Best RnB Albums of 2010

Two of my favorite albums this year have been RnB records. Although they share a genre, they are just about as different as you can get.  One album is something most of my friends would expect me to like.  The other album completely baffles all of my friends.  They can’t believe I like it.  I can’t either!

At one time I used to actually care what other people thought of what I listened to.  Luckily with as I grew older I realized I don’t care.  While commercial pop records would have me scoffing in cynicism in high school, now I can appreciate it for what it is.  Basically now I just listen to whatever sounds good to me.

So without further ado here are my two favourite RnB albums of 2010 (so far..)

What People Expect me To Like: Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid

One time back up singer for Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae has been making quite a name for herself.  Yeah she is a bit out there, and her hair is even more so, but who cares?  The girl can sing and she is making some amazing music.  This album might be my fav album of the year period.

Monae manages to create a conceptual album with cohesive theme.  The amazing part is that the album seems so cohesive but it has wild variety in style of songs. It is like you are listening to a different person on some songs, but it all somehow fits the album and makes sense.

Stand Out Tracks:

Cold War:
This pumps me up, reminds me a bit of older Outkast.  Almost has a Bombs Over Baghdad feel.  Very upbeat and it comes on after Sir Greendown which is a very laid back song so it almost feels like you are waking up when it starts.

Come Alive:
This is completely different than the last song and it is just indicative of how varied this album is.  This song has almost a horror like sound to it – which is only more apparent when Monae is wailing on the chorus.  This song kind of reminds me of Blister in The Sun for some reason.  A definite rock feel to it.

Mushrooms and Roses: Love the vocal filter here, the guitars remind me of something you would hear on a Prince record.  Once again this song sounds nothing like the above two.

Wondaland: This is a spaced out pop tune that showcases the higher registers of Monae’s voice.  She sounds great on this actually.  It really jumps out as well.  The sequencing on this album is perfect.

This album will go down as one of my top 5 for the year.  I can’t see 5 more albums dropping this year that I like more than this.  It might not be your taste since it is kind of weird and can be a bit of a challenge to get into.  I think this will get serious Grammy consideration this year.  Hopefully she will sell more records if that happens – she deserves it.

What People Won’t Believe I Like: The Dream: Love King

I would have hated this album in high school.  I would have mocked any guy that listened to it.  I would have had big time arguments with the girls I knew. This was never my style of music.  For some reason though this album has hooked me in. I dunno how The Dream did it, but he did.  I find The Dream to be one of the biggest cornballs in music, but their is no denying his hit making ability. He was the man behind the scenes for such hits as Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”.

Considering those are two songs I could easily never listen to again…what the hell do I like about this album?  It is pretty commercial sounding, it is pretty soft and The Dream says some of the most cringe worthy things ever recorded. The problem is he does it in such a catchy way!  Some of his production is amazing as well.  I guess the best way is to look at some of the strong points on this album:

Make Up Bag:
Totally built for the radio – this is a transparent shot at the radio.  It is super catchy though and is actually kind of tongue in cheek funny. Before I heard this I was thinking “What kidn of man would sing about a makeup bag?”  The Dream would, that’s who!  Once I listened to the song I learned that he wasn’t actually singing about a “makeup bag”.  You’ll have to check it out to see what he means.

Abyss: Some great production on this.  Kind of reminiscent of Cry Me A River by Timberlake.  In fact this would probably be a huge hit with Timberlake on it.  As it is – it is still a great song.  It is also the end of a three song stretch that is a particularly strong part of the record.  The Dream does a great job making Yamaha – Nikki Pt. 2 and Abyss flow together.

Florida University:
This is probably the last song people would think I would like.  I just find it completely catchy.  I don’t even know how this isn’t a hit yet.  It is also super clever in my opinion.  I can easily picture people in the club screaming along to the chorus.  If you aren’t going to listen to this  but want to picture the chorus, just remember that Florida University can also be known as F.U.

If you are looking for deep meaning in your music this album might not be for you.  It is a great example of cleverly crafted pop music  Great sequencing and mixing on this as well.  The Dream is a total cornball, but the refreshing part is that he seems to know that.  He plays that angle well, and this album is full of humorous moments.  I find myself laughing along with The Dream rather than laughing at him.  I like this more than I should – but I don’t care.

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