Hit Machines: The Ten Best Singles Runs From Post-Confessions R&B Albums

In his recent review of R&B singer Miguel's fantastic Art Dealer Chic series of EPs, The A.V. Club's Evan Rytlewski explained the singer's rise in popularity by floating the idea that his 2010 album All I Want Is You contained "arguably the most engaging singles run of any R&B album since Usher's Confessions." This argument is much closer to the truth than it may seem on first blush.

Though the genre has experienced a bit of a downswing in the past few years, it's been a reliable source of great pop music since Confessions' release in March 2004. But is Rytlewski's claim correct? Let's look at the R&B albums with the best runs of three consecutive singles since the beginning of 2004 and find out.

But first, some ground rules: The three singles must have been released consecutively—a dud single at any point breaks a string—and off a single album (sorry, Ciara and Ne-Yo); each must have charted on Billboard's R&B chart; and the three singles don't have to be the first off the album, though on this list they all ended up that way.

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Long-Dormant Pop-Soul Icon Report: The Imminent Return of Both Sade and Maxwell

Yeah, that Sade, she of "Smooth Operator" and "By Your Side," maybe the best first-dance wedding song of the past decade. The latter hails from her last record, 2000's elegant Lover's Rock; the follow-up -- which longtime fans knew better than to even bother anxiously awaiting, as Sade clearly loves her downtime -- is apparently due out this fall. True story: I saw her in concert on September 10, 2001, and have felt really weird about her ever since. Another true story: I learned about this indirectly from Touré, which I consider welcome payback for some of the other disquieting stuff I've learned from or about him on Twitter.

In a similar vein, please enjoy above "Pretty Wings," the first new video from neo-soul survivor Maxwell's long-threatened Blacksummers'night trilogy. (The apostrophe plays hell with that title.) He's still great live, and his agenda/aesthetic hasn't changed: As such, this video is basically four minutes of foxy ladies sleeping. Shit is erotic.