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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Radio Hits One: T-Pain Escapes Lead Single Purgatory

The Revolver cover.
On Thursday Jive Records announced that T-Pain's fourth album rEVOLVEr would be out on December 6. That same day, the rappa ternt sanga's single "5 O'Clock" reached a new Hot 100 peak of No. 25 . The timing wasn't exactly coincidental. The track, on which T-Pain is supported by Lily Allen and Wiz Khalifa, is the sixth single he's released in support of the album, and it has quickly become the most successful to date. But for over two years, he was lobbing one song after another into the marketplace, and each time it would quickly fall off the charts, and Jive would delay the album and start over from scratch.

The press release announcing the album calls "5 O'Clock" the second single from rEVOLVEr, designating "Best Love Song" featuring Chris Brown as the first. Truthfully, they're the sixth and fourth singles, respectively, but they're also the only top 40 hits from the campaign so far—which means everything else that missed will likely be tossed out, or only included as bonus tracks on certain editions of the album.

Not long ago, an album with half a dozen Hot 100 hits would be considered a runaway success. But the bar for singles-chart success to serve as a benchmark for potential album sales has been raised so high in recent years that rEVOLVEr has struggled for two years to find its way into stores, and other albums like it have as well.

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T-Pain Swears Off Auto-Tune, But Don't Think That Means He's Going Unplugged

Categories: Synergies, T-Pain

He should really open a haberdashery next.
Earlier this hour a tweet from Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff crossed the SOTC transom, and it contained important news for fans of music-production technology and pop-tinged R&B: "End of an era: @TPAIN says 'I vow right here, right now, to never use Auto-Tune again,'" it read. Mon dieu! Could this mean that Teddy Pin-Her-Ass-Down would drop the effects and get nice and close to the microphone on his next record? Or could it just mean that he'd figured out that, hey, since so much of his brand is tangled up in the idea of his vocals being electronically altered, he might as well come out with a vocal processor branded with his own name?

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T-Pain, Proud Owner of a New Facebook Tattoo, Probably Wants You To Forget He Once Wrote a Song About MySpace

Categories: T-Pain

Quoth T-Pain: "I think this ones pretty sweet, unless facebook shuts down soon 0_o"

T-Pain is so determined to show how much he loves social media that he's just recently inked a Facebook "LIKE" button on his body. But what's especially terrific about this nerd-world news? This isn't the AutoTune OG's first foray into eternalizing social media's capriciousness. No, this is the same man who once penned the Web 2.0 chestnut, "What's Yo MySpace?"

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On Taylor Swift and T-Pain's "Thug Story"

The above video, which depicts T-Pain and Taylor Swift rapping together, frankly falls into We Probably Need to Mention This, But Damned If We Have the Slightest Idea What to Say About It category. As an experiment in whether Swift's critic-wooing adorability can survive something this atrocious, I'd say it's a rousing success: Her "I'venevereallybeeninaclub" line is perfectly balanced between "cute" and "terrible." It's probably best to just note that this is basically the Natalie Portman Rap with no profanity and leave it at that, but what really sticks with you here is T-Pain: Was there a point in his career when he wasn't spoofing himself? Is he the Chuck Norris/William Shatner of rap? Does anyone else even come close?

Please Let the Auto-Tune Jokes End: A Brief History of the Pitch-Correcting Software's Legacy

If Auto-Tune hit its peak as a joke delivery device last week amidst the spectacle of a weirdly robotic Katie Couric involuntarily singing an "O Superman"-reminiscent lament for melting polar ice caps, it also hit its nadir at about the same time, when a tape surfaced of an Auto-Tuned Martin Luther King "singing" his epochal "I Have a Dream" speech. If there is a god, the internet's random desecration of one of the all-time great oratorical moments of the 20th century should finally put Auto-Tune-as-a-joke in the internet meme grave, hopefully never to rise again. As far as the larfs went, the technology had a good run.

The phenomenon started simply: Former Exxon seismic data explorer Andy Hildebrand manipulated a technology that had previously been used to detect oil under the Earth and applied it to music, debuting his Auto-Tune software in 1997. The program was immediately popular, used to detect pitch, correct vocals and resurrect the careers of Oscar-winning future Christopher Guest parody subjects. Humor ensued. And thus we begin.

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