Best R&B Songs of 2015 (So Far)
Are R&B songs going to be the songs of the summer? Most likely not. Fetty Wap still exists. R&B hasn't been that great this year either. But it's not a complete wasteland. The great thing about our list of the Best R&B Songs of 2015 (So Far) is that it features some of the hottest singers in the game.
Miguel's latest single, "Coffee," is another example of the R&B crooner's sensuality and there's plenty more of that on his third album, WILDHEART. Songstress Natalie Da Rose's "Somebody" hints that she might be a star in the future.
So ideally, the first half of the year preludes the greatness that's going to come in the second half. However, we'll ultimately have to wait and see. For now, take a look at the Best R&B Songs of 2015 (So Far), featuring the likes of Omarion, Jazmine Sullivan, Jidenna, Rihanna and others.
“FourFiveSeconds” is really more of a country pop song -- pretty much Taylor Swift’s domain. However, the collaboration peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Still, you can make the argument that “FourFiveSeconds” is eventful enough to be unconcerned with genres. You have one of the greatest songwriters ever, one of the greatest pop stars ever and one of the greatest artists for a few minutes.
The Weeknd has changed a bit. Four years ago, his character’s interpretation of devotion was a woman sleeping with his boys. He’s toned it down a bit since since tasting a bit of Billboard success thanks to Ariana Grande. “Earned It” finds the Toronto crooner less villainous and more orchestral for the biggest hit of his career. The Weeknd’s monogamist bent hasn’t changed just yet; he’s channeled Michael Jackson and decided to express his love in four words: “Can’t Feel My Face.” The Weeknd in love isn’t a bad sight.
Natalie Da Rose’s hit shares a couple of similarities with Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell Em.” The clearest is how its a call to the dancefloor with a DJ Mustard-like focus on mixing minimalism with funky keys. Also, Jeremih’s on the track. However, Da Rose’s mellifluous performance (and the Whitney Houston interpolation) pushes “Somebody” past being a derivative.
Miguel is arguably R&B’s only rock star, mixing guitar-driven lust with star-crossing romance. The production is complex for the sake of intensifying a simple pleasure. “Coffee” isn’t even the best song on WILDHEART. The three songs Miguel released earlier this week proved things get even wilder. Even so, this lead-in single is a damn good starter kit.
Frank Ocean’s biggest talent isn’t his tender singing voice or his pristine ear for instrumentation. He’s remarkably translucent. At his best, Ocean’s glassy-eyed music magnifies the intimate passions — mostly a sense of longing — hidden within the listeners. So if fits that he’d cover The Isley Brothers’ "At Your Best (You Are Love).” Aaliyah’s cover was great, but Ocean’s fantastic falsetto performance may make his the standard.
Janelle Monae has been great since she dropped The ArchAndroid. However, even her most accessible singles have never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs chart. Jidenna has only been signed to Wondaland for a few months but already has a charting hit with “Classic Man.” His skills set is more limited than Monae’s, but he’s a pretty good salesman. His steez isn’t anachronistic, but “Classic,” mixing chivalry and rebellion over a DJ Mustard-like beat.
Jubilation is infectious. Chance The Rapper caught it and passed to The Social Experiment for Surf. Months before, he swung it over Kehlani’s way for “The Way.” Like Surf, Chance The Rapper isn’t the star here. Kehlani soothes within the aquatic production. We’re talking about her voice, although another part of the song’s charm is Kehlani’s bluntness: “It’s the way you love, the way you f---, the way," she sings.
The oddest thing about Omarion’s performance at Summer Jam is that Jhene Aiko was the biggest star of his set — and she wasn’t even there in spirit. However, the crowd was more engaged when the DJ played the infamous "grocery" line than they’ve been that entire 15-minute set. “Post to Be” isn’t the song that saved Omarion’s career; it’s the song that solidified Jhene Aiko as a star with her eyebrow-raising line.
Out of the excellent February 15 album, “Apple Cherry" stands out the most because of how it dissolves like melting ice. The smooth production twists around Nao, whose saccharine falsetto begets the strong sense of yearning: “Could I change your mind / With Apple cherry kisses / Do your lips decline?” she sings. It’s a near flawless combination, and as a result, you’re in weightless suspension along with the song.
R&B has had a long history of using love songs as a mode of catharsis - the love is gone, so let’s release our pain through song. Not here. Over operatic chants, Sullivan makes questions why should she have to make the emotional journey when it’s her lover that’s the screw? “So now what I hate the most, is you think you're so smart/ You think you're fooling me,” she sings. It’s a performance that makes it clear that she has her s--- together.