R&B Fridays: Episode 49 (Also, My 1000th Post!)

49 episodes in, and the fantastic material still keeps coming. The common theme of recent weeks has been a frightening consistency in the quality, as we’ve seen some superb R&B tracks being let loose in anticipation of the summer. Whereas previous R&B Fridays have been a bit of a struggle to fill/review, the past few weeks have certainly made my (busy) life a lot easier!

This week is no different, and you’ve got some very good stuff to look forward to in your immediate future from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Amerie and many more. Not as many lesser-known names as there usually are, instead we’ve got the more established names looking to make their mark. Click on to let them know if they got it right.

Edit: This is my 1000th post on this site, on the eve of my final University exam. Celebrations aplenty!

Lyfe Jennings-Statistics
-An unbelievably good start to this week’s episode. Really, really smart lyrical effort which definitely sticks to the title of the track. Great hook and a good beat on this one, coupled with Lyfe’s great voice make this lyrically-intelligent track the best I’ve heard from him to date.

Jay Sean-Why Cry
-As the title suggests, this is a slower effort. A decent one too, and like the above track comes through with some enjoyable lyricism. A criticism I’ve often held of Jay’s music is that it has a habit of sounding ‘distant’, but that’s definitely not the case here-you really get the feeling that this one probably means something to him, which makes a nice change.

Amerie-Who’s Gonna Love U
-I’m preparing a feature article on this lady. Great to look at, unbelievably talented, yet unbelievably underrated. I’ve honestly not heard her release a bad song, and she’s a prime example of how hard it is without major label promotion. Anyway, more of that in the article. This track is another great one: an easy-listening midtempo jam with a typically hip-hop edge to the percussion, good production and great vocals/lyrics as ever.

Range-Night I Fell In Love
-I read a while ago that this kid signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, but admittedly wasn’t impressed by the stuff I’d heard since. However, it’s a matter of time before he blows up and this is a decent-enough track to warrant bringing him to your attention. Uptempo effort which would be good in a club, it’s a promising sign and I hope he builds on this.

R. Kelly-Sign Of Victory
-Right, so after announcing Akon/Keri’s Oh Africa, then this and most recently this as the official 2010 World Cup song, it’s now being said that this particular track has that honour. Either would work in fairness (although I haven’t listened to the Shakira one) and could do a good job, including this one which comes through on a slower tip than the others, whilst remaining motivational.

Bruno Mars-Dancing In The Mirror
-Yes, the same DITM that Lloyd did an amazing job on a little while ago. I’m torn now, as Bruno and Lloyd are easily 2 of my favourite singers in the game today, so I don’t know which version I prefer. Says a lot about this version though, given how awesome the Lloyd version was. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will end up Bruno’s song, as I’m sure I can hear Lloyd’s backing vocals in this.

Flo Rida-Fresh I Stay pt. 2 ft. Lil’ Wayne
-There’s one reason I’m posting this: because some of you mainstreamers love this stuff. I do not.

Craig David-Like I Never Left
-Dude has been on a roll with everything he’s dropped recently, but is getting overlooked in favour of idiots such as the one above. Such a shame, as his music has matured massively from the days when he went a bit crap. He’s definitely making music for the real R&B heads these days, and that works just fine for me.

The-Dream-One In A Million
-Not sure if this is a dedication or done out of boredom, but here goes a cover of the Aaliyah classic. Pretty good version too, and definitely does justice to the original. Doesn’t change too much either, and stays true to what made the original very likeable.

Kelly Rowland-On & On
-She’s definitely targeting Europe with her new stuff. This is another dance-inspired effort, and another good one in fairness. She’s managed to make this new dance-R&B culture sound a little different, and we all know I reward originality. Good progression to this one, builds up to a good last third.

Usher-She Seen Me
-All-year round, we get Usher tracks. Either this guy works extra hard and wants us all to hear it, or someone from his camp is letting everything loose. Lucky us either way, as Ush always comes through with some good stuff. Slower and more lyrical, Usher is one of few singers who manages to pull off R&B storytelling successfully, as demonstrated here.

Sean Garrett-She Geeked ft. Tyga and Gucci Mane
-Right, so this is yet another ‘hype single’ from Garrett. Yet again, this guy hasn’t figured out that doing what he’s good at would make a lot more sense than trying to be hip-hop. Mainstream fans (especially pop-hiphop fans) will really like this. It’s better than Garrett’s other stuff like this, but probably ‘cos of the Tyga feature.

Justin Timberlake-Touch You If I Could
-Almost certainly a reference track. JT fans will definitely enjoy this one, and the hook almost sounds like his N*Sync days! The beat is pretty simple, and works to push his voice to the forefront effectively. Will be interesting to see who takes this on.

Jamie Foxx-Could Be A Million Things
-I always try to throw something in here for the soul heads, and this is for you. Jamie Foxx stops being pop, and pulls out some of the smooth stuff that he can do ever so well. Empty verse on this one, looking forward to seeing who fills the gap.

Ester Dean-Love Suicide ft. Chris Brown
-These two seem to quite enjoy working together, and I’m enjoying it too. Polar opposite to their last collab, this is a slower effort that really showcases Ester Dean’s voice. Full of praise for this one, and fans of Chris Brown’s slower stuff will find this song incredibly easy to get into. Superb work.

Justin Bieber-Somebody To Love Remix ft. Usher
-THE BIEB, AHHH! OMG! YAY! I don’t like him. I like Usher though, and seeing as Ush signed him it probably makes sense he gives him a few features. Has to be said that this is much more bearable than anything Bieber has ever released too, and might actually be of interest to people over the age of 12. For once.

R. Kelly-When A Woman Loves
-This sounds like a cross between a Marvin Gaye song and old-school R. Kelly. Hence, if you downloaded the above track, you probably won’t be able to appreciate this one. If you do like the old-school style, with raw vocals and simple backings, this one is most certainly for you (and I).

-Slightly more futuristic on the production than the above track/earlier Ush track, this still has that nice storytelling element but on a different angle. Really like the hook on this one, as Usher stretches his voice to hit some nice notes. Surprised this didn’t make the album (if it wasn’t recorded after, of course).

Auburn-La La La
-Club. Banger. Produced by one of the most successful at bringing through upcomers (Iyaz, Derulo, Kingston etc.), J.R. Rotem drops off another absolutely superb production which will almost definitely give this upcomer her big break. I could definitely deal with hearing this in clubs over the summer, and is a great choice for her first single.

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