One Direction, Made in the A.M. © Sony

Best Of The Rest: 45 Albums That Missed ‘25 Best Albums of 2015’


Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby © Atlantic

Recently, on Starpulse.com, I posted my 25 Best Albums of 2015. Ask any music critic/journalist – this is not an easy task selecting and the ranking a limited number of albums. It’s both subjective and objective to an extent. Reviews and ratings given to the albums selected are considered, BUT even a music critic’s views change and sometimes something that was great at the time fades, or something underrated gains value.

But this isn’t about the 25 best. It’s about the rest. On this list alone, there are 45 albums that were considered – probably more not listed here. That tells you how arduous the task of selecting albums are, as well as how many albums my ears have been privy to in 2015 (and these are just the respectable ones). Here are 45 albums that missed my ’25 Best Albums of 2015’ list. 

1) Mark Ronson, Uptown Special

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

Favorites: “Summer Breaking,” “Feel Right,” “Uptown Funk” and “Daffodils” 

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

2) Bilal, In Another Life

Bilal, In Another Life © eOne

Favorites: “Sirens II,” “Open Up The Door,” “Satellites,” “Money Over Love,” “Holding It Back”

Rating: ★★★★½

Here’s the link to my track-by-track review (Brentmusicreviews.com).

3) Fall Out Boy, American Beauty/American Psycho

Fall Out Boy, American Beauty:American Psycho © Island

Favorites: “American Beauty/American Psycho,” “Centuries,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Uma Thurman” and “Immortals”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

4) Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor

Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor © Loma Vista

Favorites: “Killing Strangers,” “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,” “Birds of Hell Awaiting,” and  “Cupid Carries A Gun”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my takeaways article/review (Starpulse.com) as well as my traditional review (brentmusicreviews.com). 

5) Janet Jackson, Unbreakable

Janet Jackson, Unbreakable © Rhythm Nation / BMG

Favorites: “Unbreakable,” “Burnitup!” “Broken Hearts Heal,” “No Sleeep” and “Black Eagle”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

6) Vivian Green, Vivid

Vivian Green, Vivid © Make Noise

Favorites: “I’m Not Broken,” “All I Want Is You,” “Get Right Back To My Baby” and “Disrespectful”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

7) G-Eazy, When It’s Dark Outside

G-Eazy, When It’s Dark Out © RCA

Favorites: “Me, Myself & I,” “One of Them,” “Drifting,” “Sad Boy,” and “Everything Will Be OK”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my takeaways article/review (Starpulse.com) as well as a traditional review (brentmusicreviews.com).

 8) Tamar Braxton, Calling All Lovers 

Tamar Braxton, Calling All Lovers © Epic

Referenced Highlights: “Simple Things,” “If I Don’t Have You,” “Raise The Bar” and “Free Fallin’”

Rating: ★★★★ 

I wrote quite a bit of commentary about Braxton’s Calling All Lovers. The full-length review appeared at Pop Matters. A short take review appeared on brentmusicreviews.com. A special article about Tamar’s recent success compared to her sister Toni’s success appeared on Starpulse.com.

 9) Jill Scott, Woman

Jill Scott, Woman © Atlantic

Favorites: “Prepared,” “Lighthouse,” “Fool’s Gold,” “Closure” and “You Don’t Know”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my full-length review (Starpulse.com) as well as a short take review (brentmusicreviews.com).

10) Ty Dolla $ign, Free TC

Ty Dolla $ign, Free TC © Atlantic

Favorites: “LA,” “Saved,” “Straight Up,” “Solid,” “When I See You” and “Blasé”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

11) Rick Ross, Black MarketRick Ross, Black Market © Def Jam 

Favorites: “Free Enterprise,” “Smile Mama, Smile,” “Crocodile Python,” “Ghostwriter” and “D.O.P.E.”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

12) A Great Big World, When The Morning Comes

A Great Big World, When The Morning Comes © Epic (2)

Favorites: “Kaleidoscope,” “Hold Each Other,” “Oasis,” “Won’t Stop Running” and “One Step Ahead”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

 13) Tyrese, Black RoseTyrese, Black Rose © Voltron Recordz 

Favorites: “Dumb Shit,” “Shame,” “Don’t Wanna Look Back,” “Prior To You” and “Without My Heart” 

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

14) Alessia Cara, Know-It-All

Alessia Cara, Know It All © Def Jam

Favorites: “Seventeen,” “Here,” “Four Pink Walls” and “Wild Things”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com). 

15) BØRNS, Dopamine

BØRNS, Dopamine © Interscope

Favorites: “Electric Love,” “American Money,” “Holy Ghost,” “Dopamine” and “Fool”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

16) Carrie Underwood, Storyteller

Carrie Underwood, Storyteller © Sony Music Nashville

Favorites: “Renegade Runaway,” “Dirty Laundry,” “Smoke Break,” “Choctaw County Affair” and “The Girl You Think I Am”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

17) Luke Bryan, Kill The Lights

Luke Bryan, Kill The Lights © Capitol Nashville (2)

Favorites: “Kick The Dust Up,” “Kill The Lights,” “Strip It Down,” “Home Tonight” and “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

18) Drake & Future, What A Time To Be Alive

Drake & Future, What A Time To Be Alive © Cash Money:Epic

Favorites: “Big Rings,” “Diamond Dancing,” “Scholarships” and “I’m the Plug”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my takeaways article/review (Starpulse.com).

19) Game, The Documentary 2

Game, Documentary 2 © Blood Money : Entertainment One U.S.

Favorites: “On Me,” “Don’t Trip,” “Standing On Ferraris,” “Mula,” “The Documentary 2” and “100” 

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

 20) Game, The Documentary 2.5

The Game, The Documentary 2.5 © Entertainment One

Favorites: “From Adam,” “Last Time You Seen,” “My Flag/Da Homies,” “Life” and “El Chapo”

Rating: ★★★★ 

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

21) Jeezy, Church In These Streets

Jeezy, Church In These Streets © Def Jam (2)

Favorites: “Grind State,” “God,” “Church In These Streets, “Sweet Life,” “Scared of the Dark” and “Forgive Me”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

22) Chris Young, I’m Comin’ Over

Chris Young, I'm Comin' Over © Sony Nashville/RCA

Favorites: “I’m Comin’ Over,” “Think Of You,” “I Know A Guy” and “Sober Saturday Night”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

23) Angie Stone, Dream  

Angie Stone, Dream © Shanachie

Highlights: “Dolla Bill,” “Clothes Don’t Make The Man,” “Magnet” and “2 Bad Habits”

Rating: FAVORABLE (no star rating assigned)

Here’s the link to my original review (theurbanmusicscene.com).

24) One Direction, Made in the A.M.

One Direction, Made in the A.M. © Sony

Favorites: “Hey Angel,” “Drag Me Down,” “Perfect,” “End of the Day,” “Never Enough” and “Olivia” 

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

 25) Mac Demarco, Another One Mac Demarco, Another One © Captured Tracks 

Favorites: “The Way You’d Love Her,” “Another One,” “Just to Put Me Down” and “A Heart Like Hers”

Rating: ★★★★ 

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

26) Melanie Martinez, Dollhouse

Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby © Atlantic

Favorites: “Carousel,” “Soap,” “Pity Party” and “Tag You’re It”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

27) Mac Miller, GO:OD AM

Mac Miller, GO:OD am © Warner Bros

Favorites: “Brand Name,” “100 Grandkids,” “Time Flies,” “Break The Law” and “Ascension”

Rating: ★★★★

There was quite a bit of commentary about Miller’s new album. The original full-length review appeared on Starpulse.com. A lyrical analysis review appeared on brentmusicreviews.com. I also wrote a review about buzz single “100 Grandkids” prior to the release of GO:OD AM (brentmusicreviews.com). 

28) Andra Day, Cheers To The Fall

Andra Day, Cheers To The Fall © Buskin/Warner Bros

Favorites: “Forever Mine,” “Gold,” “Not Today,” “Gin & Juice (Let Go My Hand)” and “Rise Up” 

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

29) Brett Eldredge, Illinois

Brett Eldredge, Illinois © Atlantic Nashville

Favorites: “Fire,” “You Can’t Stop Me,” “Lose My Mind,” “Drunk On Your Love” and “Shadow”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

30) Stacey Barthe, BEcoming

Stacy Barthe, BEcoming © Motown

Favorites: “In My Head,” “Me Versus Me,” “Find It (Transitions),” “Flawed Beautiful Creatures” and “Hey You There”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

31) A$AP Rocky, AT. LONG. LAST. A$AP

A$AP Rocky, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP © RCA

Favorites: “Holy Ghost,” “L$D,” “Excuse Me,” “Jukebox Joints,” “Wavybone,” “M’$” and “Everyday”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com) as well as a lengthier track-by-track review (brentmusicreviews.com). 

32) Tech N9ne, Special Effects

Tech N9ne, Special Effects © Strange Music

Favorites: “Aw Yeah? (Intervention),” “Lacrimosa,” “Shroud,” “Psycho Bitch III,” “Wither,” “Hood Go Crazy,” “Yates” and “A Certain Comfort”

Rating: ★★★½

 Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

33) Nate Ruess, Grand Romantic

Nate Ruess, Grand Romantic © Fueled By Ramen

Favorites: “AhHa,” “Nothing Without Love,” “What This World Is Coming To,” “It Only Gets Much Worse” and “Brightside”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com). 

34) Babyface, Return of the Tender Lover  

Babyface, Return of the Tender Lover © Def Jam (2)

Favorites: “We’ve Got Love,” “Exceptional,” “Love and Devotion” and “Something Bout You”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

35) August Alsina, This Thing Called Life 

August Alsina, This Thing Called Life © Def Jam

Favorites: “Job,” “Why I Do It,” “Hip-Hop,” “Dreamer” and “Song Cry”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

36) Tamia, Love Life 

Tamia, Love Life © Def Jam

Favorites: “Chaise Lounge,” “Sandwich And A Soda,” “Red Lipstick” and “Like You Do”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

37) Tori Kelly, Unbreakable Smile

Tori Kelly, Unbreakable Smile © Capitol

Favorites: “Unbreakable Smile,” “Nobody Love,” “Expensive,” “Falling Slow” and “Anyway” 

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

38) Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece

Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece © RCA

Favorites: “Heartbeat Song,” “Invincible,” “Run Run Run,” “I Had A Dream” and “Nostalgia”

Rating: ★★★½

In contributed plenty of commentary around the time of the release of Piece By Piece. The original full-length review appeared on starpulse.com. In addition to the full-length review, a takeaways post about Clarkson’s success was featured. On brentmusicreviews.com, an evergreen article picking her career best songs was featured. 

39) Adam Lambert, The Original High 

Adam Lambert, The Original High © Warner Bros

Favorites: “Ghost Town,” “The Original High,” “Underground,” “There I Said It” and “Rumors”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

 40) Jadakiss, Top 5 Dead Or Alive

Jadakiss, Top 5 Dead Or Alive © Def Jam

Favorites: “You Can See,” “Y.O. (Youthful Offenders),” “Kill,” “Realest in the Game” and “Rain”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

41) Meghan Trainor, Title  

Meghan Trainor, Title © Epic

Favorites: “All About That Bass,” “Close Your Eyes,” “Walkashame” and “Lips Are Movin”

Rating: ★★★½

The original review of Title appeared on Starpulse.com. Also, a special article pitting Trainor head-to-head with R&B standout Jazmine Sullivan appeared as well.

42) Leon Bridges, Coming Home

Leon Bridges, Coming Home © Columbia

Favorites: “Coming Home,” “Brown Skin Girl,” “Lisa Sawyer” and “River”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (brentmusicreviews.com).

43) Meek Mill, Dreams Worth More Than Money

Meek Mill, Dreams Worth More Than Money © Atlantic

Favorites: “Lord Knows,” “Classic,” “The Trillest,” “R.I.C.O.” and “Ambitionz”

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com).

 44) Justin Bieber, Purpose

Justin Bieber, Purpose © Def Jam

Favorites: “What Do You Mean?” “Sorry,” “Life Is Worth Living,” “Were Are Ü Now,” “Purpose”; “Been You” (Deluxe Edition)

Rating: ★★★½

Here’s the link to my takeaways article/review (Starpulse.com) as well as a traditonal review (brentmusicreviews.com). 

45) Cee-Lo Green, Heart Blanche 

Cee Lo Green, Heart Blanche © Atlantic

Favorites: “Est. 1980s,” “Mother May I,” “Robin Williams,” “Sign of the Times” and “CeeLo Green Sings The Blues”

Rating: ★★★★

Here’s the link to my original review (Starpulse.com). 

Honorary Mentions

Haven’t heard them, but should’ve/want to:

1) Erykah Badu, But You Cain’t Use My Phone

2) The Internet, Ego Death

3) Kehlani, You Should Be Here

4) James Taylor, Before This World

5) Iron Maiden, Book Of Souls

6) Carly Rae Jepsen, E•MO•TION

7) Pusha T, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn

8) Grimes, Art Angels

9) Alan Jackson, Alcohol & Angels

10) Wolf Alice, My Love Is Cool

Janet Jackson, Unbreakable © Rhythm Nation / BMG

25 Chart Takeaways: Janet Jackson Takes ‘Unbreakable’ To No. 1  


 

Janet Jackson, Unbreakable © Rhythm Nation / BMG

Was there ever any doubt that Janet Jackson would debut atop the Billboard 200 with her comeback album? Nah! Janet Jackson is the main attraction, but there are more takeaways to be taken from this week’s chart! Here goes nothing!

1) Janet Jackson scored a seventh number one album with Unbreakable. Sure, the numbers don’t compare to her past triumphs, but Jackson still sold six-figures. You go girl!

2) The ‘beauty’ is real for The WeekndBeauty Behind The Madness moves up three spots from #5 to #2.

3) What about Tamar Braxton – didn’t she drop that new album Calling All Lovers? Indeed she did, but Calling All Lovers settled for a #5 start and sold considerably less than 2013’s Love & War.

Fetty Wap © 300 Entertainment

4) Backtracking a couple of spots, it should be noted that the top five of the Billboard 200 is comprised of all urban efforts – three R&B albums (Janet Jackson, The Weeknd, and Tamar Braxton) and two hip-hop albums (Drake & Future’s What A Time To Be Alive at #3 and Fetty Wap’s Fetty Wap at #4).

5) Not a bad second week for Thomas Rhett. Tangled Up drops just one spot from #6 to #7. Interestingly, he sits ahead of two albums that debuted higher last week – George Strait’s Cold Beer Conversation (drops from #4 to #8) and Don Henley’s Cass County (drops from #3 to #10).

6) Clutch misses the top 10 with latest album Psychic Warfare, which lands at #11.

7) Sevendust lands at #13 with latest effort, Kill The Flaw.

Shawn Mendes, Handwritten © Island

8) There’s something about Shawn Mendes – oh it’s got to be those “Stitches” fueling his debut album’s (Handwritten) nine-point gain from 24th to 15th.

9) Avicii performs only so-so with sophomore album Stories. He settles for a #17 start.

10) Trivium earns the final debut of the top 20 – Silence In The Snow bows at #19.

11) Bryson Tiller sees his debut album T R A P S O U L drop 10 spots from #11 to #21 in week two.

12) Three new albums grace the top 30 – Collective Soul’s See What You Started By Continuing (#25), Queensrÿche’s Condition Human (#27), and The Winery Dog’s Hot Streak (#30).

Mac Miller, GO:OD am © Warner Bros

13) Mac Miller’s GO:OD AM isn’t going too far – this week the album drops from #18 to #28 just three weeks in.

14) Bad second weeks for both CHVRCHES and Disclosure. Respective albums Every Open Eye and Caracal slip 29 spots from #8 to #37 and #9 to #38. Ouch!

15) Matt Nathanson shows those fangs at #43… well not really, but 43rd is where Show Me Your Fangs starts.

16) Eagles of Death Metal’s Zipper Down debuts modestly at #59.

Dr. Dre, Compton A Soundtrack © Aftermath:Interscope

17) Dr. Dre and Compton seem to have lost a lot of traction where sales are concerned – it slips from #50 to #66 nine weeks in.

18) Talk about a horrid second week. The Dead Weather plummets from #10 to #83 with Dodge And Burn.

19) Children Of Bodom debut at #92 with I Worship Chaos.

Muse, Drones © Warner Bros

20) Muse’s Drones reenters the Billboard 200 at #95, marking only its eighth week on the chart.

Tyrese, Black Rose © Voltron Recordz

21) Tyrese rebounds a little…Black Rose improves from #138 to #123, 13 weeks in.

22) Florence + The Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful drops 60 spots from #97 to #157, 19 weeks in.

23) Andy Mineo’s Uncomfortable drops 72 spots from #86 to #158 in just three weeks.

Troye Sivan, WILD - EP © Universal Music Australia

24) Troye Sivan drops an unkind 60 spots with WILD (#100 to #160).

25) A short two weeks on the chart, Kaskade drops from #25 to #164 with latest album Automatic. For you mathematicians, that’s a 135 spot drop!

Tamar Braxton, Calling All Lovers © Epic

Tamar Braxton, ‘Calling All Lovers’ – Review (Short Take)


Tamar Braxton, Calling All Lovers © Epic

Braxton Shows Off Mad Pipes Throughout ‘Calling All Lovers 

Tamar Braxton • Calling All Lovers • Epic • Release Date: October 2, 2015

Let’s keep this one short and sweet – Tamar Braxton steps up her game on her third LP Calling All Lovers. The once delayed album is quite impressive and goes to show that prejudging an album is a bad choice. Here are some highlights and takeaways after listening to Calling All Lovers.

“Simple Things” wins the award for most soulful performance from Calling All Lovers. Tamar sings her butt off, showing her incredible vocal grit and incredible range. We always knew that Tamar could sing, but she gives all of the goods and more on this stirring, memorable throwback soul joint.

“If I Don’t Have You” represented one of the first hint of the sheer power of Braxton’s pipes, though it was greatly underrated. Hearing it contextually, the true beauty and grandiose nature of the song shines undoubtedly. Again, “If I Don’t Have You” has a soulfulness that clearly comes from the past, which fuels its overall soundness.

Plenty of other moments shine over the course of Calling All Lovers. Prior to “If I Don’t Have You” comes two big-time vocals on “Never” and “Circles,” both feeding off the momentum catalyzed on “Simple Things.” “Raise the Bar” reminisces back to “Love and War,” sounding like its companion piece/follow up. Penultimate track “Free Fallin’” thrives in the adult contemporary vein – a familiar but tailor made script for Braxton.

Ultimately, Calling All Lovers is a fine R&B album. More notable is how much better Calling All Lovers is compared to Braxton’s sophomore effort Love and War. Yes, Love and War had hit Grammy-nominated single “Love and War,” but Calling All Lovers packs a mightier punch with more well-rounded songs and more prodigious vocals. This folks is how the female R&B album should be done.

★★★★

R&B: The Good & Bad Takeaways So Far in 2014


Beyonce7-20130903-58

2014 has been a mixed year for R&B.  There’s been some good and there has also been so bad.  Even though R&B is still struggling, 2014 has allowed for R&B to have its moments.  Then again, it’s also had its bombs…big time bombs. 

The Good🙂

Beyonce3-20130903-63Beyoncé gave R&B a shot in the… well she gave it a shot of commercial relevance with her ‘visual album’

Alicia Keys regains some lost swagger, besting John Legend for the Grammy award for Best R&B Album

 Sharon Jones shows she’s back with a vengeance following cancer on her new LP (with The Dap-Kings), Give The People What They Want

Toni Braxton & Babyface perform better than expected commercially on Love, Marriage & Divorce (66,000 copies sold the first week)

Pharrell WilliamsG I R L debuts at no. 2 and sells a respectable 112,000 copies…

The Recording Academy finally recognizes Robin Thicke with multiple Grammy nominations, albeit in pop categories.

Ashantiz-20140127-165Ashanti’s long-delayed BraveHeart sells 28,000 copies and keeps her top ten Billboard 200 streak alive; better than expected after a lengthy hiatus and a switch from major to indie

John Newman (Tribute), Daley (Days & Nights), and Sam Smith (Nirvana EP) bring top-notch Brit-soul to America.

Algebra Blessett delivered one hot independent R&B album with Recovery (eOne).

Electronic duo Phantogram give legendary soul group The Chi-Lites some love on their song “Bill Murray” (Voices), which samples “The Coldest Days of My Life”.

Bruno Mars was awesome at the Super Bowl.  Classify him as pop if you want to, but Bruno has plenty of soul.  Oodles of it!

The Bad😦

81hOVzIzucL._SL1500_R&B STILL doesn’t sell like it used to (except for Bey…)

Tamar Braxton gets no Grammy love for her powerful adult contemporary R&B hit “Love & War”… guess it didn’t matter how much she was fighting for love…

No Grammys for Fantasia’s Side Effects Of You? Guess that’s what happens when one is nominated alongside Rihanna.

Candice Glover debuts with embarrassing numbers for her debut R&B album Music Speaks; additionally the numbers are south of R&B contemporaries (no. 14, 19,000 copies)

Going back to that American Idol thing, Ruben Studdard released his sixth album, Unconditional via Verve. It got very few bites… that would be an understatement.  But this again, his debut did have that song “No Ruben” on it… just saying!

41u6FsCRi-L._SL500_AA280_John Legend doesn’t win a Grammy of any sort for Love in the Future, a truly brilliant, soulful affair… just wrong! Do we have no appreciation for one of the classiest, soulful artists of our generation?

Ashanti’s numbers suck (regardless of the “good” point)… 28,000 copies, really? #NOSWAG

British R&B singer Daley’s debut album, Days & Nights got slept on big-time… Where was the promotional intensity? Dude can blow vocally!

Ty Dolla $ign is, um, NASTY! Have you heard Beach House (EP)?

Did I mention R&B doesn’t sell like it used to? I thought so.

 

The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Complete!


Juicy J-WBU-019355

After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task.  Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs.  Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix.  Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.

100

“I Luv This Sh*t”

August Alsina featuring Trinidad James

From album: Downtown: Life Under the Gun

August Alsina has one foul mouth on him, but his real talk mixed with the slower, horn-accentuated production is a match made in heaven, if a blasphemous one (see the hook).

99

“Cabaret”

Alice Smith

From album: She

According to highly underrated alt-R&B musician Alice Smith, Hollywood isn’t very kind: “I see no reason for chasing / in Hollywood, got to lose my patience / want this life to be a cabaret…” Hollywood may not be for the ‘faint of heart’, but “Cabaret” it self is brilliant.

98

“Every Man Should Know”

Harry Connick, Jr.

From album: Every Man Should Know

Sometimes the simplest, and most important life lessons to become a gentleman are best conveyed through song, preferably a mix between traditional pop, jazz, and country.

97

“Sophomore”

Ciara

From album: Ciara

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjderx_Z/

Judging by this track, Ciara is far from being a ‘freshman’… definitely. “I ain’t no amateur / baby I know how to handle ya / If you ready for this ride, get your saddle up / I need a boy with some stamina…”

 96

“Golden Salvation (Jesus Piece)”

Wale

From album: The Gifted

We expect nothing less than Wale’s clever wordplay between “piece” and “peace”, particularly on an album titled The Gifted.  Specifically, Wale informs us that too many people don’t want to hear about Jesus or his ‘peaceful’, Christian approach; they’re more concerned about the bling-bling (aka Jesus piece).

95

“Holy Grail”

Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake

From album: Magna Carta…Holy Grail

Magna Carta…Holy Grail certainly left plenty to be desired, but few can deny that Jay-Z is one of the kings – all hail, “Holy Grail”!

94

“Unf**kwittable”

Kid Cudi

From album: Indicud 

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjdem6WN/

Basically, Cudi is saying you can’t mess with him… he’s unbreakable… or something like that.

93

“Let Us Move On”

Dido featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Girl Who Got Away

Even English singer/songwriter Dido had to get Kendrick Lamar on the track… can’t blame her.  “Let Us Move On” is arguably the best moment from an underrated album nobody bought.   Well, I bought it to be fair.

92

“Vegas Girl”

Conor Maynard

From album: Contrast

The video is a trip…‘course the song is too.  Conor may still have some ‘schmaltz’ about him, but he also has some swag.  Swag on brother – swag on!

91

“Pusher Lover Girl”

Justin Timberlake

From album: The 20/20 Experience

Love and sex have been compared and likened to everything at this point (thanks R. Kelly).  JT decides to make his lady like a drug dealer, only she deals love instead of say cocaine.  What’s shocking is that this album opener works triumphantly.

90

“Clappers”

Wale featuring Juicy J Nicki Minaj

From album: The Gifted

What does one learn from the ‘cellulite anthem’ “Clappers”? That “Shawty got a big ole butt…OH YEAHHHHHH!!!”

89

“Heart Attack”

Demi Lovato

From album: Demi 

I’m not going to front, I’ve been listening to Demi put her “defenses up” all summer…  I don’t think she could really survive the number of heart attacks she’d receive at the hands of my playlist on repeat though…

88

“The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”

Alice In Chains

From album: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

While the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs (at least that I can remember off the top of my head), I’m not so sure Satan created them… Regardless, this title track from Alice In Chains’ most recent album was among the best hard rock performances of the year, potential misconceptions and all.

87

“While I’m Alive”

STRFKR

From album: Miracle Mile

While I’m Alive” sports an irresistible, danceable groove; Electronic cues further sweeten things while the soulful guitar is the ‘cherry on top’.  Well written, the theme of “While I’m Alive” is getting past the past, broken relationships, and living ‘while I’m alive.’

86

“Bandz A Make Her Dance

Juicy J featuring 2 Chainz Lil Wayne

From album: Stay Trippy

Everyone needs a good stripper anthem in his (or her) lives, right? On the raunchy “Bandz A Make Her Dance”, Juicy J spits: “Bands a make her dance, bands a maker her dance / All these chicks poppin’ p***y, I’m just poppin’ bands…”

85

“Body Party”

Ciara

From album: Ciara

Just when ‘the art of making love’ was getting boring… Ciara’s here to spice things up!

84

“Her Favorite Song”

Mayer Hawthorne

From album: Where Does This Door Go

Yeah, the accompanying music video is weird, even if the ‘dogs’ are meant to represent guys that are dogs (in theory), but the song is brilliant.  “But when she gets home, she puts her headphones on / she plays her favorite song and fades away…” I do the same thing… well not quite in the same context though…

83

“Brave”

Sara Bareilles

From album: The Blessed Unrest

Here’s the gist of the song: STAND UP AND BE A MAN!!!  $%^!

82

“Trojans”

Atlas Genius

From album: When It Was Now

I promise this song is not about a popular brand of condoms or making love… really:  “Take a picture you could never recreate / write a song / make a note / for the lump that sits inside your throat…” I promise!

81

Forbidden Fruit

J. Cole featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: Born Sinner

I know, I know – I somehow missed this gem on my “50 Best Rap Songs”, but the atonement is on this broader list.  The one-two punch of J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar is nothing short of fire, period.

80

“Love Me”

Lil Wayne featuring Future Drake

From Album: I Am Not A Human Being II

“Love Me” may have been a shallow as everything else was on I Am Not A Human Being II, but at least it was enjoyably shallow.  “Long as my b*****s love me / I can give a f**k ‘bout no hater…”

 79

“Angel”

Depeche Mode

From album: Delta Machine

Sure, this track is titled “Angel”, but it surely must be representing a dark angel… Mysterious, chilling, and ‘bothered’, “Angel” finds Depeche Mode doing what they do best.

78

“Nosetalgia”

Pusha T featuring Kendrick Lamar

From album: My Name Is My Name

The rap IQ on “Nosetalgia” is off the charts, particularly with Kendrick Lamar collaborating with Pusha.   Pusha T proclaims himself the “Black Ferris Bueller, cutting school with his jewels on…what I sell for pain in the hood, I’m a doctor…” while Kendrick Lamar’s slaughtering verse is capped off with “Go figure mother f**ker, every verse is a brick.” True.

77

“Ain’t It Fun”

Paramore

From album: Paramore 

Ain’t It Fun” may be Paramore’s best track EVER.  Driven by a funky groove, the band goes ‘big’ with a gargantuan bass line, full-force punk-laden guitars, and gospel vocals.  ‘ain’t it fun’? – Definitely!

76

“Pop That”

French Montana featuring Rick Ross, Drake & Lil Wayne

From album: Excuse My French

The raunchiest track from French Montana’s debut album is the best.  It’s all about popping… and I’ll leave it at that!

Continue reading “The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Complete!”

The 100 Best Songs of 2013: Part 2 (#75 – 51)


Mac Miller-PFR-010521

After a year filled with numerous albums and even more songs, choosing 100 of the best is an incredibly difficult task.  Like with the best albums of 2013, there will be surprises as well as snubs.  Sometimes the snubs are oversights while at other items there are just so many notable songs that some just get lost in the mix.  Regardless, here are 100 songs I found to be notable in 2013.

75

“Cookie”

R. Kelly

From album: Black Panties

Oreos everywhere has been violated… enough said.

74

“Work B**ch”

Britney Spears

From album: Britney Jean

To Britney done told y’all – you better get to work! “Work B**ch” is the best song from a lackadaisical Britney Jean.

73

“Blow”

Beyoncé

From album: Beyoncé

Examine the entire song or even excerpted lyrics and you’ll understand why it graced this list:  “Can you lick my skittles / that’s the sweetest in the middle…” Couple that with R. Kelly’s “Cookie” and something is definitely going down in the bedroom…

72

“For The Rest of My Life”

Robin Thicke

From album: Blurred Lines

Well, at least Robin Thicke followed up “Blurred Lines” with a lovely ballad with some substance.  Still won’t get the skeptics off his back about “Blurred Lines” though, LOL.

71

“Porno”

Arcade Fire

From album: Reflektor

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddB1aW/

Front man Win Butler has a message for you young guys – don’t be so selfish about sex/endeavors when it comes to your girlfriend(s)!

70

“Winning Hand”

Bilal

From album: A Love Surreal

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjde8GzD/

The lyrics speak for them self:  “Baby, you’re a winning hand / a game change, I’m on the roll.”  I want a winning hand… Hehe.

69

“Here’s To Never Growing Up”

Avril Lavigne

From album: Avril Lavigne

In case you’re wondering, Avril hasn’t grown up any.  If anything, she’s prolonged her carefree youth with curse words.  Cheers to eternal youth!

68

“Love and War”

Tamar Braxton

From album: Love and War

Another instance where the lyrics speak for them self:  “We stay on the front lines / Yeah but we’re still here after the bomb drops / we go so hard we lose control / the fire starts then we explode / when the smoke clears we dry our tears / only in love and war.”

67

“The Way”

Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller

From album: Yours Truly

Basically, young Mariah is at work, and she gets the assist from Easy Mac.  Did I mention Grande sounds angelic?  And ole boy keeps it clean…no ‘birdcalls’.

66

“Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”

Arcade Fire

From album: Reflektor

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddB1YH/

A tragic story given Eurydice’s death and Orpheus’ infatuation with his late lover (Greek mythology),  “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” finds AF front man Win Butler singing “I know you can see / things that we can’t see / but when I say I love you / your silence covers me…” Ultimately, “Awful Sound” matches the ‘all over the map’ nature of its parent album.

65

“New Slaves”

Kanye West

From album: Yeezus

http://youtu.be/-SoKFycTmVU 

Ever controversial, Kanye West manages to resurrect the horrid past of African-Americans, particularly playing up past shortcomings and present stereotypes (“Y’all throwing contracts at me / y’all know that n***as can’t read…”). Even so, agile and edgy rhymes make “New Slaves” worthwhile.

64

“Trouble”

José James

From album: No Beginning, No End

Jazz and soul music create a beautiful union on the signature cut from José James’ superb album No Beginning, No End.

63

“Wild For The Night”

A$AP Rocky featuring Skrillex

From album: Long. Live. A$AP

A$AP is partying hard, and he’s bringing an unlikely buddy in Skrillex with him. What more can be said – clubs are bumping!

62

“Goosebumpz”

Mac Miller

From album: Watching Movies With The Sound Off

Based on some of Mac Miller’s lyrics, the goose bumps he be giving his girl are serious, cause when he dies he “bet she f**k my hologram…” He’s confident in his, err – he’s confident, we’ll leave it at that!

61

“I Need”

TGT

From album: Three Kings

This song has been my ringtone for minute, really! TGT absolutely slaughter the chorus: “Now I know / it ain’t ever worth your heart / and it ain’t ever worth your tears / and it ain’t ever worth those scars that might not heal / I need, I need, I need (you)…” Hey, us guys sometimes need that masculine R&B perspective, even when it’s sensitive!

60

“Where Are We Now?”

David Bowie

From album: The Next Day

Sometimes it is simplicity that carries a great deal of weight: “Where are we now, where are we now? The moment you know, you know, you know…” Bowie slays this ballad, no questions asked.

59

“You Lust”

The Flaming Lips

From album: The Terror

Three words:  “LUST TO SUCCED!”

58

“Holy Ghost”

Mavis Staples

From album: One True Vine

“Holy Ghost” – a cover from band Low – finds Staples commanding and soulful atop folksy production work.  While she’s reserved, Staples still packs a punch, particularly when her 74-year old voice cracks with expression.

57

“Don’t Swallow the Cap”

The National

From album: Trouble Will Find Me

The National’s “Don’t Swallow the Cap” shines, despite its pessimism (“…I have faith but don’t believe it / it’s not there enough to leave it…”). Sporting exceptional songwriting as well as a solid arrangement/production, characterized by keyboards, haunting strings, and pummeling drums, “Don’t Swallow the Cap” is arguably the valedictory track from Trouble Will Find Me.

56

“Take This Dirty Water”

Elton John

From album: The Diving Board

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddd4bU/

On brilliant track “Take This Dirty Water”, Elton John combines facets of gospel, blues, and rock.  Incredibly soulful and feel-good, “Take This Dirty Water” is easily one of Elton John’s most distinct and best songs in years.

55

“Bound 2”

Kanye West featuring Charlie Wilson

From album: Yeezus

“Bound 2” bucked the trend of most of Yeezus; it sounded more like West’s classic material with soulful sample intact.

54

“Strictly Reserved For You”

Charles Bradley

From album: Victim of Love

Every bit of Charles’ love – well, it’s “strictly reserved for you.” Aww, the feeling of feeling loved.

53

“Dope”

Lady Gaga

From album: ARTPOP 

Didn’t you know you’re worth more than a dime bag any day in Lady Gaga’s eyes? “I need you more than dope.”

52

Genius

R. Kelly

From album: Black Panties

When it comes to R. Kelly, well, everything seems to revolve around a three-letter word.  Here, the salacious 46-year old R&B singer/songwriter is a “sex genius”, supposedly.

51

“Cowboy”

Tyler, The Creator

From album: Wolf

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjdel3Ss/

As written previously, Tyler, The Creator is the “cowboy on [his] own trip”; he holds his own destiny. Be sure to check out the previously released first part with songs #100-76, as well as upcoming parts #50 – 26, and #25 – 1.

Related articles

25 Best R&B Albums of 2013


John Legend-20130621-53

It truly saddens me to see R&B, a personal favorite style of music, in a state of uncertainty.  2013 found the numbers of R&B down considerably, a trend that is consistent year in and year out. Save for a select few commercial bright spots (led by an unexpected Beyoncé album), R&B only dented the charts.   Even so, finding 25 albums with some significance wasn’t difficult to do.  Sure, some of the lowest ranked albums have their flaws, but each has some reason for being selected.  Enjoy! 

1

Janelle Monáe

The Electric Lady

Bad Boy

51q3xK+M7zL._SL500_AA280_In a world where R&B and soul music have cooled off considerably, one incredibly talented Janelle Monáe is still ‘on’ so to speak.  Monáe balances the retro with the contemporary and alternative like a champ on her brilliant The Electric Lady, my pick for the best R&B album of 2013. Simply put, this album kicks some serious… watch yo mouth!  Consistent, fresh, retro, and captivating, Monáe paves her own way and has it going on in a big way.  All hail “Q.U.E.E.N.” Janelle!

 

Recommended Spins:

“Givin’ ‘Em What They Love”; “Q.U.E.E.N.”; “Primetime”; “We Were Rock and Roll”; “Ghetto Woman”; “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” 

2

John Legend

Love in the Future

G.O.O.D. / Columbia

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend may take some risks on Love in the Future, but ultimately, his formula is the same as it always has been.  Love in The Future not only has the goods to challenge for the best R&B album of the year, but it also challenges Legend’s own discography as his best album yet.  With five years between solo albums, Legend sounds riper than ever on this top-notch work.  Rock on John!

Recommend Spins:

“In The Beginning”; “Made to Love”; “Who Do We Think We Are?” featuring Rick Ross; “All of Me”; “Stay The Night”; “Tomorrow”

3

Beyoncé

Beyoncé

Columbia

Digital Booklet - BEYONCÉBeyoncé shocked the world by keeping her fifth studio album Beyoncé a secret.  Her rollout wasn’t the only shock; the album itself is alluring because of its cutting edged approach.  No longer does Beyoncé show herself as a suggestive R&B diva – she’s now an unapologetic, fierce one unafraid to state her emotions or intentions.  At her most naughty, ‘Yoncé is at her best.

Recommended Spins:

“Pretty Hurts”; “Haunted”; “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay-Z; “Blow”; “Rocket”

4

Charles Bradley

Victim of Love

Daptone

Charles Bradley1-20131108-265-year old soul singer Charles Bradley represents for the retro-soul veterans atop these rankings.  Bradley isn’t nearly as ‘decorated’ as his colleagues of similar age because his ‘chance’ didn’t arrive until late in his life.  Regardless, Bradley does it like a pro, delivering a compelling, soulful tour de force on Victim of Love.  The young bucks can learn plenty from Bradley, who is on autopilot throughout the course of Victim of Love – no misses to speak of.

Recommended Spins:

“Strictly Reserved For You”; “Victim of Love”; “Confusion”

 

5

José James

No Beginning, No End

Blue Note

412OsY-eNgL._SL500_AA280_Distinctly voiced jazz/soul singer José James joins a list of incredibly underrated, super talented artists.  His Blue Note January release No Beginning, No End was nothing short of a critical smash, consistent through and through.  Sure James is refined like any jazz musician, but he also allows for his sensual, soulful side to shine on tracks like “It’s All Over My Body.”  His best moment, however, comes by way of instant jam “Trouble”.

Recommended Spins:

“It’s All Over My Body”; “Trouble”; “Vanguard”

6

Fantasia

Side Effects of You

RCA

51R6Qpg7HKL._SL500_AA280_Over the course of four albums, former American Idol winner continues to captivate vocally.  Sure, sometimes the material doesn’t always match up with her prodigious pipes, but more often than not, Fantasia makes up for it with her heart-wrenching, soulful vocals. Side Effects of You overall is well put together featuring some enjoyable songs showcasing ‘Tasia at her best.

Recommended Spins:

“Supernatural” featuring Big K.R.I.T.; “Ain’t All Bad”; “Without Me” featuring Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliott; “Change Your Mind”; “Lose To Win”; “End of Me”

7

Bilal

A Love Surreal

Entertainment One

518G2jOk81L._SL500_AA280_Bilal has been captivating alt-soul fans’ hearts years before Frank Ocean, Miguel, or The Weeknd came along.  He continues to shine on his fine A Love Surreal, where his vocals remain powerful and soulful. Eclectic and consistent, A Love Surreal is easily one of the year’s top R&B efforts.

Recommended Spins:

“Westside Girl”; “Back To Love”; “Winning Hand”; “Slipping Away”; “Butterfly”

8

Alice Smith

She

Rainwater

Alice Smith's She easily ranks among 2013's best albums.

Underrated and under-appreciated, Alice Smith is an exceptional artist by all means.  On She, Smith delivers magnificent vocals coupled with magnificent songwriting and production.  Among her most triumphant moments is a fierce cover of Cee-Lo Green’s “Fool For You”, which she makes her own.  A tight album with only 11 tracks and 36 minutes in duration, She is that exceptional album you definitely shouldn’t be sleeping on.

Recommended Spins:

“Cabaret”; “Another Love”; “Loyalty”; “Fool For You”; “Be Easy”

9

Jhene Aiko

Sail Out (EP)

Def Jam

51vWznSh56L._SL500_AA280_Don’t let Jhene Aiko’s chill delivery discourage you – the girl can pack a knockout punch without sweating once! Sail Out provides an excellent picture of what the singer’s full length will sound like, embracing elements of pop and alternative R&B.

Recommended Spins:

“The Vapors”; “Bed Peace”; “Stay Ready (What A Life)”; “Comfort Inn Ending (Freestyle)”

 

10

Chrisette Michele

Better

Def Jam

51v0nrvYiuL._SL500_AA280_Chrisette Michele just might be R&B’s most underrated female.  While commercial success has only been so-so for Michele, she’s been rock-solid where consistency is concerned.  Better is a sensational and eclectic R&B effort that shows Michele’s range as an artist.  Nothing is better here than promo single “A Couple of Forevers”, which was easily among the year’s best.

Recommended Spins:

“A Couple of Forevers”; “Let Me Win”;  “Love Won’t Leave Me Out”; “Visual Love”; “Charades”

11

Jaheim

Appreciation Day

Atlantic

51Fc7Pmf5aL._SL500_AA280_Jaheim has cleaned up his act since his excellent ‘Ghetto’ days, but don’t get it twisted, he’s still an edgy R&B singer.  Jaheim appreciates the female throughout, perhaps most specifically on “***** Appreciation”… gasp.  But he’s most impressive on his socially conscious turn on “Florida”, written about the Treyvon Martin controversy down south.

Recommended Spins:

“Age Ain’t A Factor”; “He Don’t Exist”;  “Morning”; “Baby X3”; “Sexting”; “Florida”

12

Raheem DeVaughn

A Place Called Loveland

Mass Appeal

61WNU5xS-EL._SL500_AA280_Raheem DeVaughn is one of the most underrated R&B artists, but he’s also one of the best and most consistent.  A Place Called Loveland may lack the flash to appeal to a new audience, but it is exceptionally put together.

Recommended Spins:

 “Love Connection”; “Wrong Forever”; “Complicated”; “Cry Baby”; “Make A Baby”; “Make Em Like You”

 

13

Ariana Grande

Yours Truly

Republic

41VAP7icdZL._SL500_AA280_Is she pop or R&B – that is the question? Not from my perspective, as Ariana Grande cements herself as Mariah Carey’s successor on her fine debut Yours Truly, which debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.  Quality from start to finish, Grande has a promising career ahead of her.

Recommended Spins:

“Honeymoon Avenue”; “Baby I”; “Right There”; “You’ll Never Know”; “The Way” featuring Mac Miller; “Almost is Never Enough” featuring Nathan Sykes

 

14

Mavis Staples

One True Vine

Anti

51fqkurDW+L._SL500_AA280_You could argue this album is ‘Americana’ as the Grammys suggest, but the Mavis Staples I know and love has gospel and soul roots.  Album One True Vine may be a genre bender, but Staples sounds incredibly compelling as a 74-year old.  “Age ain’t nothing but a number” Mavis.

Recommended Spins:

“Holy Ghost”; “Every Step”; “Can You Get To That”; “I Like The Things About Me”

 

15

K. Michelle

Rebellious Soul

Atlantic

51AjsEvsGwL._SL500_AA280_I’m not sure if its cool for guys to listen to K. Michele, but ole girl definitely keeps it real.  Early cuts like “Kiss My A$$” and “I Just Wanna” don’t even grace the set… If you are a woman scorned, K. Michele is who you should listen to for reassurance or a ‘pick me up’.  Brash but honest, K. Michele soulfully executes on her debut, Rebellious Soul.

Recommended Spins:

“Damn”; “Can’t Raise a Man”; “V.S.O.P.”; “Ride Out”; “When I Get A Man”

 

16

Robin Thicke

Blurred Lines

Interscope

91zMqP7d2NL._SL1500_For Robin Thicke, it was a career transformative year.  “Blurred Lines” was the gift single that kept giving (and perhaps taking), making the former neo-soul singer relevant within pop circles.  “Blurred Lines” wasn’t the only shining moment, as Thicke kept his silky, smooth pipes going strong on thoughtful ballad, “For The Rest Of My Life”.

Recommended Spins:

“Blurred Lines”; “Take It Easy On Me”;  “Give It 2 U”; “Feel Good”; “For The Rest of My Life”

17

TGT

Three Kings

Atlantic

51Y8U1sKI3L._SL500_AA280_Super groups are hard to come by these days.  TGT, comprised of Tyrese, Ginuwine, and Tank, three of R&B’s finest, come together to deliver one of the finest panty-dropping fests of the year.  Just imagine of Trey Songz had somehow made his way in and Three Kings would’ve totally been too hot to handle.

Recommended Spins:

“Sex Never Felt Better”; “I Need”; “Next Time Around”; “Explode”; “Running Back”; “Burn Out”

18

Mayer Hawthorne

Where Does This Door Go?

Republic

41bg0QHWBCL._SL500_AA280_Mayer Hawthorne’s album sadly drifted from the ranks of playlist glory on my iPod, but I couldn’t tell you why.  Where Does This Door Go certainly had its skeptics, but I wasn’t one of them.  Vocally, one of the hippest bespectacled white dudes can blow and does here.

Recommended Spins:

“Back Seat Lover”; “The Innocent”; “The Only One”; “Her Favorite Song”; “Reach Out Richard”

19

Ciara

Ciara

Epic

51TpXUESJhL._SL500_AA280_Even though Ciara received high marks on my end of things, I may have still underrated it.  Ciara doesn’t sport a powerful voice like some of her contemporaries, but it sits well contextually within her music.  Ciara is both sexy and enjoyable.

Recommended:

“Sophomore”; “Body Party”; “Keep On Lookin’”; “Super Turnt Up”

 

20

Kelly Rowland

Talk A Good Game

Republic

8121kg2H5XL._SL1500_Kelly Rowland has been consistently patterning herself as a more risqué alternative to her ‘sister’ Beyoncé (well until Beyoncé itself shocked the world).   Talk A Good Game comes full circle, intact with parental advisory label to match.   It doesn’t supersede the exceptional Here I Am, but it definitely has some shining moments.

Recommended Spins:

“Kisses Down Low”; “Down on Love”; “Dirty Laundry”; “Red Wine”

 

21

Joe

Doubleback: Evolution of R&B

Massenberg Media

6160ddGP8hL._SL500_AA280_After several albums lacking the quality of his best, Joe returns with a throwback (“doubleback”) R&B album that finds him flexing his sensual muscles like a G.

Recommended Spins:

“Something For You”; “Easy”; “I’d Rather Have A Love”; “Love & Sex” featuring Fantasia; “More”

22

Tamar Braxton

Love and War

Epic 

51WHDUdSVlL._SL500_AA280_Tamar Braxton makes this list because of the significance of her accomplishments with Love and War.  The album has some shining moments, but doesn’t lack flaws.  Even so, Braxton has an exceptional voice and when she’s fully invested with superb material to perform, it’s pure fire.

Recommended Spins:

“The One”; “Stay and Fight”; “Love and War”; “One On One Fun”; “Where It Hurts”; “Prettiest Girl”

 

23

Teena Marie

Beautiful

Ume

51qA7widqQL._SL500_AA280_Teena Marie passed on in 2010, but she left a stunning final studio album in Beautiful, which is just that.  Beautiful is Teena Marie at her very best – soulful, sensual, and brilliant.

Recommended Spins:

“Luv Letter”; “Sweet Tooth”; “Love Starved”; “Definition of Down”; “Beautiful”; “The Long Play”

 

24

Aaron Neville

True Story

Blue Note

51FcjEZV-6L._SL500_AA280_My True Story isn’t a flashy album, but it is a fine retro-soul effort that covers classics from the early era of R&B, the 1950s and 60s.  Neville may be long past his prime, but vocally the 72-year old still got it.  Bow down!

Recommended Spins:

“My True Story”; “Ting A Ling”; “Under The Boardwalk”

25

R. Kelly

Black Panties

RCA

51l9Oz9KgnLMaybe it’s a stretch to include Black Panties on this list, but part of the reason for its inclusion is because Kelly returns to his true self – edgy, sensual, and just plumb freaky.  Sure he overdoes it and seems to think sex supplants sexiness, but there’s some pieces there.  Oreos are still tasty…

Recommended Spins:

“Legs Shakin’” featuring Ludacris; “Cookie”; “Genius”; “All The Way” featuring Kelly Rowland

‘Way Too Early’ 56th Annual Grammy Winner Predictions


So the Grammy nominations just came out, and guess who is already putting his two cents in about who’s gonna win? This guy is! Yep it is technically ‘way too early’, but who cares? How about some December predictions for what’s gonna go down in January?

The Big Four

Record of the Year

41FJb1q2VyL._SL500_AA280_“Get Lucky”, Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams

“Radioactive”, Imagine Dragons

“Royals”, Lorde

“Locked Out of Heaven”, Bruno Mars

“Blurred Lines”, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell

This is one of the most competitive categories, period.   All five of these are worthy records, which isn’t always true.  If one feels like it’s out of place, it is Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”, mostly because it is the ‘oldest’ of the bunch.

Both “Blurred Lines” and “Royals” are deserving of love based on their impact, but just because you ruled the Hot 100 certainly doesn’t equate to a Grammy.  If one of these two wins, I’d give the edge to Lorde, who doesn’t have various controversies on her back.  Still, rock would get a huge recognition if Imagine Dragons’ mammoth hit “Radioactive” was awarded here.  Still, doesn’t Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” seem unavoidable here, particularly if the duo is victorious in the Album of the Year category?

Way Too Early Pick:

Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams, “Get Lucky

Album of the Year

41FJb1q2VyL._SL500_AA280_The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar

The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Red, Taylor Swift

I’m not even going to curb my biases – I’m rooting for Kendrick Lamar’s rap opus Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.   But I won’t even begin to act like it has a shot after hip-hop has been avoided like a plague in this coveted category; its only been a decade since OutKast’s undeniable masterpiece Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was awarded AOTY.  But Kendrick also has killer competition within his own genre with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ breakthrough The Heist, which is certainly considered more ‘friendly’ hip-hop.  I think both cancel each other out, which leaves Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk.  As good as Red is, Taylor Swift has already won for her career-breakthrough, Fearless.  Sara Bareilles’ inclusion over bigger pop albums is shocking, but never count out the surprise nominee… sometimes that’s the album that wins.  Personally, I think Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the frontrunner.

Way Too Early Pick:

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

Song of the Year

41XAtgtU1xL._SL500_AA280_“Just Give Me The Reason” (Pink featuring Nate Ruess)

“Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars)

“Roar” (Katy Perry)

“Royals” (Lorde)

“Same Love” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert)

Another big-time category, my goodness! All of the nominees here should be jumping for joy that “Get Lucky” wasn’t nominated in this category.  Again, I’m going to eliminate “Locked Out Of Heaven”, no matter how good it is; I don’t think it’s Bruno’s year.  While I love Pink and approved of “Just Give Me The Reason” (with Nate Ruess of fun.), I’m not sure the no. 1 hit is the best song of the year.  If the voters want to go bold (and political), they vote for the fine “Same Love”, courtesy of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert.  If they don’t, they’re left with the inspirational breakthrough “Roar” and the ubiquitous “Royals”.   If Katy Perry was ever to win a Grammy, “Royals” would be the perfect song.  However, that “Royals” is one unique song contrasting its fellow nominees.

Way Too Early Pick

“Royals” (Lorde)

Best New Artist

51BomNkKT2LJames Blake

Kendrick Lamar

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Kacey Musgraves

Ed Sheeran

Another category where I’m biased to one artist – Kendrick Lamar!  Again though, Lamar is up against heavyweights Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.  Kacey Musgraves unapologetic brand of country is notable from what I heard, but I’m not sure she outpaces the huge hip-hop nominees.  Ed Sheeran feels either a year late or a year early, depending on your perspective, but could certainly play spoils.  James Blake’s nod is a ‘trap’ for the hip-hop favorites, amplified by his Mercury Prize victory for superb sophomore album OvergrownI’m truly torn here, so I’ll go with who I think is most deserving, even if it doesn’t come to pass.

Way Too Early Pick

 Kendrick Lamar

Continue reading “‘Way Too Early’ 56th Annual Grammy Winner Predictions”

Playlist: A ‘Relationship’ Soundtrack for 2013 (Or Something Like That)


Love songs can be so touching and certainly can propel any relationship (and in some cases hookups…).  I have constructed a list of 12 ‘love’ songs that have the emotional and physical connection between lovers in mind… or something like that!  I attempted to make some narrative, but like most soundtracks, they’re all over the place anyways!

Track 1

61WNU5xS-EL._SL500_AA280_Raheem DeVaughn, “Complicated”

(A Place Called Love Land)

As we know, no one relationship is ‘cut and dry’ by any means; all are their own diverse entity.  Among Raheem DeVaughn’s best tracks on his underrated indie-R&B album A Place Called Love Land (“Complicated”), DeVaughn claims to be“… kinda single, but I’m in love / it’s complicated because, because…can’t say we’re dating / I can’t explain it, it’s complicated.” Do relationships even need labels anymore?

#CommitmentIssues  #QuasiRelationship

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddQWUs/

Track 2

51FYy9s6GlL._SY300_Ronald Isley, “Dinner and a Movie”

(This Song Is For You)  

So, being a guy, we have to get the balls to show our vulnerable and sensitive side and ask that girl we’re digging on out.  Easier said than done right for us shy ones right? Well basically, Raheem DeVaughn stated how “Complicated” things are, evidenced by an unlabeled bond somewhere between friendship and a relationship.  Why not seal the deal with some Mr. Biggs.  He’s certainly not shy, but his way of sharing his feelings and taking things to the next level is pretty simple, old school, and effective: “Hello, hello / girl what’s your name? / I was thinking maybe we do dinner and a movie / girl don’t say no if you feel the same / I was thinking maybe we do dinner and a movie.” #FirstDate

Track 3

41o5xUIKO+L._SL500_AA280_John Legend, “Made to Love”

(Love in the Future)

John Legend also keeps it relatively simple, yet definitely flattering.  “I was sent here for you / we were made to love / we were made to love / you were sent for me too / we were made to love / we were made to love”.  Read into how far the love goes and whether it transcends ‘puppy dog’ status or is both an emotionally and physically cohesive union.  Seems to be ‘the real deal’, judging by the fact ole boy refers to her as an “extraordinary machine…” in verse one.

#Smitten 

Tracks 4 & 5

51Fc7Pmf5aL._SL500_AA280_Jaheim, “Morning” and “P**** Appreciation Day”

(Appreciation Day)

Basically, Jaheim just continues where John Legend leaves off – or didn’t dare to go (which ever comes first). After truly being “made to love”, Jaheim isn’t worry about those meaningless details such as “What’s your name, never mind, tell me all about it in the (morning)…” on “Morning”.  No, he just wants some… really bad: “Girl can you hang? / take your time, go slow, make love to the middle of the (morning) / I know you’re wondering if I’m the type to quick heat the sheets and get you out by the (morning)…”  If that wasn’t evidence enough, he spends a whole song describing the ‘object’ of his pleasures without ever overtly stating what it is (“So warm it’s, so soft, it’s so tight, it’s the greatest / so I laid in it, played in it / stayed there ‘til daybreak…”).   #HookUp

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddTweQ/

Track 6

51WHDUdSVlL._SL500_AA280_Tamar Braxton, “Love and War

(Love and War)

Elliott Yamin may have said it best when he stated that “some people fight for love…” However, Toni Braxton’s baby sister delivers the sentiment of the fight to preserve the flame in dramatic fashion that never wanes.  “We stay on the front lines / yeah but we’re still here after the bomb drops / we go so hard we lose control / the fire starts then we explode / when the smoke clears we dry our tears / only in love and war…” Course, wasn’t it Mary J. Blige that sang about such a love as this in the 90s (“Real Love”)? Oh and Braxton also wants to “stay and fight with you…” on you guessed it, “Stay and Fight”.  #TilDeathDoUsPart

Tracks 7 & 8

61yONCH4jQLJustin Timberlake, “Pusher Lover Girl” and “That Girl” 

(The 20/20 Experience

It is safe to say that Justin Timberlake loves to sing about girls… but then again, how many males can you find that don’t? Though to be accurate, I think he’s eschewed all girls in favor of one.  On his first album of 2013 (The 20/20 Experience), Timberlake manages to call his girl (likely named Jessica Biel wouldn’t you say) his “drug…” urging her to “…go on and be my dealer baby” and further confirming his commitment simply by stating “I’m in love with that girl / and she told me, she’s in love with me…” Guys, how exactly does this support your relationship or potential relationships? It seems to be all about devotion and JT’s got that, whether you consider it corny or full of swagger.  #UrTheOnlyOneIWant

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjde6DhZ/

Track 9

71m3q5MbpvL._SL1425_Bilal, “Winning Hand” 

(A Love Surreal)

Fellas looking to make a change – like a game change? Bilal’s “Winning Hand” is “just what the doctor ordered.” Basically, Bilal proclaims “Baby you’re a winning hand / a game change, I’m on the roll / hit me again, dealer hit me again / yeah we’re winning again, I’m on the roll.” Yep. Tell her how special and how much she means to you and compare her to gambling and rolling the dice and that should do the trick… ha ha. I guess it works for Bilal (“Yeah I got an ace, damn she’s a queen / she feels like a winning hand to me…”).  #BestHandOfCardsEverrr

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjde8GzD/

Track 10

51q3xK+M7zL._SL500_AA280_Janelle featuring Miguel, “Primetime” 

(The Electric Lady

Basically, “It’s a primetime, for our love”.  I agree, regardless of my continual eligible bachelor status, haha.  But for two new, young lovers, this duet is perfect fuel for the burgeoning relationship.  This would be perfect for the bedroom; it’s got that ‘vibe’. Just sayin’!

#MotivationForMakingLove

Track 11

41sfgC3cRPL._SL500_AA280_Marsha Ambrosius featuring Ne-Yo, “Without You”

(Without You – Single

“Looking in the mirror / I’m all in my feelings / got me f–ked up out her / without you / Yeah you can call me crazy / f–k it I’m demented / I’m out of my head in this bead / without you / I can’t go long without you babe.”  Love’ll do  just what Marsha sang on the chorus.  She’s infatuated, he gone, and she’s to’ up from the flo’ up.  It’s kind of a turn on, right?

#MessedUpWithoutMyBoo 

Track 12

91zMqP7d2NL._SL1500_Robin Thicke, “For The Rest of My Life” 

(Blurred Lines)

As hard as it may be to believe, “Blurred Lines” wasn’t the sole gem from Robin Thicke’s album of the same title.  “For The Rest of My Life” has much more substance than its addictive, 70s-soul favoring brother.  Here, Thicke definitely more chivalrous here: “For the rest of my life you know I wanna be yours…” What better way to close any soundtrack than a sincere, gentlemanlike statement that is “For the Rest of My Life”.  After all, Thicke has come a long, long way: “…You’d have nothing to do with me baby / thank God that you changed your mind.”

#DedicatedToTheOneILove

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddXift/

Playlist: September 2013 Jams To Lead Into October


Drake-AES-089760

It’s that time… for me to list songs that made me🙂 over the past month.  14 of ‘em baby, get ready!

Katy Perry,”Roar” 

PRISM

Katy Perry-20130618-80You knew it would take some mega force to unseat Robin Thicke from the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 with the ubiquitous smash “Blurred Lines”.  That force came via everyone’s favorite pop star Katy Perry, who shocked with her maturity on “Roar”.  Sure, Ms. Perry had a lot of fun in her jungle music video to accompany her number one single, but she goes all inspirational on us as opposed to, um, risqué.  I wasn’t one hundred percent onboard at first, but it certainly tickled my fancy after a while.

2 Chainz featuring Fergie, “Netflix”

B.O.A.T.S.II:#METIME

2 Chainz-ZNV-000958I wouldn’t call 2 Chainz the most intellectually-stimulating rapper – he goes dumb (and sometimes dumb-er) with the best.  Throw in the queen of silliness in Fergie and the resulting cut “Netflix” should be a total bust.  Instead, it is one of 2 Chainz’s most triumphant moments from B.O.A.T.S.II:#METIME, which also turns out to be a much better album than it should be.  The best line from my perspective? “Let’s make a sex tape and put it on Netflix”.  SMH.

John Legend, “All Of Me”

Love In The Future 

John Legend-20130621-53There may never be another John Legend number as touching as his acclaimed, stripped ballad “Ordinary People” was, but “All of Me” seems to be the closest Legend has came to that Grammy-winning classic.  Simplistic sporting a certain innocence about it, part of the appeal of ballad is its sheltered, chivalrous genuineness.

Tamar Braxton, “Love and War”

Love and War

1174751_634685723230300_847700807_nYeah, I know, I know.  “Love and War” has been out for a minute… but it is still arguably the best track on Braxton’s sophomore effort.  Sure, the album was kinda so-so at best, but “Love and War” would easily rise to the top of most track lists.  Soulful, old-school yet contemporary enough, it’s no surprise that the ‘battling through love’ track helped propel Braxton to number two on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.

Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

BANGERZ

Miley Cyrus25-20130917-26A Miley Cyrus song on a Brent Faulkner playlist? Something must be wrong! It’s not, if you can believe it.  For as much controversy as Miley Cyrus has successfully stirred up around her hyper-sexual makeover for upcoming studio album BANGERZ, “Wrecking Ball” the song is actually pretty impressive.  Honestly, I was onboard from the first time I saw the video, even if I found the video itself to be…um… yeah I can’t think of the word.  As for the song and the concept of the song, I’ll give it to ole girl.  I’m still no fan though…

Janelle Monáe featuring Prince, “Givin’ ‘Em What They Love

The Electric Lady

Janelle Monae-ZNV-001038Q.U.E.E.N.” one killer jam by all means, but Monáe’s promo single has been receiving buzz for a minute.  More surprising and equally alluring is her collaboration with Prince, who definitely doesn’t lend his pipes or skills to many…  The results, specifically the vocal chemistry between two left-of-center artists is nothing short of brilliant – pretty fly from my perspective.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddduZp/

Drake featuring Detail, “305 To My City

Nothing Was The Same

Drake-SIN-000189Is it just me, or is every Drake album stacked? Nothing Was The Same has a hard act to follow compared to either Thank Me Later or Take Care, but there is still plenty of notable numbers from rap’s softest heavyweight.  “305 To My City” benefits from it moodiness, grinding tempo, and honestly its ‘Drake-isms’.  Hard choice between this one, “Tuscan Leather”, “Wu-Tang Forever”, or contemporary R&B number “Hold On We’re Going Home”.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddf_qT/

Ariana Grande featuring Nathan Sykes, “Almost Is Never Enough”

Yours Truly

Ariana Grande-MSA-011914I’m not one who is into boyfriend/girlfriend duets nor big youthful pop/urban duets.  However, every now and again, one comes around that works splendidly.  Remember a little hit called “No Air”? Exactly. Sure there is no comparison of Ariana Grande’s fine duet with The Wanted boyfriend Nathan Sykes to the gargantuan Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown duet, but it is so much better than it sounds on paper.  Vocally, the chemistry is undeniable, the maturity transcendent of both stars’ age, and the songwriting ‘tried-and-true’ yet relatable.  Yeah, “The Way” and “Baby I” might garner more attention, but “Almost Is Never Enough” is a definite sleeper.

Raheem DeVaughn, “Complicated

A Place Called Love Land

Raheem DeVaughn-PFR-009779Love is a complicated thing.  Just imagine how complicated and complex it is in the context of A  Place Called Love Land, Raheem’s DeVaughn’s slept on, exceptional fourth studio album? Basically the premise of this soulful standout is that DeVaughn is in a relationship (or something like it), but doesn’t want to label it.  Therefore even if ole boy is “…kinda single” but also in love, it truly is complicated.  Nothing complicated or questionable about the strength of this number though.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddQWUs/

Kings of Leon, “Wait For Me

Mechanical Bull

Kings-of-Leon-bh09Mechanical Bull was a fine new effort from Kings of Leon overall.  Sure, I was looking for another “Sex on Fire”, but maybe the lovin’ has leveled off.  Regardless, “Wait For Me” is a brilliant showing offering multiple interpretations (though likely referencing Caleb Followill’s demons) while ultimately delivering a plea of ‘waiting’ for the ‘lost’ to clean up his act.  It’s that sort of situation where one went on the wrong pathway and is now back on the straight and narrow.

Jaheim, “Florida

Appreciation Day

1001626_191194147710313_1819334795_nOn his underrated sixth album Appreciation Day,  Jaheim spends a good chunk of time discussing the opposite sex, particularly on the incredibly sensual title track.  However, he breaks away from the female anatomy on the brilliant, socially conscious “Florida”, which details the infamous Trayvon Martin case.  One of the most ‘trill’ songs I have heard in sometime, “Florida” strikes a soulful, chilling chord from an initial listen.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddTwbZ/

Stalley, “Coupes & Roses”

Self Made 3

81Zuo+7lWuL._SL1425_Maybach Music Group’s third compilation wasn’t exactly charm.  Self Made 3 seemed to lack the same spark as the 2012 compilation which was loaded with the likes of “Power Circle” and “Bury Me A G”.  Still, Stalley’s “Coupes & Roses” is a standout that blends luxurious sounds, old-school, and swagger a la 2013 into a winning formula.  All bow to rap’s ‘next’.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjdddM7C/

The Weeknd, “Belong To The World”

Kiss Land

The Weeknd4-20130729-217I’ll be the first to criticize The Weeknd’s follow-up to mixtape compilation TrilogyKiss Land feels pretty blasé for the most part, but this overproduced number has its moments.  Particularly, its lyrics are quite alluring: “Ooh girl,  I know I should leave you / and learn to mistreat you / cause you belong to the world / and ooh girl, I want to embrace you / domesticate you / but you belong to the world.”  Who would’ve thought a song alluding to a stripper Abel Tesfaye wants to ‘domesticate’ could be fascinating?

MGMT, “Alien Days”

MGMT

MGMT-music-f04You wouldn’t be making an generalization if you said that MGMT’s music is getting weirder and spacier.  “Alien Days” is certainly and opener that requires more than one listen to truly digest and understand what’s going through the band’s head.  Opening with a child’s voice that eventually is taken of very VanWynegarden’s trippy, nonchalant voice,  MGMT is characteristic of the band while continue to stretch (perhaps overstretch) the boundaries.  I think it is  quite possible to get high of the cut without even smoking.

http://rd.io/x/QUKSLjddd0Dl/