I put out an emergency call to choose a new feel good, throwback r&b anthem for 2023…and y’all answered!
First it was “Candy Rain,” then “Poison,” and “If It Isn’t Love” and “Weak” both narrowly escaped severe injury. Now, “Can We Talk” has been worn out like a cozy but delicate vintage sweater not meant for frequent use.
It’s an amazing song – it’s melodic, it’s catchy, it makes you warm and fuzzy, Kenny Edmonds did the damn thing and Tevin’s voice is Tevin’s voice – but COME ON y’all. We ain’t play the song this much when it came out.
This is especially egregious because the 90s was arguably the richest decade of R&B music before or since. The period from 87-93 alone is a treasure trove of mid-tempo bops. So in the spirit of not completely ruining a song I loved on first run but am starting to grow tired of (even the bridge), I motioned that the Black collective discuss a change for 2023.
Folk nominated songs that:
ARE WELL KNOWN: The song doesn’t have to be a hit, but it should be a classic. That B Side or album track that was a bop but nobody ever mentions or plays is probably not the move.
ARE MID-TEMPO: These can be love songs but they’re not ballads. Think about two step-ability. Also can it be easily played in the club without speeding it up so much it sounds like a Kanye production?
HAVE LYRICS AND HOOK THAT ARE EASY AND CATCHY: The litmus test is whether the song would make sense in a “We both in the club, high, singing off key…” reference.
HAVE A GREAT BRIDGE AND OR ADLIBS: It needs a moment for the crowd to get hype and the DJ to cut the track
EVEN IF THE SUBJECT MATTER IS SAD, FEELS GOOD: You know how “Before I Let Go” is a jam but about a pending break up? That.
WERE RELEASED AT SOME POINT BETWEEN 87 & 97: Preferably between 87 and 93, but we had a few late 90s suggestions
These songs were taken out of the running because they’re already dangerously close to overplay or due to past overplay:
New Edition “If It Isn’t Love”
Dru Hill “Tell Me” (I see it coming already)
Fantasia “When I See You”
Jodeci “Come and Talk to Me” Remix
Soul For Real “Candy Rain”
These tracks made the final cut for voting (Yes, there’s a playlist )
Tevin – I’m Ready
Ralph Tresvant – Sensitivity
Guy – “I Like”
Keith Sweat & Jackie McGee – Make It Last Forever
Hi Five – “Kissing Game (I Like the Way)”
Troop – “Spread My Wings”
Carl Thomas – “I Wish”
Jodeci – “Forever My Lady”
En Vogue – “Hold On”
After 7 – “Ready or Not”
After 7 – “Can’t Stop”
Mint Condition – “U Send Me Swingin'”
Mint Condition – “Pretty Brown Eyes”
Tony Toni Tone – “Anniversary”
Tony Toni Tone – “It Never Rains”
Tony Toni Tone – “Whatever You Want”
New Edition – “Not My Kind of Girl”
Jade – “Don’t Walk Away”
Zhane – “Sending My Love”
Zhane – “Hey Mr. DJ”
TLC – “Baby Baby Baby”
Groove Theory – “Tell Me”
Brandy – “I Wanna Be Down
THE 2023 THROWBACK R&B JAMS
And finally, the people’s choices* for 2023 retro R&B goodness. (*People could vote multiple times for multiple songs so this is not a net 100% vote)
Get Spotify and Apple Music Links for full playlist here.