Selena Gomez, Revival © Interscope

11 Songs Where the Innuendo is Out of Control

uSelena Gomez told the world that she “couldn’t keep her hands to herself.” Isn’t keep your hands and your feet to yourself one of the basic rules taught in every elementary classroom? Regardless, Gomez’s lack of control perfectly captures the sentiment of the 11 songs selected on this playlist that lack control of their sexual appetites. The innuendo is front and center and inescapable, even if the particular song has more transcendent aspirations.  One Direction say it best: “No Control.”

1) Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “Work From Home” (7/27, 2016)

Fifth Harmony, 7/27 © Epic

There’s no covering it up in the least; Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” is drenched in innuendo from start to finish.  Liken “Work From Home” to mashed potatoes smothered in brown gravy, or gravy of preference. How absurd is this irresistible pop hit? Absurd as your choice of a four-letter word. These girls essentially tell their boyfriends they “don’t gotta go to work” – a source of bread mind you – because they can “work from home.” UGH, really?  It’s further illustrated in the official music video with construction workers and parodied in hilarious fashion in Bart Baker’s twisted interpretation.

Sure, what guy wouldn’t want to oblige Fifth Harmony’s suggestiveness in an ideal, utopian world? Still, no matter how much “work” Fifth Harmony are willing to do with their bodies, is it realistically going to pay the rent, the car payment, the electric bill?  “Bills, Bills, Bills!” Destiny’s Child emphasized that back in 1999 with their The Writings on the Wall  classic! “Can you pay my bills…If you did then maybe we could chill / I don’t think you do / So, you and me are through.”

Get real Fifth Harmony – “tighten up” those harmonies! Lacking in substance or authentic emotion, “Work From Home” is the exemplification of sex on the track, built upon slang and swagger, and ultimately constructed tastefully if ridiculously and unrealistically.  It’s good for flirty, and suggestive fun, but prominent innuendo inhibits it from being transcendent.

2) Rihanna, “Kiss It Better” (Anti, 2016)

Rihanna, Anti © Roc Nation (1)

Simply say the title “Kiss It Better” to yourself.  Then, ask yourself, doesn’t it totally sound like child’s play? Of course it does because as children, many of us can remember mommy saying that she’ll “kiss it better,” referring to a “boo boo!” BUT the all-powerful innuendo gods and/or the pop songwriting/producing gods definitely weren’t writing an innocent pop song. Are there many innocent pop songs anymore? That’s a big, fat, bloated NO. Innocence in modern day pop? NEVER!

“Boy, ya know that you always do it right” definitely isn’t referencing morality but rather the quality of “the act.”  Face it, the double entendre is amplified to the nth degree, causing every lyric to be “read into.” “Do” simply isn’t do anymore, it’s “doing it.” “What are you willing to do? / Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do / (Kiss it, kiss it better, baby).” Translation – that three-letter word, sex.  Yeah, Rihanna’s “Been waitin’ on that sunshine” alright!

3) One Direction, “No Control” (Four, 2014)

One Direction, Four © Columbia

After a while, don’t all boy banders get sick of all the sweet bubblegum mess? Still, every boyband has to save face, particularly if it’s at a transitional point of their career – the great in-between of the tween years and young adulthood.  That young adulthood means that they are just dying to sing about sex, likely something many have already been “doing” beyond closed doors.  To cut to the chase, if “No Control” is supposed to be masking One Direction’s horniness, it does a poor job.

It’s clear lyrically that One Direction mean business.  They aren’t singing about emotions but rather lust and the physical reactions, rather stimulation behind it.  There’s no way that One Direction gets an “innocence” pass on lyric, “Waking up, beside you I’m a loaded gun, I can’t contain this anymore / I’m all yours, I’ve got no control.”  “Loaded gun” hey? Doesn’t seem to be one that shoots bullets…

It gets even more sensual, unsurprisingly.  “Taste, on my tongue / I don’t want to wash away the night before.” What is that taste, pray tell?  Maybe there’s less sexually-oriented activities that can be interpreted from such a line, but does that even seem possible from twentysomethings? Nah! This is Generation Y after all.

Continue reading “11 Songs Where the Innuendo is Out of Control”

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman © Republic (1)

‘Dangerous Woman’ Showcases a New, More Mature Ariana Grande

“If you want it, boy, you got it / ain’t you ever seen a princess be a bad b*tch?” Yes, if you mouth is agape to the floor, the aforementioned lyrical quote comes from the “potty mouth” (rather the “potty voice”) of former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande. On her third studio album Dangerous Woman, Grande exemplifies the hip-hop/Urban Dictionary slang that she “gives no f*cks.” In other words – more respectable, less crude words at that – Ariana Grande is indeed a “Dangerous Woman” and no longer an innocent girl. Remember when Britney Spears said, “I’m not that innocent?” Well, that describes the new, “more mature” Ariana Grande.

So is maturity measured by poise or by embracing the spirit of one’s particular age group or demographic? Maturity can be measured in both ways. On her balladry, with her debut and sophomore albums (Your Truly and My Everything), the maturity was already beyond Grande’s years vocally, hence why she drew comparisons to Mariah Carey. The material, arguably, was listenable by a more mature audience but targeted more to Grande’s younger demographic, hence the lack of over sexualizing.

The maturity that Grande makes isn’t vocally (she was already there in that department), but rather her image, ensuring that she moves beyond a younger fan base and paints herself as a credible artist as opposed to a teen-pop artist. Hey, she’s nearly 23 years of age – she’s grown! The way that most musicians do that is by going for a more rebellious, more profane sound (Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez come to mind). Ariana Grande conforms to such approaches on Dangerous Woman.

How does Ariana Grande reconstruct her image? Well for one, like the opening quote, she’s profane over the course of the album in numerous instances. On “Everyday,” she makes it clear that “He giving me that good sh*t…/oh give it to me (everyday, everyday, everyday).” For teen-pop artists, sh*t, though uttered by teenagers (and younger) more often than not, is not considered part of the bag of tricks for music catered to that age. It gets even deeper with Grande dropping the f-bomb on “I Don’t Care” (“then f*ck’s the point?”) and “Bad Decisions” (“Don’t you know I ain’t f*cking with them good boys?”).

Another way that Grande reconstructs her image is through innuendo and sexuality. “Bad Decisions” is a hotbed for it, referenced earlier. Grande doesn’t necessarily cross the line compared to some pop and urban artists, but her suggestiveness is particularly suggestive. “Side To Side” can be interpreted as being more metaphorical than literal, but had Grande and her writers opted against that golden opportunity of innuendo, it seems disappointing (“I’ve been here all night / I’ve been here all day / and boy, got me walkin’ side to side”). Yeah, “Bang Bang” gave us a taste of this, but “Side To Side,” not to mention “Bad Decisions” and the fantastic “Touch It” take it next level.

The final way that Grande reconstructs her image is the most mature way because Grande doesn’t have to ‘compromise’ morals – playing devil’s advocate of course (AG is grown from my personal perspective and free to do as she pleases). The use of minor keys, as opposed to major keys, gives Grande more fierceness. Even had Grande nipped the profanity, the darker quality of the minor key production would’ve propelled her to the dangerousness she desired.

So to make one last point – rather, raise one last question – does being conformist to rebelliousness in pop music really represent maturity in the long run? The answer is a resounding no. It seems like many popular artists are embracing the ability to flex their potty mouths and amplify sex, even more, these days. While it’s mature musically because it’s considered to be badass, it’s not mature morally, nor does it accurately represent everybody’s way of life. Sure, we’re in an age where openness and bluntness about sex are perceived to be okay but is that notion been blown out of proportion? Deep food for thought to say the least.

Jamie Foxx, Hollywood- A Story Of A Dozen Roses © RCA

Is R&B A ‘Major Player’ Anymore?

Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie © RCA
Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie © RCA

With each and every year, R&B seemingly continues to lose footing – yeah it’s the same old sermon preach year after year. Once a preeminent genre that was dominating radio, album sales, and overall market impact, R&B as a whole seems to have lost its way. While R&B has been cooling off for years, the genre was still hot in the 00s with gargantuan albums from Usher, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige to name a few. Now, even those big-named artists who were dominating the scene back-when are struggling to remain relevant in a larger, more ugly music industry.

Usher, Confessions © La Face
Gargantuan R&B albums like Usher’s Confessions seem to be a thing of the past.

R&B is not alone in its struggle for relevancy, but for a number of minorities, aside from hip-hop, it is the go-to genre – the musical preference. Personally, there has always been a soft spot for R&B, despite the fact that as a music journalist, blogger, and educator, naturally there is a love and appreciation for numerous styles. In other words, seeing R&B underperform as horrifically as it is in 2015 feels personal.

So exactly how slippery is the slope where the stability of R&B is in 2015? It’s absolutely terrible. Sure, there have been some respectable albums released, but to merely state that the sales are the only problem would be inaccurate. The total package is in a bad place and if its not fixed you have to question what’s going to happen with a major genre where black musicians were the innovators; an integral part of musical history as a whole. Another thing’s for certain too – R&B can’t merely cling to the golden age of the 60s and 70s as a propelling force for 2015 and beyond.

Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show © RCA
Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show © RCA

Several R&B releases dropped in January 2015. After a five-year hiatus, Jazmine Sullivan, one of contemporary R&B’s brightest spots returned with her third album, Reality Show. Unfortunately for the gifted dramatic contralto, the “reality” was that the album practically tanked before it even had a shot. It debuted relatively unimpressively at #12 and ultimately has spent just seven weeks on the Billboard 200.

Besides Sullivan, Ne-Yo and Charlie Wilson also dropped new albums in January – Non-Fiction and Forever Charlie respectively. Little was expected of Charlie Wilson’s album given the fact he’s past his prime musically by industry standards and he generally just isn’t a profound seller. Expectedly, Forever Charlie settled for a #17 start on the Billboard 200. Ne-Yo’s Non-Fiction gained the contemporary R&B singer another top-five bow (#5), but everyone knows that new-Ne-Yo doesn’t sell nearly as impressively as old-Ne-Yo. Similarly, including yours truly, Non-Fiction was met with mixed reviews.

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA
Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

January arguably had one bit of good news, but purists may call it a stretch. The general makeup of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special is R&B, and “Uptown Funk!” itself is retro-R&B. The album debuted within the top 10, and has remained on the Billboard 200 since its debut.

Use January as a snapshot of the bigger picture of the R&B industry. Who’s talking about Sullivan, Ne-Yo, or Wilson? No one. The same could be said of the other new R&B albums that have come out to total obscurity. Jamie Foxx’s promotional campaign for Hollywood: A Story Of A Dozen Roses totally sucked. Unsurprisingly, the album was so-so at best, and the sales matched the effort that seemed to be put into the album.Ciara’s Jackie certainly takes honors as one of the year’s biggest flops, barely hitting the top 20 when it debuted at #17. Is there any need to continue further?

Tamia, Love Life © Def Jam
Tamia, Love Life © Def Jam

It could be argued that aside from Ne-Yo, no big-time R&B artists have released albums. BUT, would/will they sell? The sales trends as of late suggests no. So again, where does R&B go from here? Must R&B artists “sell out” becoming pop artists to keep the genre “half-alive” to quote Christina Perri? Can R&B reinvent itself, maintaining the sanctity of the genre, but also reenergizing its base? How do R&B artists get the record labels to give a flying flip and actually promote their albums aggressively? It’s not happening – too many under the radar releases. June 2015 has the perfect example of an under promoted album that the record label probably “doesn’t believe in” – Tamia’s Love Life.

If something does not change, R&B is doomed. It’s not dead, but it seems to get closer year after year. IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY!

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

25 Chart Takeaways: Florence + The Machine Debuts At No. 1

Florence Welch Screen Shot from "What Kind Of Mind" music video (Republic)
Florence Welch Screen Shot from “What Kind Of Mind” music video (Republic)

Florence Welch (and her Machine) returned in a big way with her rather blue, yet beautiful new album, which sits in the penthouse this week on the Billboard 200. But guess what folks – there’s more than Florence at work? How about those 24 other chart takeaways to pass the time?

1) Florence + The Machine scores its first #1 album with How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, the collective’s third studio album. Is anyone surprised?

2) A$AP Rocky’s At.Long.Last.A$AP falls from the top spot on the Billboard 200 to #3 in its second week. This news isn’t the least bit shocking either…yawning as we speak.

3) Jason Derulo’s fourth studio album Everything Is 4 starts at #4 – seems appropriate right? If Everything really is 4, then it totally has to debut fourth since it is his fourth album and he’s trying to move FORward.

Pitch Perfect 2 © UMe

4) Pitch Perfect 2 is the sole soundtrack to remain in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 this week. Fifty Shades of Grey tumbled from #9 to #16, while Furious 7 followed suit slipping from #10 to #17.

5) Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard’s joint album Django And Jimmie lands at #7. Whatever money these two country vets make – well, “It’s All Going To Pot.”

6) Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll + Hyde rises from #9 to #17 in week number six. Truly seems like the band is embodying the whole “Jekyll” and “Hyde” thing, right?

7) Three newbies miss the top 10: Major Lazer (Peace Is The Mission, #12), Lil Durk (Remember My Name, #14), and Billy Currington (Summer Forever, #15).   The ceiling for all three of these albums appears to be L-O-W.

8) Jamie xx’s solo debut – In Colour – debuts just outside the top 20 at #21. Similarly, rapper Dom Kennedy’s latest album, By Dom Kennedy bows at #23.

Josh Groban, Stages © Reprise

9) Are the Stages narrowing for Josh Groban? The former #2 album slips from #13 to #29 in week six.

10) After a resurgence thanks to a ‘platinum edition,’ Brantley Gilbert’s Just As I Am has experienced a two week drop – #7 to #18 and #18 to #31.

11) After a hot streak, things have cooled off for gospel artist Marvin Sapp. The quietly released You Shall Live debuted equally quietly at #40. Sapp’s previous two albums – Here I Am and I Win – debuted impressively at #2 and #9 respectively.

12) Hillsong United had a solid first week with Empires debuting at #5, but week two is the exact opposite, as the album tumbles to #43.

13) Barenaked LadiesSilverball debuts modestly at #46.

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly © Aftermath / Interscope

14) Has Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly lost its commercial appeal? Somewhat, as the former #1 album slips 12 spots from #36 to #48 in its 12th week on the charts.

15) Who has the year’s latest flop? If you guessed Jamie Foxx and Hollywood: A Story Of A Dozen Roses, you’d be correct. The uninspired album falls from #32 to #61.

16) Tech N9ne may have the “Hood Go Crazy” on Special Effects, but he’s certainly not going crazy on the charts. Special Effects slipped from #49 to #64 in week five.

Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

17) No “jealousy” this week cast towards Nick Jonas as his self-titled album slips 20 spots from #46 to #66. Don’t cry too much for ole boy – he’s been on the chart for 30 weeks.

18) YelaWolf experiences an improvement in chart performance: Love Story rises from #81 to #69 in week seven.

19) We have another bomb on our hands ladies and gentlemen. Zedd may be a brilliant musician and seeming nice person, but his sophomore set True Colors is selling about as bad as some of the reviews for the album. This week, it slips from #33 to #76 – OUCH!

20) After 118 weeks on the charts, Drake’s sophomore album, Take Care is still hot – well relatively speaking. It rises from #124 to #81 this week.

Mariah Carey, #1 to Infinity © Epic

21) Mariah Carey needs to rethink things – really. #1 To Infinity can’t be the start that she’d hope for with her new deal at Epic Records – the compilation free falls from #58 to #92 with only three short weeks under its belt.

22) The TenorsUnder One Sky barely cracks the upper half of the Billboard 200 at #98.

23) There’s no “glory” in album number three for Gloriana – the country group suffers a tremendous blow to their previous top 20 fortunes as Three debuts tepidly at #116. Yep, that “fat lady has been done sung.”

24) What’s the deal Kelly Clarkson? Why is Piece By Piece arguably the quietest album of your illustrious career, slipping from #108 to #120? 14 weeks in and the sentiment is this album has been an underperformer.

25) Not only do The Darkness chart their latest album Last Of Our Kind, but they do so within the darkest portions of the chart – that blasted bottom half. Last Of Our Kind debuts at #125. Bad? – Most definitely…like horrible.


25 Chart Takeaways: A$AP Rocky Makes It Two Straight #1 Albums


A$AP Rocky surprised everybody by releasing his sophomore album one week early. It’s a good thing – it earned him another #1 album. That and 24 more exceptional chart takeaways – you don’t wanna miss ‘em folks!!!

1) A$AP Rocky scores his second career #1 album with At.Long.Last.A$AP. Had A$AP Rocky NOT dropped his new album a week early, Taylor Swift would’ve likely earned a 12th nonconsecutive week at #1 with multiplatinum album 1989 (she settles for runner-up).

2) Boosie BadAzz debuts at #3 with Touch Down 2 Cause Hell. As respectably as Boosie bows, his #3 start is nothing compared to that of chart leader A$AP Rocky’s.

3) Soundtracks continue to thrive: Pitch Perfect 2 (#4), Fifty Shades of Grey (#9), and Furious 7 (#10) .

4) Australian Christian music collective Hillsong United’s Empires debuts at #5.

Twenty One Pilot, Blurryface © Fueled By Ramen

5) “How the mighty fall”: Twenty One PilotsBlurryface tumbles from #1 to #6. More disturbing is the amount of sales/impact erosion.

6) Both Maroon 5 (V) and Josh Groban (Stages) rise in chart position #14 to #11 and #18 to #13 respectively. Sam Hunt’s rises with Montevallo is more notable (#20 to #12) because he saw a “gain in performance” according to Billboard.

7) After resurging back to the top 10, Brantley Gilbert’s Just As I Am drops 11 spots from #7 to #18, 54 weeks into its overall chart stay and two weeks into the release of a ‘Platinum edition.’

Lifehouse, Out of the Wasteland © Ironworks Music

8) Lifehouse debuts modestly at #26 with Out Of The Wasteland. The ceiling for the trio’s latest album looks quite low.

9) Alesso lands at #30 with his dance album, Forever.

Jamie Foxx, Hollywood- A Story Of A Dozen Roses © RCA

10) Jamie Foxx’s second week is “nothing to write home about.” Hollywood: A Story Of A Dozen Roses slips from #10 to #32.

11) Maybe Jamie Foxx had a bad second week, but Zedd’s was worst. True Colors drops from a respectable start at #4 to #33. It doesn’t help that True Colors has received mixed reviews.

12) After a poor couple of weeks, Shawn Mendes is on the rebound, as Handwritten improves from #54 to #34.

13) Rapper Dizzy Wright debuts at #47 with album The Growing Process: #The Second Agreement.

Tech N9ne, Special Effects © Strange Music

14) Tech N9ne stops the massive chart bleeding of Special Effects dropping just two spots from #47 to #49.

15) Mariah Carey’s greatest hits compilation #1 To Infinity has an interesting stat – it debuted at #29 and fell 29 spots this week to sit at #58.

16) Michael Jackson’s The Essential Michael Jackson compilation skyrockets back up the charts from #178 to #66. The compilation peaked at #53 and has spent 131 weeks on the Billboard 200.

17) In its third week, Snoop Dogg’s Bush continues to free fall, dropping from #44 to #69 – 25 spots.

Allen Stone, Radius © Capitol

18) Allen Stone lands at #80 with Radius, his sophomore album.

19) Brandon Flowers surely didn’t experience The Desired Effect with his sophomore album – it tumbles from #17 to #82. For you mathematicians out there, it fell 65 spots, nearly four times its peak position (aka 17 x 4 = 68, with the 65 spot drop being shy of four times the peak position at 68).

20) Country music star Chase Rice sees a spike as Ignite The Night rises from #110 to #84.

21) From “Hero to Zero” would be a great characterization for Voice winner Sawyer Fredericks’ chart path. His The Voice: The Complete Season 8 Collection toppled from #6 to #92. Wanna do the math thing again? – That’s a drop of more than 14 times the peak position of the set.

22) A$AP Rocky’s Long.Live. A$AP reenters the Billboard 200 at #106. This marks Rocky’s debut set’s 42nd week on the charts.

23) These Things Happen indeed – G-Eazy’s album improves from #127 to #109.

Ciara, Jackie © Epic

24) Ciara continues to underperform with Jackie – the set slips from #96 to #133 only four short weeks in.

Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest, Sylva © Impulse

25) Metropole Orkest & Snarky Puppy debuts at #162 with joint album Sylva.

Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface © Fueled By Ramen

25 Chart Takeaways: Twenty One Pilots Take ‘Blurryface’ to #1

Twenty One Pilot, Blurryface © Fueled By Ramen

Tyler Joseph (of Twenty One Pilots) may be “Stressed Out” but he shouldn’t be – new album Blurryface easily commands that number one spot on the Billboard 200. That and 24 more fascinating chart takeaways!

1) Nothing is blurred about the #1 album this week. Twenty One PilotsBlurryface easily tops the Billboard 200. Vessel improves from #88 to #75 in its 40th week.

2) Taylor Swift reclaims a spot in the top five as 1989 rises from #9 to #2. She can thank her new #1 single “Bad Blood” (featuring Kendrick Lamar).

Zedd, True Colors © Interscope3) Zedd goes top five as True Colors debuts at #4, besting previous album Clarity.

4) The Voice, Season 8 winner Sawyer Fredericks debuts at #6 with his collection of performances. Meghan Linsey debuts at #45, Joshua Davis debuts at #58, and Koryn Hawthorne lands at #85.

5) Brantley Gilbert’s Just As I Am sees a huge jump from #69 to #7, thanks to the release of a platinum edition of the effort.

Jamie Foxx, Hollywood- A Story Of A Dozen Roses © RCA

6) Jamie Foxx debuts at #10 with his quietly released Hollywood: A Story Of A Dozen Roses.

7) Fifty Shades of Grey slips outside of the top 10 for the first time since its release 15 weeks ago.

8) Mumford & SonsWilder Mind falls 10 spots from #2 to #12 in week three.

9) Regardless if “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherf—-r,” Maroon 5 have one of the steadiest albums on the Billboard 200 as V rises from #16 to #14 after 38 weeks in.

Brandon Flowers, The Desired Effect © Island10) Brandon FlowersThe Desired Effect debuts at #17, less impressive than the #8 start for 2010’s Flamingo.

11) The ‘stage’ is growing smaller for Josh Groban as Stages slips 10 spots from #8 to #18 four weeks in.

12) ‘Infinity’ is not going to last very long – at least judging by the #29 start of Mariah Carey’s greatest hits compilation, #1 To Infinity.

13) Country newbie Kelsea Ballerini debuts modestly at #31 with The First Time.

14) Alabama ShakesSound & Color drops 15 spots this week from #22 to #37.

Big Sean, Dark Sky Paradise © Def Jam

15) Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise takes one of its largest falls as of late, slipping from #33 to #43. Dark Sky Paradise has spent 13 weeks on the Billboard 200.

16) Snoop Dogg’s BUSH doesn’t fall gracefully – the set drops from #14 to #44.

17) Tech N9ne slips 27 spots in week 3, as Special Effects plummets from #20 to #47.

18) Trey Songz’s quietly released EPs Intermission I & II lands at #52.

Tyler Farr, Suffer In Peace © Sony Music Nashville

19) Tyler Farr seems to be ‘far’ away from a hit album as Suffer In Peace is suffering in a big way – a drop from #46 to #71.

20) Tina Campbell’s (of Mary Mary) solo album It’s Personal debuts at #90. That’s not nearly as impressive as her sister Erica’s #6 start with Help back in 2014.

21) Kelly Clarkson’s fading Piece By Piece improves 20 spots from #115 to #95.

22) Call it a flop – Ciara’s Jackie plummets 32 spots in week three from #64 to #96.

23) Hot Chip debuts modestly at #103 with latest LP Why Make Sense? They will only be “making cents” on this album.

Chris Brown & Tyga, Fan of a Fan the Album © RCA : Cash Money

24) “B**ches N Marijuana” can’t save Fan Of A Fan: The Album. The Chris Brown and Tyga project slips from #90 to #106 after only 13 weeks in. Compared to Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise, the #1 album from 13 weeks back, it currently sits at #43.

25) Incubus did work last week, but not this week. After debuting at #6 with EP Trust Fall (Side A), the effort drops 103 spots to #109. Shameful!

Mariah Carey, #1 to Infinity © Epic

Why Mariah Carey’s ‘#1 To Infinity’ Is Redundant

Mariah Carey, #1 to Infinity © Epic

Mariah Carey’s career as of late has been nothing short of a ‘hot mess.’ That is no shade to one of the greatest artists of our time, but things just haven’t clicked for Carey over the past year. Honestly, if you go back to 2009 album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, Carey’s “cooling off” period began then. Come 2014 LP Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse, well the wheels just fell off. But this article isn’t to keep Carey’s commercial misfortunes ever before her, but rather to question another career move – a greatest hits compilation.

Mariah Carey, rather than embracing her new contract with Epic by releasing a smartly promoted new album to erase the failure of her previous album, releases a greatest hits compilation. Before stones are cast, yes, greatest hits compilations are important to the established artists career as it gives fans and more casual fans the opportunity to have the highlights of the said artist’s career. The problem here is, #1 To Infinity seems like a lazy release, particularly for hardcore fans. Let me explain.

Personally, my entire album collection is gargantuan – I still believe in physical CDs and practically own a music library. Yeah, maybe that last part was an exaggeration about the music library, but this guy is good for 1000+ CDs and having more stored digitally. Mariah Carey’s discography, nearly complete, takes up a portion. Her biggest hits hail from her earlier albums, with the exception of number ones hailing from The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) and E=MC2 (2008).   Guess what, I have my own ‘greatest hits’ from her CDs of note, not to mention owning her initial #1s from years back. So, what does #1 To Infinity do for the fan like me, who owns her crucial albums and is missing the sole newbie on the album, “Infinity?” The answer is to spend $1.29 and buy the single and then compile your own #1 To Infinity compilation.

Because #1 To Infinity offers nothing new aside from one song, and many true Carey fans will already own albums housing the hits she’s rereleasing after her initial #1s, #1 To Infinity feels redundant and pointless. Yes, she’s doing a Vegas residency and there is a chance that someone goes to see her and doesn’t own her past work, but still, why not aim bigger? How about rereleasing those greatest hits as duets – that would be more creative than just reissuing the same things again, right? Or better yet, why not focus on making a killer album that isn’t pushed back, has a surefire hit single, and is promoted aggressively and try to reestablish your brand? Yes, Carey has made her ‘greatest hits’ and is past her lucrative prime, but if Carey wants more, she’s going to have to ‘give more.’

Mariah Carey, Infinity - Single © Epic

Mariah Carey Drops The Bomb On “Infinity”

Mariah Carey, Infinity - Single © Epic

Mariah Carey • Infinity – Single • Release Date: April 27, 2015 

2014 was not a good year in the least for Mariah Carey – that’s an understatement! They say that “when it rains it pours” and that would be the best way to describe Carey’s status. Me. I Am Mariah was a gargantuan flop, selling only 58,000 copies its first week out. Then came the end of her marriage with Nick Cannon. Then what about those painful high notes? Yep, it was “all bad” for Mimi, but surely things can only improve, right?

Mariah Carey is back at Epic Records, which is ultimately a fresh start considering how bad her short-lived stint on Def Jam went (an Elusive Chanteuse she was not). She’s not dropping a ‘brand new’ album, but rather releasing greatest hits set (#1 To Infinity) with some new songs. The first new Mariah Carey single from her forthcoming album is “Infinity,” which arrived April 27, 2015. How does “Infinity” stack up? It’s rock solid by all means.

Me. I Am Mariah had a solid single going for it with “#Beautiful,” but the problem was that “#Beautiful” had been out long, LONG before the album dropped. The single that ended up serving as a buzz single for the set, “You’re Mine (Eternal)” just didn’t have the oomph to propel the album to commercial success. “You’re Mine (Eternal)” was by no means bad, but when stacked against the many timeless classics that Carey has issued, not to mention even some contemporary gems, it just didn’t reach the same heights. “Infinity” on the other hand, sounds like more of a vintage Mariah Carey song.

Mariah Carey is assertive from the jump: “Why you mad? Talkin’ ‘bout you’re mad / could it be that you just lost the best you’ve ever had?” WHOA! Nick Cannon, bro – you’re totally in that doghouse! No she doesn’t explicitly reference her ex-husband, but doesn’t it seem strongly possible that he’s the subject or loosely the basis of this song? Of course – and we know M.C. knows how to throw that shade! No shade of course!

Carey sums up her emotions on the chorus singing, “Close the door, lose the key / leave my heart on the mat for me / I was yours eternally / there’s an end to infinity / to infinity.” Much like Jazmine Sullivan’s “Forever Don’t Last,” Mariah suggests that the love she thought would be enduring and everlasting isn’t. It’s by no means a new concept, but given Carey’s recent situations and the diminutive success, this type of song is well attuned to her at this juncture in her career.

The question becomes not how good “Infinity” is, but can it make people remember Carey’s prodigious vocal gifts? After all, those high notes on “All I Want For Christmas” were…yeah that horrid. Sure, a couple of questionable performances and a bad year don’t tarnish what Carey has built over the years, but since her sextuple platinum The Emancipation of Mimi and another platinum success with E=MC2, her career hasn’t been as triumphant. Sure, a greatest hits set in #1 to Infinity isn’t going to necessary reinvigorate her, but doesn’t it provide another opportunity, particularly if “Infinity” itself could catch some fire?


Madonna, Rebel Heart © Interscope

6 Artists Who Have Lost Their Luster

Madonna, Rebel Heart © Interscope

It happens to many artists – they lose their ‘luster.’ As Maroon 5 once sang, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and the same could be said about sustained commercial success and general relevance within the music industry. Many of the artists that are featured on this list are established, veteran artists who ultimately have little to prove. Yet, these artists are still releasing new music, much of which has less relevance than previous releases or hasn’t latched on like their illustrious past. Here are six artists who have lost their luster, with explanations provided.

1) Madonna 

It’s extremely hard to criticize a legend in the game, but Madonna is no longer the innovative pop diva she used to be. A prime example is the terrible rollout for her latest album, Rebel Heart. The album was beat to the #1 spot by the Empire Soundtrack, underperformed in sales, and the in its second week, dropped from #2 to #21. One album definitely doesn’t mean all luster has worn off, but Madonna’s previous album, MDNA, fell flat after a big start. Luster lost – methinks so.

2) Prince

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros

This one hurts to even pen and it definitely deserves explanation. In regards to touring and thriving off the past, Prince continues to be one of the best to ever do it. This argument could be said about the aforementioned Madonna as well. But in regard to his relevance as of late with new material, Prince has lost some of his luster. Yes, his previous two albums ART OFFICIAL AGE and PLECTRUMELECTRUM both debuted in the top 10, but neither have spawned a notable hit or truly electrified the charts. Back in the 00s, Prince had a comeback that featured several notable albums in Musicology (2004), 3121 (2006), Planet Earth (2007), and MPLSound/ Lotusflow3r/ Elixir (2009). Luster lost – as far as contemporary hits, yes.


3) Mariah Carey 

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse © Def Jam

Mariah Carey’s lost luster may be looking up as she recently landed a new deal with Epic. But after all the misfortunes that Carey has went through as of late, she’s in serious need of a lift. Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel definitely didn’t ignite the charts in 2009, debuting much less robustly than either The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) or E=MC2 (2008) did. Little did Carey know her biggest flop would come with the awkwardly titled Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse, which missed the top spot of the Billboard 200 selling a tepid 58,000 copies. Throw in some horrid live performances where Carey couldn’t buy her high notes if she wanted to, and it would seem Mimi is as tarnished as they come. 

4) 50 Cent

50 Cent, Animal Ambition - An Untamed Desire To Win © G Unit

R.I.P. Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent. He had a run with three multiplatinum/platinum albums, but by the time 2009 effort Before I Self Destruct came about, 50 just didn’t feel nearly as compelling or captivating. Then 50 would miss on numerous singles to try to recapture his swagger, never doing so. 2014 indie album Animal Ambition went nowhere, debuting extremely modestly at #4 selling just 47,000 copies. Sure it’s an indie album, but an MC that was as huge as 50 Cent could and should be doing better – just saying! 

5) India Arie

India Arie, SongVersation © Motown

India Arie to her credit is incredibly consistent. That said, she’s too consistent in the regard she has yet to shake up her formula. When India Arie first broke through, she was definitely a big deal. Who wasn’t digging “Video” off of Acoustic Voyage? She was nominated for multiple Grammys for that album, though lost to another upstart, Alicia Keys. She’d get her just due on another respectable effort, Voyage To India, while she’d land her only #1 album to date, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship. Since a heroic trio of albums though, Arie has become to complacent – almost stationary from an artistic perspective. How many people will remember much about Testimony: Vol. 2 (2009) or Songversation (2013). The answer is few. 

6) Usher 

Usher, Good Kisser © RCA

This is another shocker. Yes, Usher did very well for himself with a naughty, but hot single in “Good Kisser.” That said, Usher releasing numerous singles in 2014 without a planned album is almost never a good sign. Throw in the fact that his last album, 2013’s Looking 4 Myself was very different from Usher’s previous albums (electro-R&B), and the sales were not what one would call, um, spectacular. While Usher still has enough looks, charm, and talent to make a valiant comeback – particularly compared to others on this list – these recent trends suggest perhaps he truly needs to work arduously to reclaim his swagger.

Luke James © Island

Rankings: Best R&B Albums of 2014

Teyana Taylor, VII © G.O.O.D. Ranking things is hard – understatement. So look, there were many sound R&B albums in 2014 – don’t let the abysmal sales dissuade you. That said, there were only a couple of truly great ones – led by one unopposed homerun – that sit atop the standings. Here are the 25 26 Best R&B albums of 2014…maybe.

1) D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah 

D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah © RCA

There was no better R&B album in 2014. It’s not even that close as D’Angelo came back in a huge way. R&B hasn’t sounded like this since…you get the idea.

Two Favorites: “1000 Deaths” & “Sugah Daddy”

2) Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour © Capitol

If you consider Smith’s album to be an R&B album, well, it definitely sits atop the list.

Two Favorites: “Stay With Me” & “I’m Not The Only One”


3) Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions

Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions © Capitol

London definitely gave Mary a lift. Too bad the sales didn’t give her one as well – no “Therapy” for that, unfortunately!

Two Favorites: “Therapy” & “Whole Damn Year”


4) Pharrell Williams, G I R L

Pharrell Williams, G I R L © Columbia

We “came and got it” Skateboard P, and it was G-O-O-D.

Two Favorites: “Happy” & “Gust of Wind”


5) Prince, Art Official Age

Prince, ART OFFICIAL AGE © Warner Bros Eccentricity is always a win in my book – let’s “Funknroll!”

Two Favorites: “Breakdown” & “Funknroll”

6) K. Michelle, Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart?

K. Michelle, Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? © Atlantic

Can’t knock K. Michelle for her exceptional pipes or even her honesty here. She just wants the perfect man, and she knows “Drake Would Love” her!

Two Favorites: “Love ‘Em All” and “Maybe I Should Call”


7) Jennifer Hudson, JHUD

Jennifer Hudson, JHUD © RCA

I can’t dance, but the grooves on JHUD certainly made me want to.

Two Favorites: “It’s Your World” and “I Can’t Describe (The Way I Feel)”


8) Trey Songz, Trigga

Trey Songz, Trigga © Atlantic

I am a firm believer that Trey Songz really did invent sex. He loves to sing about it too much.

Two Favorites: “Cake” and “SmartPhones”


9) August Alsina, Benediction

August Alsina, Testimony © Def Jam

Since it’s the Benediction, let the church say, amen!

Two Favorites: “Make It Home” (featuring Jeezy) & “Benediction” (featuring Rick Ross)

10) Mali Music, Mali Is…

Mali Music, Mali Is © RCA

Underrated, I definitely “Believe” in Mali Is… There’s plenty of “Heavy Love” to be found here.

Two Favorites: “Heavy Love” & “Believe”

11) Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want © Daptone

Give The People What They Want is just another sound traditional R&B album by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – no “Retreat” necessary here!

Two Favorites: “Retreat!” & “People Get What They Deserve”


12) Kelis, Food

Kelis, Food © Ninja Tune

A yummy, yet underrated album – love those “Jerk Ribs” especially!

Two Favorites: “Jerk Ribs” & “Floyd”

13) Ariana Grande, My Everything

Ariana Grande, My Everything © Republic

Is she purely pop or is she R&B enough to hang? My Everything is a solid album, and the urban influence is strong, so, we’ll put the “Problem” child in the middle.

Two Favorites: “Problem” and “Bang Bang” (Jessie J featuring Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj)

14) Chris Brown, X

Chris Brown, X © RCA

He definitely deserves some credit for making a respectable album following that mess named Fortune.

Two Favorites: “Add Me In” and “New Flame”

15) Marsha Ambrosius, Friends & Lovers

Marsha Ambrosius, Friends & Lovers

Friends & Lovers ranks among the most sensual albums to grace this list. Not everyday there’s a song named “69” – just saying!

Two Favorites: “69” & “Stronger”


16) Luke James, Luke James

Luke James © Island

Another quietly issued album, Luke James has been building buzz for years since “I Want You” was released.

Two Favorites: “Trouble” and “Options”


17) Aloe Blacc, Lift Your Spirit

Aloe Blacc, Lift Your Spirit © Interscope

He’s a pretty confident dude – I would be to if I were “The Man.” 

Two Favorites: “The Man” & “Love Is The Answer”


18) Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love, Marriage & Divorce

Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love Marriage & Divorce © Motown Toni and Babyface seem to cover their bases with the title itself. The album does so too.

Two Favorites: “Hurt You” & “Where Did It Go Wrong?”


19) Tinashe, Aquarius

Tinashe, Aquarius © RCA Tinashe is just “2 On” to leave off the list – she can even make a “Thug Cry!”

 Two Favorites: “2 On” & “Thug Cry”

20) Joe, Bridges

Joe, Bridges © Plaid Lover

The lack of flash or maybe just Joe’s continual consistency keeps this album lower than it should be on this list. It’s no “Dilemma” though.

Two Favorites: “Till The Rope Gives Way” & “The Rest Will Follow”

 21) Jhené Aiko, Souled Out

Jhené Aiko, Souled Out © Def Jam

One of the quietest R&B albums on this list, it is an interesting listen by all means – no worries and no “Pressure” Jhené.

Two Favorites: “Limbo Limbo Limbo” & “The Pressure”

22) Leela James, Fall For You

Leela James, Fall For You © BMG Rights Mgmt

Didn’t we all fall for Leela James this year? Fall For You was another fine addition to her discography!

Two Favorites: “Who’s Gonna Love You More” & “Say That” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)


23) Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse

Mariah Carey, Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse

We all know it didn’t sell and MC has had a bad year, but the album wasn’t nearly as bad everything else – it definitely has its “Beautiful” moments.

Two Favorites: “Beautiful” & “Heavenly (No Ways Tired / Can’t Give Up Now)” 


24) Daley, Days & Nights

Daley, Days & Nights © Republic

Yeah, few people know who Daley is, but they should – this British contemporary R&B singer is legit.

Two Favorites: “Blame The World” & “Broken”


25) Ledisi, The Truth

Ledisi, The Truth © Verve 

Though not nearly as distinctive as some of her previous albums, The Truth still shows Ledisi’s craft for making a solid R&B album.

Two Favorites: “I Blame You” and “88 Boxes”


26) Teyana Taylor, VII

Teyana Taylor, VII © G.O.O.D. Quietly released, there were plenty of pros about Teyana Taylor’s debut.

Two Favorites: “Just Different” and “Request”