Tagged as: R&B

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Sometimes, you need a bit of romance in your musical life. And not just songs about whatever dude Taylor Swift can’t seem to get over these days. No, sometimes you need perennially sweet and lovely, genre defining songs. So you should be pretty gosh-danged glad that you came to either/or to satisfy your needs, because we totally got your back.

This song has been covered to death, but nothing beats this original duet between two Motown greats. Ain’t nothing pretentious, overly sappy or overwrought here, folks: just pure delight!

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I was naughty yesterday and neglected to post something, so here’s a backdated post. Furthermore, I’ve also uploaded the MP3 for you to download, making me excessively naughty, but I’m almost certain there’s no decent way to get a hold of this tune.

Anyway, allow me to introduce Michael Franti and Katie Noonan singing the Marvin Gaye classic What’s Going On. Franti is an American hip-hop artist and Noonan is one of Australia’s most talented artists, and boy does it show in this song: her singing is just superb! This performance appeared on the Australian panel TV show called, er, The Panel, which frequently featured wonderful, stripped-down acoustic performances from a huge variety of artists.

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Today’s track comes from Megan. Today is also the day I realise that this may have been a terrible idea! So I guess this song is kind of romantic? Though it sounds like there’s a panting dog in the background, so who knows what’s going on in there. It reminds me of mid-nineties Peter Andre. Oh, and this guy. I can only assume this song came about in the same way, and probably used for the same reasons!

Miss Right by Ne-Yo on Grooveshark

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I could’ve sworn we’d posted this on either/or before, but the search didn’t come up with anything. Huzzah! My job is now 9/10 done.

Anyway, this is a pop/R&B tune that I would classify as mystically dark. Laleh is an Iranian-Swedish singer-songwriter according to Wikipedia, who was nominated for a Grammi (the Swedish Grammy) back in 2005 but lost to someone else. Awards, psh! Meaningless! We’ve won none and we’re still rad. R-right???

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There’s a lot of charm to be found in the R&B tunes of yesteryear: they’re genuinely heartfelt and poetic without today’s apparent necessity to throw notes and key changes all over the place, or need to deal with life on the streets. Having said that, a lot of past R&B is quite soppy in their arrangements and not very empowering to the women that sang them: we get it, you love him even if he is a bit of a jerk!

This song doesn’t quite go the way of total devotion to some dude (it’s actually a rather sweet love song in general). The great thing about it is its haunting quality. The opening chords and choral “Ooo” are wonderful and get me every darn time, before moving into something with quite a bit of variety – it even goes into a shuffle later on!

If You Love Me, really Love Me by Esther Phillips on Grooveshark

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Pretty ladies are one thing. But pretty ladies who can sing? That’s something else. And who does this poor introduction benefit? Why, Welsh born Jem, singer of many delightful tunes of course! Keeping with my long-running tradition of posting stuff we’ve all heard of before, Jem plays a charming mix of pop with electronic leanings, spliced together with the occasional acoustic-y number. Her singing is reminiscent of Imogen Heap of Frou Frou fame, and Sophie Barker who sings a few tunes for Zero 7. So if you like that kind of mellowed out prettiness, then Jem should suit your pallet. If not, then I guess I didn’t sell this post very well. She’s had a couple of her tunes featured on Long Way Round (yay) and Grey’s Anatomy (not so yay), as well as some other bits and pieces here and there.

Jem only has the one album at the moment: a new one was supposed to be out last year, but it’s kinda disappeared for the time being. Hopefully, it’ll resurface this year! For now, here’s some last.fm approved tunes to listen to.

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While the Dougster is renowned for bringing you the latest in the world of ska and gyspy and all manner of weird bands you’ve never heard of before, and Hugh is renowned for bringing you a good general mix of stuff you’ve probably never heard of before, I’ve always brought up the rear with stuff you’ve heard before, you know of, or you’ve heard to death. And this post is 100% without exception.

Remember how I was talking about that late night radio station that got me hooked on Wax Tailor? Well, it also got me hooked on Nikka Costa, a charming lady who plays some groovetastic R&B. I’ll have to say, today’s stream of R&B (mainstream wise) was something I generally avoided like the plague, so it was nice to hear some decent R&B for once.

Fans of Arrested Development (rippin’ show that one) should already be familiar with at least one Nikka Costa song: Everybody Got Their Something was featured pretty heavily on it. Anyhoo, Nikka plays a good mix of funky R&B and soul in a really sophisticated way. Well, sophisticated is the wrong word. Basically, it’s not trashy, like so much mainstream music is these days. There’s some really sweet tracks too, such as Push and Pull which would definitely have to be my favourite on the Everybody Got Their Something album. She also has an incredible vocal range: it goes from damn low to ear piercingly high (in a good way, honest).

This is a really sucky post and I can’t find any media for her, short of her MySpace page. So if you know how to navigate that contraption of a website, then please be my guest!

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I have yet to find a way to purchase any of their recordings, so needless to say I downloaded the tracks instead. Not to be confused with the similarly named Suburban Legends I wrote about earlier, these crazy dudes from California were only around a short while in the 90’s, but they put out some ridiculously good music before succumbing to inner-band squabbles.

Commonly associated with the 3rd wave ska scene (most people would know their name from Reel Big Fish’s song S.R.), they really aren’t a ska band, as even their ska numbers deviate quite a bit from the usual standards. They aren’t heavy on horns at all, and they make inspired use of their guitars to blend in funk, rock, punk, and even a little country. It is hard to really pin them down to one style, but with them that’s a good thing.

Plus, they’ve got some interesting lyrics, like in the ludicrously cathartic 99 Degrees: “I’m feeling 99 degrees, and I don’t mean Fahrenheit! It’s Celsius, you oaf! When I hear your wicked words, they choke me up until I’m blue, just like the rope I’d use if I was gonna strangle you!”. Fortunately, they are not nearly as angry on their other songs, and are able to effortlessly phase between serious (Coming Out of the Woodwork) and goofy topics (Gameshow, “Pat Sajak is a saviour, he always has a vowel for sale!”). A shame they were so short lived!

Since you’d probably have a hell of a time finding their recordings, I’ll be going a little overboard with links on this one.


From Suburban Rhythm
Lust – (MP3, 4.9 MB)
Coming Out of the Woodwork – (MP3, 5.4 MB)
My Sister Sam – (MP3, 4.6 MB)
Gameshow – (MP3, 3.8 MB)
99 Degrees – (MP3, 4.5 MB)
Tension – (MP3, 6.8 MB)