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.

More »

Live: The-Dream Revels In New York's Love At S.O.B.'s

Sunday, March 11

Better than: Seeing Terius Nash tonight (I hope).

"I'm too rich to play with high-class bitches," retorted The-Dream at his show at S.O.B.'s last night. Said "high-class bitch" was a lady he had pulled from the audience to seduce on stage during an especially touchy-feely rendition of "Purple Kisses." With the sold-out venue watching, she squirmed uncomfortably around his whispers in her ears and wandering hands and, as a result, Mr. Nash was quick to swap her out for a more willing fan. Girl No. 2 was more than thrilled to wrap her arms around the singer and lean into him as he kissed her neck on stage. The whole scene had half of the audience hollering in appreciation as the other half watched through their hands, mouths agape, although it was probably a mistake to expect anything less from the oversexed bedroom crooner.

More »

Underwhelmed and Overstimulated, Part Nine: Working For The Weeknd

weeknd drake.jpg
Drake and the Weeknd... enjoying themselves?
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Fellow roundtablers,

As we turn down the home stretch, I have to say this has all been awesome, and I'm a little sad that we'll soon have to wrap this up. That being said, I'm going to take advantage of that fact that neither Maura, Katherine, nor Tom will be able to respond to anything I say and talk a little about the Weeknd. In the words of Abel Tesfaye, you'll wanna be high for this.

More »

The-Dream Revisits His Own Legacy On 1977


On Monday at midnight, The-Dream defied the wishes of his label Def Jam and posted a free, 11-track album at the website of his own label (and Def Jam imprint) Radio Killa Records. However, he had already made his defense mechanism available two days earlier, when he—seemingly out of the blue—tweeted, "When I'm 40 ill write Myself a Pop Smash just so I can Perform on National TV. Not that hard to do. But that's not who I am right now." Although this sort of anti-pop gesture has historically been common among his Best New Music-nominated compatriots, it came as something of a surprise coming from the dude who once wrote "Umbrella," and "Single Ladies," and Justin Bieber's "Baby."

More »

Stream The-Dream's New Song, Get Ready For His New "Free Album"

Because, apparently, Terius Nash doesn't make mixtapes. If you head over to the Radio Killa Records homepage, you'll be greeted with the bronze-on-black tracklisting of 1977, The-Dream's new free album, which will be released at the same location in approximately 12 1/2 hours. All track names also work as links, so if you click on the record's opener, "Wake Me When It's Over," you'll be able to stream the track, and if you click on, say, "Wedding Crasher," you'll be able to read the lyrics, which include the refrain (caps lock his and, I assume, totally appropriate) "BABY THIS MY DRUNK SONG/ I HATE TO HAVE TO CRASH YOUR WEDDING/ WITH THIS SHIT/ THIS MY MOTHER FUCKIN ANTHEM."

More »

Kim Kardashian Ruins A The-Dream Song: Behold the Sad Spectacle of "Jam (Turn It Up)"

We had hopes for this song. We had such fucking hopes for this song. We had so many hopes and dreams for this song we wrote a whole musical about it. And instead it's come to this: a club trifle that in the hands of its creator, pop savant The-Dream, would probably look something a lot like a hit, or at least a charming bit of theme music, and in the mouth of its singer, Kim Kardashian, is nothing short of a disaster, a charmlessly robotic and atonal slog through a song that only requires the bare minimum of commitment and belief--commitment Kardashian inexplicably can't even begin to muster. (The last person to sound this bad on one of this guy's songs was Mariah Carey, and we're pretty sure that was his fault, not hers.) And to think we spent hours scrutinizing what we took to be the fireplace in this photo:

More »

Rob Harvilla's Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Naturally, this dude is involved
Distilling a full year of furtive, easily distracted, constantly overwhelmed listening down to a mere 10 albums is a ridiculous, agonizing, thoroughly loathsome undertaking, and yet here we all are, pulling nine fully formed sonic universes together and capping it off with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, because that's what we all did in 2010. Try Warpaint's morose "Undertow" when you want to feel sorry for yourself, Sleigh Bells' spectacularly violent "Straight A's" when you want to feel sorry for whoever you're about to punch in the face, and the morosely spectacular "Runaway" when you want to feel sorry for, well, Kanye. This was my year, with all the distractions finally, mercifully filtered out.

More »

Zach Baron's Top 10 Singles of 2010

Rich aliens, rich alienation. Still via connect.in.com
With sincere apologies to Chuck Eddy, my two favorite records of the year also produced my two favorite singles: funny how that happens. And though ten songs increasingly feels like about forty too few, especially when Dr. Luke is working, nothing was knocking "Runaway" off this list. What can I say? Been waiting fifteen years for rap to get this emo and for emo to get this rap. As for the rest of it, well, as Sean Fennessey noted in this space last week, most of these songs are ignorant as hell. The rest are about love. I'm not proud:

More »

Rob Harvilla's Top 10 Singles of 2010

cee lo fuck you too.jpg
Not every great song this year was released by Katy Perry. From a snarling avant-electro NPR lecture to a haunted-house posse cut to a ludicrously profane viral sensation, here are 10 examples. "Teenage Dream" might still be better than all of these, though. Better get this started before I change my mind.

More »

Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? Death To Chris Brown

Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!

America's preeminent lady-beater weeps. Photo via Word Up!
Funky drummers,

You know what shocked the shit out of me? The Chris Brown renaissance that occurred this year. After a series of interviews, in which he took very little responsibility for beating a beloved celebrity's face in and tactlessly attempted to use the opportunity of major press to mend his image, his petulant whining climaxed with him begging fans via SayNow.com (whatever that is!) to help "bring me back." You may already know this, but it bears reminding that he actually said these words: "My singing and my music is all great, but I do it for you guys and everything else but it won't be possible if I'm not relevant on the radio and it won't be possible for me to be an artist if I don't have any support from people that give me an artists outlet. I can't be an underground mixtape artist! I just want all my fans to help me." (And, for the record, his singing is merely adequate and Graffiti was, hands down, the worst major r&b release of the last 20 years. Motherfucker is tasteless, through and through.)

More »