Before we prepare to ring in the New Year, we must pay homage to 2012 for the R&B songs that graced the airwaves this year.
You have to admit, this year was chockfull of singles that showed artists doing their best to push the limits and to deliver music to fans that they’ve never heard before. Gone are the days of the lazy lyrics paired with subpar vocals and in came experimenting on artists’ parts to bring forth original projects, anything to set them apart from the competition.
But enough of all that jazz; without further ado, here are the top 10 hottest R&B songs of 2012.
10. Brandy ft. Chris Brown – “Put It Down”
This was an artist team up that a lot of fans didn’t see coming. Besides the fact that these two singers are from different eras, their sounds aren’t quite the same. And yet, their collaboration churned out a hit that helped put Brandy back on the map. Although “Put It Down” received mixed reviews due to Brown’s presence on the track, the single managed to be one of the top 5 singles on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop 100 chart.
9. Elle – “I Don’t Care”
There’s something very diverse about singer Elle Varner. No, it’s not just her noteworthy fluffy curls that caused many natural sisters to have hair-crushes everywhere; it’s that voice and the lyrics that paint the perfect picture. The production on “I Don’t Care” draws you in at first hear – if that makes sense – and the message of being in love and not giving a care about anything else made it hard for listeners not to relate.
8. Alicia Keys – “New Day”
Alicia Keys has undergone a transformation these past couple of years. She ushered in her new album “Girl On Fire” with practically a new life and new chopped hair do. “New Day” dripped with Hip Hop instrumentation and really did the job of proving what Alicia and husband Swizz Beatz can manifest (Beatz produced the track). Interestingly enough, rapper 50 cent put out the exact same sounding track with the inclusion of rapper/producer Dr. Dre – Alicia, however, is only on the hook. But we can agree, that we like Alicia’s version just a bit better.
7. Keyshia Cole – “Trust & Believe”
Did you hear that? That is the sound of collective sighs everywhere from Keyshia’s fans who are thrilled to see the singer back to her roots of singing so well about pain. It’s a bit selfish of us to want Ms. Cole to step away from her blissful life of being happily married and being a mom to one of the cutest babies on the planet. But hey, we want what we want – and we want her to serve up a song for the broken hearted ladies all across the country. “Trust & Believe” gives all R&B fans life with just the thunderous drums that greets at the start of the track. And if that doesn’t draw the listener in, Cole’s passionate crooning gets the job done. Although “Woman to Woman” (the album “Trust & Believe appears on) only pushed approximately 96,000 copies its first week, the single was a great effort from the singer.
6. R. Kelly – “Feelin’ Single”
Now, many R&B fans may have their reservations about Chicago native R. Kelly following the sex tape of all sex tapes, but one thing no one can deny is that Kelly knows how to put out singles that even his haters can’t refuse turning up when it plays on their radios. “Feelin’ Single” has that old school sound with a new school twist. With lyrics based on a situation that never gets old, Kelly delivers a single that is surely the scorned heart’s vintage theme song to go along with the “I’ve had just about enough” attitude.
5. Tamia – “Beautiful Surprise”
If we could describe singer Tamia’s sound in one word it would probably be refreshing. Her voice is airy goodness that sounds like it is emanating from gold-plated vocal chords. She’s an artist who is just that an artist – not dependent on her personal life to sell records and relying on her voice for recognition. “Beautiful Surprise” much like the singer is a refreshing contribution to R&B in 2012. It doesn’t have the traditional R&B sound and flirts with a Pop flare. Those who aren’t avid R&B followers most likely didn’t know the singer released an album (Beautiful Surprise) in August. But those who got an earful of “Beautiful Surprise” downloaded the single by the boatload helping the single to sit at number 1 on the iTunes chart.
4. Elle Varner – “Refill”
It is pretty black and white when it comes to fans reactions regarding Elle Varner’s single “Refill.” Fans will either say that they love the single or absolutely hate it. We happen to think that “Refill” is not only appealing but just as much creative. If you are not able to fall in love with the ever-present violin that strums throughout the track or Elle’s voice which manages to wrap around the sultriness of the beat, then maybe Elle’s ability to compare her need for more of her lover’s time to a girl who’s been at the bar way too long (we’ve all been there) will help with you getting obsessed. “Refill” was the perfect follow up to Elle’s “Only Wanna Give It To You” showing that she can be just as much R&B as she is Pop and Hip-Hip.
>> Must Read! Elle Varners debut LP “Perfectly Imperfect” review <<
3. Drake ft. Rihanna – “Take Care”
Although Drake’s album “Take Care” was released in November2011, the single “Take Care” was released in February 2012 and worked out perfectly with keeping us warm during the early winter months. The track is simply infectious. Not to mention, having Drake and Rihanna on the same track quenched a lot of our thirsts who secretly want to see him finally get what he’s been wanting for years. “Take Care” has an organic sound that relies on the bass of the drum and the simplicity of both Drake and Rihanna’s voices. Plus, hearing them be so subliminal when it’s so apparent exudes the mystery of their friendship.
2. Frank Ocean – “Thinkin’ Bout You”
Frank Ocean took the genre by storm with his personal life. His honesty attracted fans to his toned-down sound and fierce boldness. There is truly no other track that can be compared to “Thinkin’ Bout You.” It doesn’t sound like any song any of us have heard before and it unapologetically draws us into Frank’s planet wherever that may be. Metaphors galore, subliminal references, and emotion filled; “Thinkin Bout You” helped make 2012 a great year for music.
>> Must Read! – Frank Ocean’s “coming out” letter <<
1. Miguel – “Adorn”
Miguel broke the mold when he penned the lyrics for “Adorn.” Everything lined up perfectly – the beat, the arrangement, his voice, and most importantly the lyrics. It was as if all of the elements from this monster single were custom made, tailored for each other. Though Miguel showed and proved himself with his debut LP All I Want Is You, this single gives truth to the idiom “good things come to those who wait.” “Adorn” has earned Miguel a few Grammy nominations including one for Song of the Year.
Sound off: Do you agree with this list? Are there any singles that we missed that you feel deserve to be #1?