R&B Fridays: Episode 101

Not to be confused with George Orwell’s somewhat more macabre view of the number 101, we roll on past the magical 100 with this week’s episode. Be sure to catch up with my top 30 from episodes 1-100 if you haven’t already.

Short recap from the last week: Raheem DeVaughn follows up his enjoyable Jackin’ 4 Beats mixtape with a sequel, Beyonce returned with her latest high-octane video, and a (highly-praised) remix of Mike Posner’s Falling.

The-Dream-Villain (Jennifer Lopez Demo)
-Interesting one to kick off with. The J Lo version was actually posted over a year ago, this is quite simply the same track but with Dream’s infectious vocals in Lopez’s place. Probably the first time I’ve said this, but I think Dream’s version might just be a tad behind Jennifer’s in terms of quality, as this sort of track just feels far more suited to her style. Still, a good track and one to grab to make your own comparison.

Stephen Marley-Made In Africa ft. Wale And The Cast Of Fela
-Lovely chillout vibes here, with a laidback style that makes for addictive and easy listening. Backed by soft guitars, tribal-style percussion and not a whole lot else, the simplicity works superbly here to play off the emotion in Stephen’s voice. Props on the Wale feature too: he really needed one like this to remind his fans he can still do the lyrical, meaningful stuff amidst his recent Lex Luger love-in.

Ke$ha-Blow Remix ft. B.o.B
-No-one reading this episode really needs me to describe this to they? Big, loud pop track with a token B.o.B feature to open it up. If you like her stuff, you already like this. If you don’t, this won’t change anything.

Erin Christine-Crazy
-Latest single from her upcoming debut album, and its more decent stuff from Erin. A lot more ‘classic-style’ pop than her previous alternative-inspired efforts, with a heavy influence from the style of singer-songwriter pop that was prevalent a few years back (Vanessa Carlton etc.). Probably one of her weaker ones for me, but that’s up against some seriously fantastic competition, and that’s just me: it’ll really go down smoothly with the younger mainstream heads.

Lloyd-Private Dancer

-Another one that has a throwback feel, this one has a dark, almost gothic sort of vibe in its production that feels distinctly mid-90s. I’m a big fan of that style (it made for some of the most atmospheric beats ever), and Lloyd graces it with some solid vocals. Not sure the lyrical content matches, but it’s difficult for an R&B artist to take this sort of beat on without conflicting somewhat with its style. Still a very enjoyable track though.

Iyaz-Pretty Girls ft. Travie McCoy
-What is it with the retro-style tracks today? 80s pop influence all over this production, from the synths to the uplifting guitar(?) riff, and it works very well for its purpose as an easygoing pop track. Iyaz comes through at his catchy best, with a memorable hook that’ll probably be sung all over this summer, and some passable vocal work. Decent if unspectacular feature from Travie, who fits in nicely but could have done better with his verse. Good song though, just a shame it’ll be overplayed soon.

The-Dream-Hello, Hi, Goodbye
-Just superb really. One of those classic atmospheric Dream slow jams, with a relatively minimal production that really brings the best out of his already-engaging vocals. Catchy, memorable and meaningful hook on this one ticks all the right boxes, whilst the verses are extremely well-written as you’d expect. Really simple and very enjoyable.

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