Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

58th Annual Grammy Nomination Predictions – The Pop Categories!


Taylor Swift, 1989 © Big Machine Records

The Grammy nominations will be unveiled before we know it. Before they are, here’s a look at who might snag nominations in the pop categories. Yes, that means Taylor Swift is a factor. Here we go!

Best Pop Solo Performance 

Ed Sheeran, X © Atlantic

Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Taylor Swift, “Blank Space” (1989)

The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face” (Beauty Behind the Madness)

Meghan Trainor, “Lips Are Movin” (Title)

Rachel Platten, “Fight Song”

Kelly Clarkson, “Heartbeat Song” (Piece By Piece) 

There are plenty of alluring, deserving pop solo performances this year – it’s just a matter of preference. Saying that this is Taylor Swift’s category to lose would be a massive understatement, no matter how great or popular “Blank Space” was. If the category looks anything like the aforementioned, it could be a crapshoot.

If you buy into the hype of Ed Sheeran being nominated for “Thinking Out Loud” on technicality (outside of his true eligibility period), that instantly intensifies the competition for one of the finest tracks on his X album. Even without him, what if The Weeknd gets a pop nomination for “Can’t Feel My Face” – definitely a better fit in the pop category than urban categories – that also stiffens things.

Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin” is no slouch, though “All About That Bass” was the breakthrough for her, while “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten is so uplifting. Don’t forget about Kelly Clarkson, who can pull off an upset easily it seems. There are others who would be a home here too, but it would be surprising not to see Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran (in some shape or fashion) nominated here. 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (Uptown Special)

Maroon 5, “Sugar” (V)

Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Blank Space” (1989)

Meghan Trainor featuring John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (Title)

Kelly Clarkson featuring John Legend, “Run Run Run” (Piece By Piece)

Twenty One Pilots, “Tear In My Heart” (Blurryface)

Pop Duo/Group also has plenty of worthy contenders. “Uptown Funk!” is likely the favorite, no way that you shake it. Sure, this would be a likely category to nominate Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar’s remix of “Bad Blood,” but there’s also the possibility that should it be nominated, it is placed in the Best Rap/Sung category. Taylor swift nominated in a rap category potentially – whoa!

Even if “Uptown Funk!” is the favorite, watch out for Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” which was nothing short of sugary sweet. If for some reason there’s an eligibility issue, could the explicit “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt” get a nod here? Also if Meghan Trainor has an abundance of nominations, she could see her duet with Grammy darling John Legend pop up here, perhaps more so than that schmaltzy retro-pop collaboration with Charlie Puth – just saying! Kelly Clarkson could also get John Legend another nod with “Run Run Run,” one of the years great, if underrated duets. What about all this non-love for Twenty One Pilots? Personally, it would be great to see “Tear In My Heart” get some love here.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Josh Groban, Stages © Reprise

Josh Groban, Stages

Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern

Diana Krall, Wallflower

This hasn’t been the greatest year for traditional pop in its most traditional sense. Josh Groban definitely fits the mode with Stages. Tony Bennett’s collaboration with pianist Bill Charlap is a possibility as well IF this is the category that the particular album is nominated in as opposed to a jazz category.   There’s also the return of Diana Krall with Wallflower, which covers classics including “California Dreamin’” and “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.” We all know if Tony Bennett is nominated here though, WATCH OUT! 

P.S., could Nina Simone tribute album Nina Revisited get the nod here if voters “stretch” – would that be far-fetched?

Best Pop Vocal Album

Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful © Island

Taylor Swift, 1989

Florence + The Machine, How Big How Blue How Beautiful

Meghan Trainor, Title

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece

Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface

Adam Lambert, The Original High

Tori Kelly, Unbreakable Smile 

George Ezra, Wanted On Voyage

James Bay, Chaos and the Calm

If there is one category that is Taylor Swift’s to lose, it would seem to be Best Pop Vocal Album. While Taylor Swift is one of the surest nominees in the album of the year category, there are technically better albums positioned beside her (Kendrick Lamar should be a lock there as well). That said, if 1989 isn’t given “the big one” at the Grammys, it could earn Swift her first award for an album since Fearless won both album of the year and best country album.

Who is Swift’s biggest competition – Florence + The Machine and Kelly Clarkson. Adam Lambert is deserving of a nod for The Original High, as are Twenty One Pilots for Blurryface, but both could be easily overlooked. The Weeknd might even muster up an nod here for Beauty Behind The Madness given the pop success and pop crossover appeal. Still, hard to see Taylor Swift miss on this one.

Tyler the Creator, Cherry Bomb © Odd Future

TMI! 14 Songs That Reference ‘Riding Solo’


Tyler the Creator, Cherry Bomb © Odd Future

Before you read any further, this article has a dash of taboo controversy – fair warning! And to dispel any rumors or myths, this is not about the infectious Jason Derulo song where he’s “trying to get his sh*t together.” Just a friendly disclaimer!

You could say that today, society is at a much more liberal place than it has been in the past. Sure, it could be argued that there is “nothing new under the sun” – and we know how crazy the 1960s were with “free love” – but whether you’re a baby boomer or millennial, generally, most will agree that we are in the most socially liberal era yet.

But this particular article isn’t exactly about social liberation – or at least not explicitly – but there is a connection. This is about taboos – things that are just plum awkward to mention in normal conversations. There are many things that have been taboo over the years, one of which is the dreaded “m” word and its slang derivatives – masturbation.

Somehow, the taboo topic that no one wants to talk about or doesn’t address in your everyday conversation found its way in music. Sometimes it was explicitly, such as Prince’s “scandalous” “Darlin Little Nikki” from Purple Rain (1984), while other times, there’s the implication without uttering the taboo word or a derivative, such as Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My)” (2002) or more pronounced Divinyls, “I Touch Myself” (1990).  

Arguably, with the more socially liberal climate, not to mention more openness about sex itself, it no surprise that it has become more common to slip in the word, make reference to it, or bluntly detail it. Still, even being a liberal millennial, personally it’s still shocking to hear artists reference masturbation and Prince’s scandalous reference happened 30 years ago! Here some examples where artists reference “riding solo” and commentary of why they referenced it and/or how they used it.

1) Sufjan Stevens, “All Of Me Wants All Of You” (Carrie & Lowell, 2015)

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

“You checked your texts while I masturbated”

 

This is one of the more subtle references on this list. While it outwardly suggests a relationship where one person is uninterested and the other must fulfill his desires himself, in the context of Carrie & Lowell, Stevens uses the reference to depict his relationship with his mother, which was strained.

2) Tyler, The Creator, “Blow My Load” (Cherry Bomb, 2015)

Tyler the Creator, Cherry Bomb © Odd Future

“Face Time your cl**, I will jack off my d**k / I got hard sh*t”

 

There is no explanation needed. Tyler, the Creator isn’t one to be subtle in the least, and he just expresses what he is going to do or doing, and how he feels. Basically, while his actions are emotional to himself, “Blow My Load” as a whole comes off as empty, lustful sex and nothing more. What’s sort of crazy is that “Blow My Load” is actually quite beautiful, but it’s “in your face” theme sort of takes away.

3) Miguel, “The Valley” (Wildheart, 2015)

Miguel, Wildheart © RCA

“Confess your sins to me while you masturbate”

“I wanna push and shove and paint your hills and valley”

 

Miguel is just being naughty. “The Valley” is among the boldest, sex-driven songs on Wildheart, so it’s not surprising he is blunt about what he wants his lady to do (“Confess your sins to me while you masturbate”) and what he plans to do sexually (“I wanna push and shove and paint your hills and valley”). So in essence, this is literal and definitely raises your eyebrows once you hear Miguel go there.

4) P!nk, “U + Ur Hand” (I’m Not Dead, 2006)

P!nk, I'm Not Dead © LaFace

“I’m not here for your entertainment…it’s just you and your hand tonight”

 

This one’s easy. She’s not going to give it to the guy, so the dude has to do the dirty work himself. No need to elaborate any further…

5) The Lonely Island, “Jizz In My Pants” (Incredibad, 2010)

The Lonely Island, Incredibad © Republic

“Jizzed in my paints / it’s perfectly normal, nothing wrong with me / but we’re going to need a clean up on Aisle 3”

 

It’s never a surprise when comedians tackle risqué topics. That’s exactly what The Lonely Island do, making a funny song about, um, the plumbing. No, this doesn’t reference the “m” word, but it’s related…

6) St. Vincent, “Birth In Reverse” (St. Vincent, 2014)

St. Vincent, St. Vincent © Loma Vista

 

“Oh, what an ordinary day / take out the garbage, masturbate / I’m still holding for the laugh”

 

This is another reference to masturbation, but not specifically the act. St. Vincent seems to talking about the repetitive routine of things – she’s bored.

7) Ludacris, “Hip Hop Quotables” (Chicken N Beer, 2003)

Ludacris, Chicken-n-Beer © Def Jam

“But my album’s out the store, yours be on the shelf / I heard you masturbate a lot, so y’all keep to yourself / cause these women want a man that stay up and stay strong.”

 

They don’t call him Ludacris for nothing! Here, the point of the excerpted passage is that he’s the best rapper (and all the perks that go along with it), while everybody else sucks. Choosing the “sex” > “masturbation” argument just amplifies his point and provides further evidence why he’s named Ludacris.

8) Die Antwoord, “Beat Boy” ($O$, 2009)

Die Antwoord, $O$

“I think about you when I masturbate / you can’t even believe it but that’s okay / On the microphone I fascinate / when I let my third eye exaggerate”

 

Oh brother! Die Antwoord aren’t for the feint of heart, or anyone who don’t do provocative and explicit very well. The key part of the excerpt is really “On the microphone I fascinate,” which suggests he’s a boss when it comes to rapping. The rest is more for effect, but he connects it together albeit it way too much information (“I think about you when I masturbate…when I let my third eye [his member] exaggerate [grow…]” Phew!

9) Rick Ross, “Mafia Music” (Deeper Than Rap, 2009)

Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap © Def Jam

“The rumors turn me on, I’m masturbating at the top / These hoes so excited, so they catchin’ every drop”

 

SMH! Rick Ross loves gossip because it just adds fuel to the fire – aka his rhyming skills – and everybody loves what he has to offer. As to why he had to go and make things so nasty, who knows.

10) Tyler, The Creator, “Tron Cat” (Goblin, 2011)

Tyler, the Creator, Goblin © XL

“Got a n***a shaking like the calmest f**king Haitian / after chronic masturbation, asking where Mary Kate went / I want to be the reason why all lesbians hate dick…”

 

Three words: Tyler, the Creator. He’s just plain offensive, but the last part of the quote finds him admitting it: “I want to be the reason why all lesbians hate dick.” ‘Course, that’s sort of redundant and ridiculous – figure that one out for yourselves.

11) Watsky featuring Mariami, “Waking Hour” (Watsky, 2009)

Watsky

“When I had a panic attack / I can never fake it, I make another mistake / and I’m aching and so I pray to the have the pastor take / an erection collection and pass the plate / but no one donated, so I had to masturbate / I know the girls want it / I’m close, and if it grows I can put a condom on it / Her moan is onomatopoetic / I groan, because my bone is gone as soon as I get it”

 

Can you guess what body part Watsky is talking about and thinking with? Here’s a hint – remember that “third eye” that Die Antwoord referenced earlier? While he is at least poetic, Watsky isn’t exactly being subtle either.

12) JC Chasez, “Come To Me” (Schizophrenic, 2004)

JC Chasez, Schizophrenic © Jive

“Cause when I’m all alone / I lay awake and masturbate / I love to hear the sounds you make…”

 

JC Chasez goes for it, but does he really need to? Couldn’t he have been more poetic as opposed to killing the vibe with his bluntness? ‘Course this is the same dude that had a song on his only solo album entitled “All Day Long I Dream About Sex.” SMH!

13) Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself” (The Pinkprint, 2014)

Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint © Motown/Universal

“He be thinking about me when he whacks off, wax on? Wax off…”

 

“Feeling Myself” and the excerpted quote is really about two queens who are confident in themselves and the “queen-dom” they have built. But, this being Nicki Minaj, she couldn’t avoid the whole double entendre thing.

14) John Legend featuring Kanye West, “Number One” (Get Lifted, 2004)

John Legend, Get Lifted © Sony

“I supposed you was told by them hoes I was cheatin’ / thinkin’ my heart don’t got nothing to do with my penis / he got a mind of his own and he just be seeing sh*t / and I don’t wanna cheat but I don’t be saying sh*t / I try to jack off he ask me who is you playin’ wit?”

 

Don’t worry John – you’re not the reason “Number One” is up here. It’s Kanye West’s fault, specifically the reference to his junk. He goes off at the end of his verse about thinking with his pants basically, but ultimately knows that “she” is “Number One.” Certainly a circuitous route to get to that ends Mr. West!

More TABOO-ness for your reading pleasure… 

40 Masturbation Songs – BuzzFeed

The 15 Best Songs That Are Totally About Masturbation …

10 Songs You Won’t BELIEVE Are About Masturbation …

30 All-Time Greatest Songs to Masturbate To – Cosmopolitan

John Legend, Love in the Future © Columbia

8 ‘Genesis’ Songs 


John Legend, Love in the Future © Columbia

No not the band silly – but rather “in the beginning!” Honestly, some of these songs have little to do with beginning, but whatever. “It is what it is” as the old saying goes.

1) Eminem, “We Made You” (Relapse, 2009)

“We Made You” really has nothing to do with “the beginning” – just Eminem going H.A.M. as always.

Genesis lyric:

“You’re a rock star / everybody wants you, player / who can really blame you? / We’re the ones who made you

Funniest lyric:

“Damn girl, I’m beginning to sprout an Alfalfa / Why should I wash my filthy mouth out?”

2) Taylor Swift, “Begin Again” (Red, 2012)

“Begin Again” is a love song – what else would you expect from Taylor Swift?

Genesis lyric:

“I’ve been spending the last eight months / thinking all love ever does / is break and burn and end / but on a Wednesday in a café / I watched it begin again

3) U2, “Original Of The Species” (How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004)

Simply beautiful, “Original Of The Species” is a fitting tribute with truly poetic lyrics.

Genesis lyrics:

“I’ll give you everything you want / except the thing that you want / you are the first one of your kind

“Baby slow down / the end is not as fun as the start / please stay a child somewhere in your heart”

4) John Legend, “The Beginning” (Love In The Future, 2013)

“The Beginning” seems to be about the natural progression of a relationship/marriage to building a family.

Genesis lyric:

It’s the beginning of forever / you don’t have to end / keep doing it, and doing it again”

5) The Decemberists, “A Beginning Song” (What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, 2015)

Yeah, I’m not going to try to interpret “Condescend to calm this riot in your mind” or “The tenor of your shins / the timbre of your limbs.” 

Genesis lyric:

Let’s commence to coordinate our sights / Get them square to rights, get them square to rights” 

6) Arcade Fire, “Ready To Start” (The Suburbs, 2010)

Don’t be a conformist: “I would rather be wrong / than live in the shadows of your song / my mind is open wide.”

Genesis lyric:

“If I was scared, I would / and if I was pure, you know I would / and if I was yours, but I’m not / Now I’m ready to start

“Businessmen drink my blood / like the kids in art school said they would / and I guess I’ll just begin again / you say ‘can we still be friends?’”

7) Pendulum, “Genesis” (Immersion, 2010)

It’s instrumental and is titled “Genesis,” so therefore it fits.

8) Justice, “Genesis” (Crosses, 2012)

AGAIN, it’s instrumental and is titled “Genesis,” so therefore it fits.

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

10 Songs That Possess Overwhelming Emotions


Panic! At The Disco, Hallelujah © Fueled By Ramen

Some songs are “empty,” while others are “full” – or something like that! The 10 songs compiled on this list are all “full” of emotion and depth. Each song has a deeper meaning or larger purpose which makes it truly unique, special, and memorable. Here are 10 songs that possess overwhelming emotions.

1) Father John Misty, “Holy S**t” (I Love You, Honeybear, 2015)

Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear © Subpop

Despite the fact that it’s titled “Holy S**t,” the phrase is never once mentioned within the lyrics. Rather, the title is a description of an overall collection of overwhelming emotions and situations, many of which are far beyond Father John Misty’s control. Because the lyrical content is ‘over the top,’ it makes perfect sense why it’s named “Holy S**t.” It isn’t only the reaction of Father John Misty, but also the listeners taking it all in.

2) Panic! At The Disco, “Hallelujah” (2015)

Panic! At The Disco, Hallelujah © Fueled By Ramen

Is “Hallelujah” truly a spiritual declaration? No. Sure, front man Brendon Urie seeks to inspire fellow sinners to mature and move forward much like his own experiences he cites, but this is no gospel song by any means. This is a song about putting past mistakes behind you and growing stronger in the present and future.

 

3) Wale featuring Usher, “The Matrimony” (2015)

Wale, The Album About Nothing © Atlantic

 

A title like “The Matrimony” should make every bachelor shudder… it’s a lifelong commitment. On “The Matrimony,” Wale commits to being the best man that he can be, and is definitely thinking “forever” and not just a casual thing. No more hook-ups for Wale – it’s deep!

 

 

4) Sufjan Stevens, “No Shade In The Shadow of the Cross” (Carrie & Lowell, 2015)

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

 

Who knew Sufjan Stevens had such a dark side? Most folks probably didn’t until Carrie & Lowell found Stevens confessing his shortcomings and emotional instability following the death of his mother, Carrie. Not only was her death a hard pill to swallow, Stevens’ relationship with his mother was minimal throughout his lifetime, something he has shared throughout the album and in interviews. But who would’ve ever thought Stevens would deliver lines like “I slept on my back in the shade of the meadow / like a champion / get drunk to get laid” or “There’s blood on the blade / f**k me, I’m falling apart.”

 

 

5) Hozier, “Work Song” (Hozier, 2014)

Hozier © Columbia

 

“Work Song” could pair well with Wale’s “The Matrimony,” thanks to the commitment that Hozier seems to have to his “baby,” who he references throughout the song. “Boys workin’ on empty / I sthat the kinda way to face the burning heat? / I just think about my baby / I’m so full of love I could barely eat.” Infatuated much Hozier? If his dedication weren’t confirmed already, check out the chorus: “When, my, time comes around / lay me gently in the cold dark earth / no grave can hold my body down / I’ll crawl home to her.”

 

 

 

6) Yelawolf, “Heartbreak” (Love Story, 2014)

Yelawolf, Love Story © Interscope

 

By far, “Heartbreak” may be Yelawolf’s most touching, deep song of his career. He doesn’t hold back, exemplified by standout moments like “I could’ve been stuck out in ‘Bama, had I not flew the coop / And my babies would suffer Christmas cause Santa ain’t got no loot” and “Momma told me I should keep it real / my record ain’t selling, momma, I’m trying hard enough to keep a deal.” The best lyric comes on a variation of the hook: “There ain’t no f**king way I’mma let you take this hard-earned money, b**ch.” Now that’s overwhelming emotion!

 

 

7) Alabama Shakes, “Gimme All Your Love” (Sound & Color, 2015)

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color © ATO Records

 

This one is obvious and needs little explanation. Love itself is overwhelming, and so there’s no question that Alabama Shakes’ “Gimme All Your Love” deserves a spot on this list. “So tell me what you wanna do,” Brittany Howard sings on the second verse, “You say the weather doesn’t sit with you / why don’t you talk to me for just a little while? / I can only try to make it right.”

 

 

8) Sam Smith, “Lay Me Down” (In The Lonely Hour, 2014)

Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

 

“Told me not to cry when you were gone / but the feeling’s overwhelming, it’s too strong.” Considering that Sam Smith’s debut album In The Lonely Hour is all about unrequited love, it’s no surprise that “Lay Me Down” finds Smith almost in desperation mode to be back with his lost love. Love in itself is overwhelming, so it’s no surprise “Lay Me Down” falls into the same characterization. Smith is also making a bigger statement with this particular song, in reference to marriage equality.

 

 

9) Big Sean featuring John Legend & Kanye West, “Only One Man Can Change The World” (Dark Sky Paradise, 2015)

Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise © Def Jam

 

Big Sean isn’t exactly the most poetic MC in the game, but on “Only One Man Can Change The World” he gave his very best, particularly referencing his grandma: “My grandma told me if you write your name in stone you’ll never get the white out / I grinded out that black hole then performed up at the white house.” Sean earlier within the album spoke upon his “Blessings,” two of which are implied within the aforementioned lyric – his grandmother’s advice/wisdom and reaching his dreams.

 

 

10) Ed Sheeran, “Afire Love” (X, 2014)

Ed Sheeran, X © Atlantic

 

One of the underrated songs from Ed Sheeran’s X arrives in “Afire Love,” where Sheeran talks about the loss of his grandfather. Despite his sadness (“And my father told me ‘son / it’s not your fault he doesn’t know your face / and you’re not the only one’”), by the end the tone of the song is more uplifting: “And my father and all of my family / rise from their seats to sing hallelujah.”

 

 

Wiz Khalifa, Blacc Hollywood © Atlantic

7 High Songs To Celebrate 420 Any and Everyday


Wiz Khalifa, Blacc Hollywood © AtlanticYes, this post may have arrived a day late, but some folks celebrate 4/20 – better known as the day to celebrate marijuana – every day. So, with that kept in mine, here are some songs that are guaranteed to “get you lifted” – some not necessarily from the ganja.

1) John Legend, “Let’s Get Lifted” (Get Lifted, 2004)

Sorry weed lovers everywhere! The “high” one gets off of this soulful jam is from love, not cannabis. One of Legend’s best, would you agree? Hey, had to keep this post somewhat classy – just saying!

2) Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Mike Posner, “French Inhale” (Mac & Dev Go To High School, 2011)

If John Legend didn’t do it for you, well Snoop & Wiz will. One of the ‘highest’ songs off of the Mac & Dev Go To High School Soundtrack is “French Inhale,” which embraces joints like it’s nothing. Throw in Posner’s unique vocals on the hook, and you’ll be high as a kite in no time.

3) The Weeknd, “High For This” (Trilogy, 2012)

The Weeknd steps up the drugs on “High For This” – not marijuana, but ecstasy. To make things worse on this sensual slow jam, he has the nerve to sing, “We don’t need no protection.” Hmm, maybe The Weeknd needs to take some advice from Rae Sremmurd – “Safe Sex Pay Checks.”

4) Kid Cudi, “Marijuana” (Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, 2010)

Well, a song entitled “Marijuana” has to be the anthem of 4/20 right? “Pretty green bud all in my blood, oh I need it,” Cudi sings on the hook, “We can take off now, oh marijuana, yeah.” Fittingly, the song ends with the phrase, “…and 4:20,” aka time to smoke.

5) Kid Cudi, “Ashin’ Kusher” (Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, 2010)

Of course Kid Cudi can’t just have one song on this 4/20 list, particularly when the second song is named “Ashin’ Kusher” for heaven’s sake! “Even if I do somethin’ unruly / I be like, ‘F**k it n***a I was probably zooted!” If that proclamation wasn’t enough, check out the irresistible hook: “Y’all know I keep it funky motherf***er better get it right…and I’ll be rocking along, zonin’, yeah…” Yep, he High AF…

6) Arctic Monkeys, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” (AM, 2013)

Of course you can tell when someone’s “lifted.” The problem for front man Alex Turner is, the girl he’s trying to win knows this because, “it’s three in the morning and I’m trying to change your mind / left you multiple missed calls and to my message, you reply / Why’d you only call me when you’re high, high?” Well Alex, dude, what’s the answer?

7) Chris Brown & Tyga featuring Schoolboy Q, “B**ches N Marijuana” (Fan of A Fan: The Album, 2015)

Doesn’t this one speak for itself? All these three guys need is “b**ches n marijuana.” The simple, shallow life one might say.

There are many more songs with a “mighty high” in mind, but here’s a taste of, um, Mary Jane.

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

2015’s Most Eyebrow-Raising Lyrics, Vol. 1


Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

So much time is spent examining entire albums or merely analyzing singles or songs off of those albums. A lot can be gained from being more analytical and isolating key lyrics from a song. Sure, this is micromanagement – total music nerd shit – but there’s greatness that can be unveiled. Throughout 2015, there have been many eyebrow-raising lyrics that raise larger issues or have greater meaning when they are isolated from their parent song. Here are 12 eyebrow-raising lyrics that stand out in 2015 so far.

1) Jazmine Sullivan, “Mascara” (Reality Show, 2015)

Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show © RCA

“Yeah my hair and my ass fake, but so what? / I get my rent paid with it and my tits get me trips / to places I can’t pronounce right / he said he’d keep it coming if I keep my body tight / and them bitches stay mad cause I’m living the life” 

“Mascara” is a bigger message about what some females will do to cover up imperfections and to atone for self-consciousness. This quote lifted from the beginning of the song truly sets the tone of record, and its one that Sullivan suggests this is how she’s become ‘successful.’ The success of which Sullivan sings of here is merely superficial, and eliminates bigger aspirations and hard-earned, legitimate success. 

2) Sufjan Stevens, “All Of Me Wants All Of You” (Carrie & Lowell, 2015)

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell © Asthmatic Kitty

“You checked your texts while I masturbated…”

Throughout the course of Carrie & Lowell, Stevens’ relationship with his mother (Carrie) and his reaction to her death in 2012 are the centerpiece. The most shocking part of the quote is the fact that Steven uttered something as taboo as masturbation. Ultimately, this quote is as sexual as it appears out of context, as it is yet another reference to the fragmented relationship between Sufjan and Carrie. It’s likened to a dysfunctional relationship where two people aren’t as unified as they should be.

If you want to get real interpretive – possibly beyond what Stevens had in mind when penning this song – the same could be said in death, given the fact that a living person can’t form a personal relationship with a deceased person, so he has to ‘stimulate’ what memories he does have.

3) Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker The Berry” (To Pimp A Butterfly, 2015)

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath : Interscope

“I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015 / when I finish this if you listenin’ then sure you will agree…so why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street? / When gang banging make me kill a n***a blacker than me? / Hypocrite!”

Kendrick Lamar is one of the best rappers in the game, transcending pettier rap trends of drugs, money and sex. On “The Blacker The Berry,” he speaks about the state of the black community, but also suggests that the black community is hypocrites. They are upset about the improprieties committed against them (rightfully so), but the community doesn’t look within their own internal problems either, specifically killing each other – their own. Sure, when it comes to a tragedy like Trayvon Martin or the events that went down in Ferguson, Missouri the community embraces a mantra of “We Take Care Of Our Own” to quote Bruce Springsteen, but within our own self-contained communities, that’s not always the case.

Again examine this big-picture, and the sentiment of which Kendrick Lamar speaks isn’t solely limited to murder. There are an assortment of social issues within the black community that often prevent embracing a mantra of “we take care of our own.” Maybe Kendrick was limiting “The Blacker The Berry” to violence, but it also serves as the springboard to an assortment of larger, relevant issues.

4) Father John Misty, “Bored In The USA” (I Love You, Honeybear, 2015)

Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear © Subpop

“Oh, just a little bored in the USA / save me, white Jesus”

With this isolated quote from Father John Misty’s “Bored In the USA,” you can interpret it in a lot of ways. One is that Misty is poking fun at the idea that most people – particularly those who lean more conservatively – consider Jesus to be ‘white.’ Another interpretation is that Misty is making a jab at people’s affinity toward religion and the belief that Jesus can save them from everything, particularly on a small-scale being “just a little bored in the USA.”

In a larger picture and different interpretation, being “bored in the USA” actually speaks to the numerous problems in the USA that do indeed exist despite being considered “the greatest country in the world.” Even with that read, the “white” characterization opens a can of worms.

5) Lupe Fiasco featuring Billy Blue, Buk of Psychodrama, Famlay, Glasses Malone, Trae Tha Truth & Trouble, “Chopper” (Tetsuo & Youth, 2015)

Lupe Fiasco , Tetsuo & Youth © Atlantic “Filet mignon with my food stamps / car cosigned by my mama / medical card from Obama / background check for a chopper”

Few rappers do socioeconomic issues better than Lupe Fiasco. The same could be said about “Chopper,” namely this quote, which characterizes the hook.   Let’s break this down into each part. “Filet mignon with my food stamps” suggests that folks are given a great amount of ‘wealth’ from food stamps and welfare. Because of this, people receiving such aid eat good, even if filet mignon might be an exaggeration. Still, when one goes to the grocery store and a person has EBT, they often purchase their groceries once they first receive it and have substantial items.

Moving on, “Car cosigned by my mama,” suggests Mama will be responsible/is paying for the ride. “Medical card from Obama” falls in line with the reference to food stamps, but also has a connotation of ‘enabling’ mediocrity as opposed to ‘enable’ folks to better themselves. Finally, the key line is “background check for a chopper,” which has been a huge problem not only in ‘the hood,’ but across the United States. Numerous instances have found guns falling in the wrong hands, with the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting being two prime examples. 

6) Madonna, “Holy Water” (Rebel Heart, 2015)

Madonna, Rebel Heart © Interscope

“Baby you should get down low / and drink my precious alcohol”

We’ll keep this one short – Madonna is being freaky. Specifically this track is blasphemous because “Holy Water” is by no means anything like communion wine. No, Madonna is referencing sex, and we’ll leave this eyebrow raising line at that. 

7) Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta” (To Pimp A Butterfly, 2015)

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath / Interscope

“B*tch where you when I was walkin’ / Now I run the game got the whole world talkin’, King Kunta / Everybody wanna cut the legs off him…”

Kendrick Lamar brilliantly makes reference to the Kunta Kinte, the slave that was the protagonist of Roots. He likens his stature in rap to Kunta Kinte ‘running the show’ and folks wanting to “cut the legs off him.” Kendrick Lamar has blown up so that haters – likely many of his colleagues that are less gifted – want to end his remarkable rise and run.

8) Rae Sremmurd, “Sex Sex Pay Checks” (Sremmlife, 2015)

Rae Sremmurd, Sremmlife © Interscope

“Safe sex, and paychecks / that’s what it’s all about, don’t forget about”

Basically, these young dudes want money and sex. At least they are all about “wrapping it up.” The shock value isn’t that two young men want to make bank and hook up with girls – ask most young men and they’d concur.

The shock value is that life has been oversimplified to money and sex, when there is so much more depth beyond both things. But again, these are young guys and maybe the maturity factor has yet to kick in. Judging by Sremmlife itself, that seems to be the case.

9) Björk, “History of Touches” (Vulnicura, 2015)

Björk, Vulnicura © One Little Indian

“Every single f*ck / we had together / is in a wondrous time lapse”

Cascada said it best: “Every time we touch / I get this feeling.” In the case of Björk, she thinks back on her intimacy with her ex (Matthew Barney) and it reopens both the good times and the wounds of the relationship. It’s all about reminiscing – memories.

10) All Time Low, “Something’s Gotta Give” (Future Hearts, 2015)

All Time Low, Future Hearts © Hopeless

“Maybe I’m a f*cking waste / filling up the empty space / I’ve been here way too long”

This one is easy. Besides the fact that “Something’s Gotta Give” is completely over the top, basically, the band suggests they are tired of the status quo. Sure, this song is overblown, but what is true about what Alex Gaskarth sings is the fact that things get old, and a change of pace can be like a life saver.

11) Ludacris, “Beast Mode” (Ludaversal, 2015)

Ludacris, Ludaversal © Def Jam

“Uh, if rappers want it, they can get it / flow tighter than four fat b*tches sittin’ in a Civic”

“Beast Mode” is definitely a ‘return to form’ for Ludacris. He’s never been subtle so the best track from his comeback album isn’t subtle either. But still, “flow tighter than four fat bitches sittin’ in a Civic?” Luda, Luda – you know how small a Honda Civic is man!

12) Common & John Legend, “Glory” (Selma, 2015)

John Legend & Common, Glory © Paramount

“Selma is now for every man, woman, and child / even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd…”

The march in Selma occurred back in 1965, but as John Legend reiterates throughout “Glory,” “the war is not over.” That’s the sentiment that Common evokes in the rhymes from his second verse, suggesting that in order to repair many problems within society, everyone must continue to fight and work towards attaining “glory.”

John Legend & Common, Glory © Paramount

Examining Academy Award-Winners for Original Song Over The Past Decade (2005 – 2015)


John Legend & Common, Glory © Paramount

On Sunday night, Common and John Legend joined elite company, becoming the recipient of the Academy Award for Original Song in a motion picture. While there was much said about a lack of black talent being nominated at the 87th Academy Awards – specifically David Oyelowo (as MLK, Jr. in Selma) and director Ava DuVernay (Selma as well), Common and Legend’s song “Glory” was a lock for victory – just too perfect and prudent to overlook.

Over the past decade, there have been some truly great and even some puzzling wins for Original Song. There have also been plenty of losers who should’ve been recognized. But only one song wins and sometimes it’s not the ‘favorite’ in the moviegoers’ eyes. Here’s a look at who won, beginning with the most recent aside from “Glory.”

 

1) “Let It Go” from Frozen – Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (2013, presented in 2014)

While looking back this seems like it was a shoe-in, it was actually somewhat of a tight race as Pharrell Williams’ equally ubiquitous “Happy” was nominated against arguably the biggest song of Idina Menzel storied career.

2) “Skyfall” from Skyfall – Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth (2012, presented in 2013)

Can you say lock city? Adele was the biggest thing since slice bread when “Skyfall” materialized and there was NO way she was losing the Oscar – NONE!

3) “Man Or Muppet” from The Muppets – Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie (2011, presented in 2012)

Most disappointing was the fact that only two songs were nominated, the other being from Rio (“Real in Rio”). Seems a travesty to only nominate two when five nominees are always possible. Go figure!

4) “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 – Music and Lyric by Randy Newman (2010, presented in 2011)

Randy Newman is an Oscar darling, winning back in 2001 for another Disney film, Monsters, Inc. (“If I Didn’t Have You”). He was also nominated in 2005 (Cars) and in 2009 for two of his songs from The Princess and The Frog. More on that next…

5) “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)” from Crazy Heart – Music and lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett (2009, presented in 2010)

Even with Randy Newman nominated with two songs, everyone knew that the highly respected T Bone Burnett had this award locked down without question. The film was the frontrunner for Original Song for “The Weary Kind” and more notably, Jeff Bridges was a lock for Best Actor.

6) “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire – Music by A.R. Rahman; Lyric by Gulzar (2008, presented in 2009)

When Slumdog Millionaire blew up, it literally blew up – period. A. R. Rahmann had a robust 67% to win Original Song considering two songs from the film were nominated, with the outsider being Peter Gabriel’s “Down To Earth” from WALL-E. It would be “Jai Ho” that would beat out “O Saya” for the Oscar.

7) “Falling Slowly” from Once – Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (2007, presented in 2008)

It’s always interesting when a musical – particularly a Disney musical – has numerous songs nominated for Original song and fails to capitalize on the win. That’s exactly what happened as Enchanted went home empty-handed, while the moving “Falling Slowly” took home the prize from Once.

8) “I Need To Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth – Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge (2006, presented in 2007)

Much like Enchanted would a year later, Dreamgirls delivered three sensations Original song nominees – “Listen,” “Love You I Do,” and “Patience.” Additionally, Randy Newman was nominated for Cars (“Our Town”). But did Dreamgirls or Randy Newman win? Nope, Melissa Etheridge took the prize from An Inconvenient Truth (“I Need To Wake Up”).

9) “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle & Flow – Music and Lyric by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, and Paul Beauregard (2005, presented in 2006)

This was the shocker for years and years to come. Only three songs were nominated, but didn’t every think that Dolly Parton’s song from Transamerica was lock? Sure, Eminem had been awarded for “Lose Yourself” in 2002, but could a song entitled “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” featuring the lyrics “Because a whole lot of b*tches talkin’ sh*t” really win an Oscar? It did, unbelievably. Maybe the motion picture academy is more progressive than the recording academy?

10) “Al Otra Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries – Music and Lyric by Jorge Drexler (2004, presented in 2005)

Another year that featured five nominees, those five hailed from five different films: Shrek 2, The Motorcycle Diaries, The Polar Express, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Chorus. As cool as it may have been for Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) to be awarded for “Accidentally in Love” from Shrek 2, the Oscar went to “Al Otra Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries.

Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

57th Annual Grammy Notes


Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour © Capitol

So, I spent the better part of my Sunday night watching the 57th annual Grammys – better known as wasting my time. Why do I indulge in music’s Super Bowl every year when I know that there’s always going to be Grammys given to the wrong folks? I guess it’s the hunger to see how the Recording Academy votes, even if I know the album of the year is likely going to go against the grain.   This year, the album of the year wasn’t even saved as the last award – what does that tell you?

Anyways, here are some notes I took while partaking of the Grammys. Yes, they are literally notes!

1) What better way to open up the Grammys than a rocking performance from veteran rockers AC/DC. There was nothing blasé about the Aussie rockers, whose second song was “Highway To Hell” hell heck yeah!

2) Taylor Swift comes to present the first award of the night, Best New Artist. She does reference the fact she didn’t win the Best New Artist in 2008, and quotes her hit song “Shake It Off.” Make of it what you will, but when the small talk is done, it’s no surprise that Sam Smith came out on top. I mean, who was going to stop him?

3) Anna Kendrick introduces Ariana Grande, who performs “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” from My Everything. The performance is definitely more restrained, with Grande getting off to a bit of a shaky start. Once Grande hits her power register, it’s on.

4) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones take the stage, honoring the recipients of the Trustees Award (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). J and Jones perform a duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Then came the award for best pop solo performance. The result was a shock, as Pharrell Williams took home the Grammy for “Happy,” something of an upset against heavyweights like John Legend (“All of Me”) and Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”).

5) Miranda Lambert performed “Little Red Wagon”… that was something! Then, Pentatonix and Gibb presented the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album to Sam Smith for In The Lonely Hour. Again, was there that much doubt? Well, there was some after the previous upset.

6) Kanye West takes the Grammy stage for the first time in six years performing his new song, “Only One.” Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj introduce Madonna, who performs her single “Living For Love.” As expected, she shows off that thigh – LOL! Oh and yeah, it was as theatrical as you would expect. She is Madonna after all – 56 or not! Oh and that gospel choir – on point!

7) Joshua Duhamel, Malcolm Butler, and Julian Edelman present the Grammy for Best Rock Album to Beck for Morning Phase.

8) Nile Rodgers and Smokey Robinson celebrate George Harrison by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Best R&B Performance is awarded to Beyoncé & Jay-Z for “Drunk in Love” – predictable.

9) Ed Sheeran performs “Thinking Out Loud” alongside John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. Hands down, it ranks among the night’s best performances. Herbie Hancock’s thoughtful tinkling on the piano, Mayer’s brilliant guitar (and backing vocals), and of course Sheeran’s pitch-perfect vocals. Chilling to say the least! The Electric Light Orchestra on after Ed Sheeran – can things get any better “Mr. Blue Sky?”

10) Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, who perform their ‘duet’ “My Heart Is Open” from V. Well it is technically a duet. If nothing else, both are dressed to kill, particularly Stefani in that red dress.

11) Hozier peforms his epic Song of the year nominated “Take Me To Church.” Later, Annie Lennox joins him to sing the harmony atop – she’s definitely still got it! “Take Me To Church” transforms into “I Put A Spell On You” from her Grammy-nominated effort Nostalgia.

12 ) Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor present the Grammy for Best Country Album to Miranda Lambert for Platinum.

13) The Weeknd introduces Pharrell Williams, who performs his Grammy-winning hit, “Happy.” Williams gets a little help from virtuoso pianist, Lang Lang.

14) Following a segment on the significance of domestic violence and awareness, etc., Katy Perry performs her ballad “By The Grace of God,” definitely an unexpected choice by the pop singer. While the power is felt, the pitch wasn’t always rock solid, but definitely better than expected. Not an easy song to perform in a live setting by any means.

15) Katherine McPhee introduces Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The chemistry between the two is fantastic. Makes that win for Cheek To Cheek seem like the right choice – at least for one performance.

16) Usher performs “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life. He does a magnificent job, accompanied by harp. Stevie Wonder ends up joining on the harmonica.

17) Keith Urban introduces a Grammy-less Eric Church, who performs “Give Me Back My Hometown” from The Outsiders. You’ve got to appreciate how different Eric Church is from a multitude of country artists, though that pitch at times was shaky. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam proceed. Keeping an overabundance of performances (with no awards given) going, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna perform their new single, “FourFive Seconds.”

18) Taylor Swift introduces Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, who perform “Stay With Me.” In yet another performance on an awards show where the awards seem secondary, Juanes follows in yet another performance. Sheesh!

Beck, Morning Phase © Capitol

19) Prince presents the ‘album of the year’ award to the ‘dark horse,’ Beck. Yeah, that’s about where the notes stopped – my mouth was agape.

But there was more after album of the year, like the awards for song/record of the year, which both went to Sam Smith. And Beyoncé performed “Precious Lord” (didn’t suit her in my opinion) and John Legend/Common teamed up to perform “Glory” from Selma.

 

 

John Legend & Common, Glory © Paramount

Review: Selma’s “Glory” Is Highly Deserving of the Oscar For Original Song


John Legend & Common, Glory © Paramount

Selma – Music from the Motion Picture • Paramount/Pathé • US Release Date: January 6, 2015

“One day, when the glory comes / it will be ours.” If there is one Academy Award-nominated original song that everyone should rooting for at the Oscars, it is “Glory,” a moving song performed and penned by John Legend and Common. “Glory” hails from the motion picture, Selma.

Selma managed to be nominated for Best Picture when the Academy Awards were unveiled in addition to its Best song nod, though one of the glaring snubs was for director Ava DuVernay, whom many thought was deserving of recognition. With Selma unlikely to win the ‘big one’ against heavyweights like Boyhood or Birdman, its best shot seems to be Original song. “Glory” is definitely something special folks – DEFINITELY.

The thinking is, if Three-6-Mafia can win an Oscar, can’t anyone? Maybe that’s fallacious, but who honestly thought that “Hard Out Here For a Pimp” would ever receive such a prestigious honor – and over Dolly Parton over all people? As great as “Hard Out Here For a Pimp” was, “Glory” has more substance – a more positive, healing measure. Has it already been mentioned that it’s special?

Common nails it with his prudent rhymes. On verse one, Common’s wordplay is savvy as he spits “Freedom is like religion to us / justice is juxtapositioning us / justice for all just ain’t specific enough / one son died, his spirit is revisiting us.” Later, Common hits hard, stating “Selma is now for every man, woman, and child / even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd.” The poetic nature and sincerity is tremendous.

John Legend vocally slaughters, particularly when he spoils us all with his masterful falsetto. Legend not only can pierce us with his grit, but also hypnotize us with his subtleties and nuance. In addition to the lovely refrain, it is the bridge that is where the musician’s bread is buttered: “Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won / and we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done / we’ll cry glory, oh glory…”

All said and done, “Glory” is quite deserving of the Academy Award for original song. So far, it has done well for itself. Hopefully, it can continue its winning streak and come out on top and achieve the “glory” it deserves.

★★★★

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

Favorite R&B Albums From 2004 – 2014


Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

The time has come for the unveiling of my favorite R&B album of 2014. But first, how about examining some of my favorite R&B albums over the past 10 years. In 2004, I graduated from high school and began college in the fall – I’m so old. Anyways, staying on script, here are some favorite R&B albums from 2004 to 2014.

Usher, Confessions © La Face

2004: 

2004 was a beast for urban music. R&B wasn’t nearly in the shape that it is today. But we all know that there was one album that dominated the year and that belonged to Usher’s Confessions. “Yeah!” was unstoppable, and everyone was truly “letting it Burn.” Crown Confessions one of few modern day classics that remains as fresh as it was in ’04. Usher ruled 2004, but don’t forget about magnificent efforts from Jill Scott (Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds Vol. 2) and Prince (Musicology).

Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough © Geffen

2005:

Mariah Carey had a huge year with her comeback effort The Emancipation of Mimi, but the best R&B album of the year came in December with Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough. If 2003’s Love & Life was generally considered less triumphant than her past works, The Breakthrough greatly exceeded expectations.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black © Republic

2006:

2006 had plenty of excellent R&B albums, though arguably pinpointing one is harder to do than in 2004 or 2005. Still, the one that stands tall above the rest is a retro-soul effort by way of the late, great Amy Winehouse. Back in Black is an album that is simply timeless and will forever remain a modern R&B classic. Even with so many solid contemporary R&B albums issued, it’s the throwback vibe of Back in Black that represented the best of the year.

Keyshia Cole, Just Like You © Geffen 2007:

Mary J. Blige would release another fine album called Growing Pains in 2007, though it would never outshine the unbeatable The Breakthrough. Alicia Keys would also release her first proper studio album since 2003 smash The Diary of Alicia Keys. Even with two preeminent divas and a fine sophomore album by Ne-Yo, Keyshia Cole had her moment with Just Like You, her best album to date where consistency and magnificent vocals are the M.O.

Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman © Def Jam

2008:

Dominance wouldn’t be the best word to describe R&B in 2008, but there were plenty of great albums. Beyoncé had everyone onboard with “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” from her double album I Am Sasha Fierce. Jazmine Sullivan had us “busting window out” on her superb debut, Fearless, while Jamie Foxx told us to “Blame It on the alcohol” on Intuition. Still, arguably the most polished, refined R&B album of the year went to Ne-Yo’s Year of the Gentleman. It wasn’t flashy, but definitely a sound, enjoyable album.

Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night © Columbia

 2009:

Again, a lack of dominance could describe the R&B market. Even so, albums by Rihanna (Rated R), Chrisette Michele (Epiphany), and Trey Songz (Ready) were all worthwhile. But the best R&B went to Maxwell, who seemed to keep neo-soul music alive just a little while longer on his Grammy-winning BLACKsummers’night. Those “Pretty Wings” were gorgeous!

Jazmine Sullivan, Love Me Back © J-Records

2010:

Pick any number of great R&B albums and you have 2010 characterized. Looking over a number of albums that made me smile, one of the best came by way of Jazmine Sullivan, whose sophomore album Love Me Back was incredibly under appreciated. Who expected her to be as consistent as she was on her debut? Fantasia didn’t do too badly for herself either with Back To Me. Also, depending on how you characterize him, Bruno Mars did his thing on Doo Wops & Hooligans.

Anthony Hamilton, Back to Love © RCA

2011:

Hmm, who did have the best R&B album in 2011? First, let me give a shout out to Adele for her crossover appeal with 21. While there is ample soulfulness on 21, we’ll award Best R&B album to an album best defined as R&B. Yes, plenty of people gave Chris Brown props for F.A.M.E., but there were also better albums. With no one dominant, let’s give Anthony Hamilton some much-deserved recognition for Back To Love.

Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream © RCA

2012:

This is a tie. With the alternative R&B movement growing, two artists truly stood out: Frank Ocean (Channel Orange) and Miguel (Kaleidoscope Dream). But also shout out to Melanie Fiona, who’s The MF Life was one of the best, most underrated R&B albums of the year.

Beyoncé, Beyoncé © Columbia

2013:

This one’s easy – it’s Beyoncé, hands down. Still, with many great R&B albums released, another that deserves recognition is John Legend’s Love in the Future.

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

2014:

And the winner for Best R&B album of 2014 is… a tie between Pharrell Williams’ Girl and Mary J. Blige’s The London Sessions. William’s album is slickly produced, benefiting from its grooves. The London Sessions may not be another The Breakthrough for Blige, but it shows some of her best musical attributes artistically.

Photo Credits: © Capitol, © La Face, © Geffen, © Republic, © Geffen, © Def Jam, © Columbia, © J-Records, © RCA