Speaking of the Jacksons...
this tune, a certified (erring towards certifiable) banger, features on THIS mix which is associated with the So Bones blog/night.
Natasha (feat Clipse) So Sick
Britney Spears I Got A Plan
Chris Brown Flamethrower
Janet Jackson So Much Betta
Ryan Leslie Addicted (feat Cassie & Fabolous)
Common Universal Mind Control
Electrik Red W.F.Y
Rich Boy Drop
Nicole Scherzinger (feat T.I.) Whatever You Like
Usher (feat Ludacris) Dat Girl Right There
Ciara Work (feat Missy Elliott)
Mims Move If You Wanna
The mix/blog/night all concentrate on contemporary RnB, which it turns out is full of robo-vocalists singing about shagging over populist avant-garde techno-crunk, as opposed to Boyz 2 Men harmonising (about shagging) over the soundtrack to the Red Shoe Diaries. Of course, everybody knows that producers like Timbo and the Neptunes have been outclassing a lot of dance producers in the innovation + perspiration stakes for a long time now, and I'm pretty sure that both of them are involved in one way or another in some of these tunes - for example Danja, who produced the Britney tune, is a Timbaland understudy who helped the master create tunes such as this
There's also a huge influence from chopped-and-screwed stuff - vocals are slowed down or pitched up fairly consistently, as well as being looped and reversed and (of course) autotuned/vocodered to fuckery. In fact, it strikes you listening to this mix that vocalists in this sort of RnB have become almost synthesised - as in, say, a Todd Edwards tune, vocal lines are as chopped up and manipulated as any other sample/synth might be, employed for textural or rhythmic purposes primarily. Of course this is what vocals always HAVE been employed for on some level, but this sort of music really brings that aspect to the fore.
The vocals on a lot of these tunes leave me a bit cold - I don't find them that memorable or emotionally engaging (in the case of the latter perhaps that's the point?). It fits with the ruthlessly functional (though mind-bendingly experimental and liberated) production, the massively expensive digitally enhanced videos etc... the dehumanised (anti)personalities of the singers/dancers. Actually, even leaving aside the Janet Jackson tune, the spectre (erk) of M.J. seems to hang over all of this music - M.J. the weird, almost mechanically precise dancer, with all those strange vocal tics and yelps and screeches. I know fuck all about RNB/soul music in general but perhaps Jackson's move from Motown soul to bizarro post-human POP was influential in dragging a large sector of the RNB world along with him?
Still, at least alongside all this Jacko had an unmistakable personality and passion/soulful quality, and extremely good songwriters crafting unforgettable melodies/choruses etc. His voice was so good, and the songwriters too, that he could convincingly sound like a horny sex-bomb when actually you wouldn't be all that surprised if the autopsy revealed him to have a Penis Pan between his legs (the willy that never grew/got up heh-heh-heh). Justin Timberlake doesn't of course have anything like the talent that Jacko did but a tune like 'Rock Your Body' absolutely slayed because the Neptunes production was matched by an extremely strong song (which was presumably written for Jacko himself and rejected?)
Anyway, the real stars of this show are behind the boards. Download the mix, it will blow your pants off (on a decent system - check the 808s on 'So Sick' and go from there). Incidentally, the sample source for 'So Much Better' is this
How very Kanye.
On a side note, my favourite commercial RNB vocalist (aside from Kels, obviously DUHH) is probably Ne-Yo, although that is only based on a few tunes like this one
which was produced by a Norweigan production duo called Stargate who used to make shite like 'One Love' by Blue and 'S Club Party'. On Dissensus the other day, somebody posted up this tune
I'm now not entirely sure if Stargate nicked a riddim and changed it for Ne-Yo, or vica versa. Perhaps I should ask. Big tune though.
and go to So Bones for the real knowledge innit
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