Thursday, July 9, 2009

Poll Position - Good Music Never Goes Outta Style.

So, I ran a poll the other day asking ya'll which modern decade you though produced the best quality R&B music. For obvious reasons, I didn't include the Motown era of the 60's, since I was pretty sure it would skew the numbers. I almost toyed with the idea of not including the 70's either, but relented. And wouldn't you know it, The Decade When AB Was Born ran away with this one.

It was pretty close early on, but the 70's eventually made a late run to turn it into a blowout. The 90's surprisingly edged out the 80's as second best decade evar. The 2000's, uhh, not so much.

This whole exercise lead me to question just why the 90's did so comparatively well. Yeah, I guess there were some good acts (TLC, Boyz II Men, En Vogue) making good music then, but this decade also marked the beginning of the end of "pure R&B", as it's merger with hip hop music forever changed the genre's sound. By comparing, the 80's, with it's proliferation of sangers (Evelyn Champagne King), bands (SOS, Cameo), and overly synthesized tunes ("Ring My Bell") is probably the most musically varied. Seriously, the "sound" of the 80's changed so many times, from funk, to EuroSoul, quiet storm, to vocoders, to New Jack Swing. Naturally, this was my choice.

Anyways, since I can't think of any better way to wrap this up, I present to you, a slept-on song from each decade that I could put on "repeat" and literally listen to all day. Add your favorite "press repeat" tunes you-know-where.

Roy Ayers - "Searching" (1978) - My Roy Ayers stannery is well documented. Asking me to pick a favorite song is like asking me to pick a favorite flavor of Vitamin Water. They're all good. "Searching" is one of those songs you can sing along with and never be too offkey, given the constant (albeit rhythic) wailing. [Also Considered: "What You Won't Do for Love" by Bobby Caldwell, "Work to Do" by The Isley Brothers, "Innervisions" by Stevie Wonder]

Loose Ends - "Hangin' On A String" (1985) - Comical as the notion sounds nowadays, British acts like Loose Ends and Soul II Soul had the R&B charts on lock for a solid 2-3 years with their futuristic (read: recklessly overproduced) brand of tunes. "Hangin' On A String" is a song that literally sounds like a Sunday afternoon in July. This song really doesn't age. 25 years later, the guitars licks still sound fresh. [Also Considered: "Groove Me" by Guy, "I Want Her" by Keith Sweat, "Stronger than Pride" by Sade]

Zhane - "Crush" (1997) - Man, I just really, really, really like this song. You can easily substitute the words "her" for "him", and you've got the perfect "what if?" song. It's kinda sad that these ladies didn't have more staying power. [Also Considered: "Keep Tryin'" by Groove Theory, "Come & Talk to Me (Album Version)" by Jodeci, "It Never Rains (In Southern California)" by Tony! Toni! Toné!]

Glenn Lewis - "And Don't Your Forget It" (2001) - This is the sorta song that makes me wish I could sing. Honestly, I still have no idea what this song is actually about, but damn if that Dre & Vidal production wasn't smooth. These guys were the architects of the Philly sound that defined Jill Scott's breakthrough first album. I have no idea which Sizzler they, or Mr. Lewis are currently employed at. [Also Considered: "Long Walk" by Jill Scott, "Daywatcher" by Foreign Exchange, "Beautiful" by Tweet]

Question: What are your favorite "press repeat" R&B songs? Which decade had the best music, and why?

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