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Ciara in her natural habitat

Okay, so is it just me or is R&B getting, like, too good lately? 2011 saw The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Drake and others, but those were the “cool” artists who were primed, in a way, to release some deliciously trendy beats and hooks with the latest producer close behind them. But look at 2012: Miguel, always a fantastic singer but never a captivating artist, had both the catchiest single and corresponding album in “Adorn” and Kaleidoscope Dream, respectively. Then there’s Jeremih, the dude who wrote, uh, “Birthday Sex”–he showed up with his Late Nights mixtape, a mainstay in the car-playlist rotation for those lucky enough to have sought it out on Datpiff.

Now we have Ciara, of all people, releasing the jam of at least the first quarter of the year. I don’t even really know who Ciara is–I had to YouTube “1, 2 Step” to remember its melody–but this has to be the last straw. Produced by Mike Will Made It (who also took the reins on Jeremih’s similarly awesome “773 Love”), “Body Party” is so convincingly sexy and catchy and lush that I’m pretty sure all R&B artists are forming a cabal and want to demobilize me with an onslaught of jams or something like that (also: that new Justin Timberlake album). It’s a conspiracy, guys. But what a sexy conspiracy it is.

Listen to it here:





joshuatree
03.13.13
this song is so good. mike will made it is seriously such a good producer, his stuff for future is incredible

r&b has always been good tho. nothing more annoying than someone discovering that ciara has good songs via a pfork blurb and then stating that r&b is suddenly getting better as a whole. i guess this blog is probably facetious but whatever

robertsona
03.13.13
r&b has always been good, obviously, but it really does seem like everyone has been pitching in at an incredibly high rate starting like two years ago. i guess that's the "hip"-ization of r&b for you but idk

there have always been good/bad artists/albums but it seems like everyone from the tastemakers to the people who used to be lame are suddenly super attuned to this expertly produced and written kind of stuff. i obviously havent been around for that long but it seems only recently that you can look high and low and everyone is producing near-masterpieces

i can see ur point tho

Trebor.
03.13.13
Isn't she the one with the music videos everyone use to watch on mute?

robertsona
03.13.13
i feel like she was the target of some hermaphrodite rumors or something maybe not tho

Calc
03.13.13
^^^she was.

klap
03.13.13
nice layout alex *pukes*

robertsona
03.13.13
also as a random aside i would honestly say the same, though to a different extent, about rap music

obviously there's so much of it that generalizations are hard to make but that's pretty immobilizing; regardless, i would say that in the last few years rap has honestly just gotten -better- than it was in like the late two thousands. w/e tho

theacademy
03.13.13
god i love ciara

joshuatree
03.13.13
yeah i definitely think r&b is becoming popular among people who like 5 years ago wouldn't have bothered listening to it at all (i know i've only really started delving into the genre in the past 2/3 years i think). idk if i agree that people are especially attuned into this greater realization of how to create an incredible r&b song tho

at the same time there have been some simply amazing r&b-related stuff that has came out this decade so idk

robertsona
03.13.13
yeah i guess maybe more than better my point is that it all seems...cohesive? obviously not everyone is attuned to the same aesthetic but it really does seem like a New R&B is being cleaved out by artists of all kinds. the "cabal" thing was a joke obv but in a way almost serious. i can sort of imagine a bunch of R&B artists today getting together in a room a la les six or those french salons or w/e and collectively dishing out this stuff whereas it used to seem at least a little more fractured. which is probably a self-perpetuating cycle--pitchfork keeps approving new r&b albums and tracks, artists keep trying to reach that goal of pitchfork-approval, and so forth

or whatever fuck u u made me all nervous about something completely harmless

joshuatree
03.13.13
i mean now you're just making some incredibly baseless generalizations off of what things 'seem' to you

robertsona
03.13.13
well how else am i gonna make sense of this ish

i mean you agreed that there's been a popularization of r&b among a certain, big crowd; is it so ridiculous to claim that that's given rise a new, unified--not COMPLETELY unified, i know that--aesthetic in r&b that might appeal more to lame hippies like me (= "getting better")?

robertsona
03.13.13
i.e. if someone writes a book on r&b like so many have done on hip-hop and its various demarcations--the rise of the west coast, the golden age, the south, w/e--i certainly hope the chapter on the turn of this decade won't be "a bunch of people did things and some of them were good" to appease a guy who wants to let everyone know he's really above that whole pitchfork shindig

joshuatree
03.13.13
honestly just think that certain publications are hyping up r&b more due to certain indie artists repeatedly stating r&b artists as influences and so now you and people like you are listening to a lot more r&b. if certain publications were doing this a few years ago then you'd been all about whatever was going on a few years ago

robertsona
03.13.13
oh come on you cant throw the word "baseless" around and then drop literally the definition of an unfalsifiable claim

its ok, i listen to jodeci or whatever too

klap
03.13.13
hrm stupid wordpress why is it centered in the box but not in the blog

robertsona
03.13.13
i would not know, i am not skilled enough to find new music in a vacuum, resisting all external forces of Hip

joshuatree
03.13.13
i mean what else am i supposed to do. you think that there's a bunch of r&b producers coming together to create music for pfork and people that read pfork or that specifically appeals to those kinds of people. and i don't think that at all. i think that pfork's just repping r&b songs that were made the same way they've always been made. thus these people are discovering r&b through the stuff these people are repping. i think these songs are good but they're not *better* than like other stuff pfork has not repped in the past. they're just being made visible. this is my opinion of course.

but maybe you're right about r&b producers theoretically sitting in a room forging this New r&b. then you're right that's fine. bring on this New r&b and only listen to that and that's totally cool. i'm not saying listen to a bunch of corny ass shit like whatever or even listen to anything older. just don't say something is better bc it has your attention unlike other stuff that did not. this is my point i think

joshuatree
03.13.13
just don't use the word "better" it causes me to type a lot and no one wants that

fromtheinside
03.13.13
don't dig all those attacks at my girl because ciara is truly a class above most, but i knew she'd alway realize her potential. song is exceptional. nicely done alex, even if you are the biggest misanthrope i've ever known

robertsona
03.13.13
"you think that there's a bunch of r&b producers coming together to create music for pfork and people that read pfork or that specifically appeals to those kinds of people."

whaaat, this seems like a denial of all that makes sense in the music industry. the type of stuff pitchfork is repping right now is popular, partly because pitchfork is repping it, partly because of other reasons i don't know, but it's popular and when things are popular more artists do them. the weeknd didn't necessarily invent a certain type of r&b but this and last year there are way more people doing weeknd-ish stuff than there were in the late 2000s or whatever because that's how, like, this thing works. the idea--and i simplified it in my post--isn't necessarily that people are "making music for pitchfork" but that pitchfork has helped create a pretty cohesive, pretty specifically This-Decade type of r&b. i don't know how to qualify "r&b songs that were made the same way they've always been made" but that doesn't seem true. Trends happen

"just don't say something is better bc it has your attention unlike other stuff that did not."

oh come on, you can't disarm me like that. this sounds like i'm not allowed to make judgments like "wow rap is really good this year" or "country seems really to have branched out in the past five years" because i haven't heard every album that may have prefigured such other albums off which i am making a judgment. that's how we make sense of music, is by generalizing. the late 2000s was a good time for r&b and produced a lot of good albums/artists. right now, though, in my opinion, it is producing better and better albums and artists at a faster rate. if i am rendered unable to make such a judgment because i have not listened to "enough" (? is this your contention) albums from each era to make a judgment, i'm not sure how i can talk about music at all. one thing i can say for sure is not a result of my own biases: r&b is definitely not the same as it's ever been. it is not static.--and right now, in my opinion, it is better than it's ever been (since the mid-'90s or so at least)

i dont even know what i just wrote

robertsona
03.13.13
altho 4 the record there doesnt even need to be a cohesive theme to a certain era/year's music for it to be better than a previous one

it just needs to be, like, better

robertsona
03.13.13
i think its the best its been in at least a decade idk but after all this i -am- starting to feel a little silly grouping whole years and decades together

the early 00s were good times for all tho

robertsona
03.13.13
I actually totally forgot about Usher

If "Climax" isn't proof if R&B's ascendancy I don't know what is

robertsona
03.13.13
I would just like to say that my phone corrected that to "ascendance" and I know words

fromtheinside
03.13.13
ok so ciara is r&b now?

damn the genre has fallen

fromtheinside
03.13.13
climax is ushers best track in YEARS

robertsona
03.13.13
From "ascendance"* goddammit I'm done

robertsona
03.13.13
"climax is ushers best track in YEARS"

Also yes, and I guess my ultimate point is that he didn't create that in a vacuum but rather that song was the result of some specific and new and SPECIFICALLY NEW trends and forces in today's music scene and those forces/trends produced an awesome song in "Climax" and similarly have been producing a whole bunch of new artists or old artists taking new directions and these have all appealed to me moreso than R&B has in the last decade or so even though I have not extensively surveyed R&B from every year '03 to now but regardless to me R&B is, indeed, "getting better"

robertsona
03.13.13
And also because I heart pitchfork

robertsona
03.13.13
Also to finish off this delicious sandwich of a triple post I take back basically everything I said that was not that stuff right up there because I think my argument took a few too many detours and I sorta just started typing stuff. I love you all

fromtheinside
03.13.13
unfortunately we all thought usher flame would never fade because of confessions. but i think usher proves how fast we can forgive and forget pop&b

joshuatree
03.13.13
first off that response was long and made me scroll a lot so fuck u

in response to the first paragraph, i don't think that there is a cohesive theme in r&b right now. yes drake and the weeknd have a certain aesthetic that people are biting (although there are only like a couple of songs in take care that really commiserate as much as a weeknd song does but yeah. i get this.). but besides drake and the weeknd the people biting this aesthetic aren't really getting a lot of attention i don't think? and there's not a lot connecting frank ocean and miguel and the-dream and htdw and jessie ware and autre ne veut (and i know the last three stick out and that's another discussion) besides that they are r&b artists and are pfork-approved

second paragraph: i mean like you have to agree that these kind of statements are just kinda like generalizing the whole thing right? everyone (including myself) has these kind of opinions tho. and i understand this is a blog post but i don't think you can't discuss music without thinking first that you may not know everything there is about music

robertsona
03.13.13
" and i understand this is a blog post but i don't think you can't discuss music without thinking first that you may not know everything there is about music"

Well obviously I agree, but then how far am I limited? Apparently we've established that saying "R&B is getting better" is too far -- where is the line drawn?

joshuatree
03.13.13
that was to the long post since you posted a bunch of other stuff i keep getting distracted by other things to finish my posts i'm too slow

toxin.
03.13.13
LET ME SEE YOU 1, 2 STEP

fromtheinside
03.13.13
damn can usher and JT even be fairly compared?


no

joshuatree
03.13.13
i'm not sure if this is what you mean but i don't think you can say in reviews that new r&b is better than older r&b. i think you can say that it (new r&b) is changing (bc it is) and that these changes are exciting and you personally like the places that these changing are taking new r&b, but i don't think you can just call new r&b better. i think generalizing whole genres like that is too vague

and i'm sure i have old reviews that violate this but lets ignore those

robertsona
03.13.13
" i think you can say that it (new r&b) is changing (bc it is) and that these changes are exciting and you personally like the places that these changing are taking new r&b, but i don't think you can just call new r&b better."

Eghhh this seems more like lame equivocation than anything

Like 'r&b is changing and I like these changes and they are producing music that appeals to me on a scale I haven't seen in the genre before these changes happened' (does that all check out to you?) seems to me categorically correct but also just sorta shying away from the word 'better' because it--maybe rightfully--sounds icky. But idk I guess I diverge in thinking that, just as you can have a favorite year of hip hop or even a favorite era or style despite not listening to every album or artist inside or outside that style/era/year, you can personally think R&B is on the up and up. Idk. Just seems ok to me

fromtheinside
03.13.13
except
no,
i am a firm believer than genres should and do not change. they simply adapt.
r&b is not ciara. in fact its more JT than this.
r&b has never died tho alex.

oltnabrick
03.13.13
R&B will never die, but you will

joshuatree
03.13.13
idk i really think that saying something as broad as a genre of music is getting better is more due to internal factors in your own life that you're living at the same time that this genre of music is getting better. maybe i'm wrong but that's what i think. more importantly, i think saying something like that in a review disregards or excludes a lot of people from seriously considering your opinion. and i think as a critic you shouldn't be that exclusive or else people aren't gonna care. i think kinda stating where you're coming from isn't as exclusive because it suggests you critically thought about how you think r&b is way better compared to the breadth of other r&b, and i think that it's harder to be dismissed that way

i mean you can personally think that obviously. i just don't think you can say something like that in a review

fromtheinside
03.13.13
sisqo? he doesn't drop beats at all tho?
for like 20 years

toxin.
03.13.13
wait people don't just say what they think in a review
damn i've been doing it wrong

DamnVanne
03.14.13
That video where she is rolling around in black oil is one of the hottest of ever ever ever.

Electric City
03.14.13
THIS. BEAT. IS.

Strider
03.14.13
Ciara has always been my boo, I'll check this out ASAP

Strider
03.14.13
Well... I still love her

stopbanningchamberd
03.18.13
i would not know, i am not skilled enough to find new music in a vacuum, resisting all external forces of Hip



comments like these are why a lot of ppl hate you robertsonaona

Keyblade
03.18.13
rnb, the hipster's current genre of choice

Lucid
03.18.13
this song is so amazing

HolidayKirk
03.21.13
Too bad Ciara is chart poison.

gabethepiratesquid
03.23.13
this song is too good
but Ciara probably won't make any big rises because this song was written by FEWCHA, who's blowin up

BallsToTheWall
03.23.13
Too rich for my blood.

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