Unless you have been living under a rock or have some sort of bias against any music that was released in 2012, you’ve probably heard Usher’s “Climax.” The song is one of the single’s from Usher’s brand new project, Looking 4 Myself, which came out yesterday. Most critics who have written about the album say “Climax” is the best song on what is arguably Usher’s best album since Confessions (even though can I just say, Here I Stand is super slept-on? But I digress). For my money, “Climax” is the best R&B song of the year, and it’s not even a contest.
To support my opinion, I can get into some music critic mumbo-jumbo about Diplo’s incredible production on “Climax” or Usher’s impeccable use of falsetto and range, but why describe the obvious? If we like the song, those reasons are very clear to us. “Climax” sounds excellent, but how so? We hear there is something special, but what is that special quality that makes “Climax” stand out?
The other obvious question: There’s a lot of good music that comes out every day, so why the hell would I take the time to devote today’s post to just one song?
The first time I saw Gregory Porter was in 2010, at a sparsely attended show he put on at Drom. The sight of a young jazz vocalist in this day and age is about as common as seeing a unicorn, so even without hearing his debut, Water, which also came out in 2010 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal, I bought a ticket.
Overall, the show was impressive. Porter had not only the voice but the jazz IQ to make me an instant fan, but there was one song that hit me from the very first notes Porter sang and that song was “Be Good.” Months later, when I caught him live at The Blue Note, I prayed he perform the song again as it had not yet been recorded or released on record. Thankfully, he did.
“Be Good” is also the title of Porter’s new album, which came out this year on Valentine’s Day. Even after the countless listenings I still don’t know what the song is about. I’ve gathered that it speaks to the way some women have a hold on us, but I’d love to hear what interpretations you all my have about the song.
(When watching, try to focus on the song and not that peculiar tuxedo shirt Porter is wearing)
Ever since H-Town said “listening to some Marvin Gaye all night long,” the legacy of Marvin Gaye’s music has been somewhat commercialized in ways that disgust me. “Let’s Get It On,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” even “What’s Going On” a song that has never not been fitting for the times when it is played; all of these fantastic songs are no longer such. I mean, they’re still good, but tolerable? It’s honestly gotten to the point where I hear them and I don’t even listen to 30 seconds, I skip right along to the next song.
But this is not the case for the majority of Marvin’s catalog. Die-hard Marvin fans know Gaye was more than just some bedroom Lothario who was all about getting panties thrown at him. I mean, that was the life he lived, but I’m saying, his music went much deeper, and ran a gamut of emotions. For my money, his best moments on record aren’t about lust or even love, but rather, love lost.