Best R&B Songs of 2012
In 2012, R&B has shifted and changed. There's been a move from the soulful essence of what the genre once was. Veteran artists like Usher embraced the sounds of electronic dance music, crooning over thumping beats that were previously absent from his catalog of hits. But just because some dibbled and dabbled doesn't mean others didn't stick to the R&B basics. Even newer singers have brought a unique, refreshing sound to the mix. If anything, this year produced a rainbow of R&B, some shrill and depressing, and some upbeat and boisterous. This list of the 10 best R&B songs of 2012 proves that the genre is anything but dead and these artists are only helping to evolve the spectrum of music even further. Find out which singers made the cut below.
There's nothing cookie cutter about the Weeknd. On 'Wicked Games,' he curses pervasively, uses dark imagery of drugs and “the devil,” and his sound is composed of eerie vibes. On this track, he's luring a woman into his dim world. The only thing light about his performance is his falsetto, which contrasts perfectly, making for a sonic experience that makes you want to dig deeper into his story. The song was released as a single in October, from his compilation album, 'Trilogy,' which was comprised of three mixtapes he dropped in 2011.
On 'Refill,' Elle Varner floats effortlessly on the beat, singing about her new addiction. Of course she's telling the story of a man who's caught her attention on this butterflies-in-your-stomach-filled track. Her infatuation has her feeling sort of awkward but she's not too shy to say she wants more. Though this guy makes her feel weak in the knees — comparable to an inebriated state — she succeeds in maintaining her cool. This was indeed her breakout track.
‘Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)’
Although Ne-Yo did write a song with the same title for crooner Mario in 2004, which was a hit, this one comes with an electric feel. The lead single from his fifth studio album, 'R.E.D.', it's a hypnotic dance track that's probably the catchiest song he's ever sung. Based on his knack for in-depth songwriting paired with this simple lyricism, we're pretty sure it didn't take him long to pen. One things for sure, Ne-Yo never fails to woo.
‘Put It Down’
Brandy makes her official comeback with Chris Brown's assistance. This is grown woman's business as told by the title. She's not waiting for the guy to initiate the rules for the situation, Brandy knows better and she's establishing the laws: “If you put it down right like the way I want it. Play your cards right, maybe we can fall in love.” Point, blank, this track bangs and Brandy is nothing short of confident on it. We wanted Brandy to have her moment and she definitely accomplished it with this track.
On this track, Trey Songz needs to make up his mind. His love life is heading towards the dumps, but who said it was supposed to be easy. Comparing his pain to cardiac arrest, 'Heart Attack' is a string of menacing thoughts fighting back and forth: to stay or to leave? “And if i lose you, I'm afraid I would lose who, who i gave my love to, that's the reason i stay around,” Trigga mopes. This is all foreshadowing for inevitable separation. This song is Trey's best chart-performing single from his No. 1 album, 'Chapter V', which is also certified gold.
‘Turn Up the Music’
Chris Brown also had his hand in the EDM cookie jar this year, but has managed to bring his R&B and hip-hop sentiments to the mix to really make it his own. 'Turn Up the Music,' off his fifth album, 'Fortune,' is a prime example. The song is a colossal ball of feel-good energy. CB is getting the party started and no one is allowed to hog the walls or sit looking too cool. He owns the track with his signature screams and his funky ad-libs are spread all over it.
Rihanna is no doubt the hardest working woman in the game. 'Diamonds' skyrocketed to the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in less than two months, making it her 12th No. 1 single to take the position. She delivers her mellow breathy vocals over this mid-tempo love song featured on her seventh album, 'Unapologetic.' Sia penned the vocals while StarGate and Benny Blanco lent talents on the production. RiRi's chant of “we're beautiful like diamonds in the sky” has everyone shining as they sing along.
In recent years, Usher is the father of a family of R&B artists who have embraced the electronic dance music craze. However, 'Climax,' produced by Diplo, was a return to a more souled out Ursh. Because let's be honest, we love him most when he's singing the sadder tales of our hearts. A No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B chart, 'Climax' gave us the motivation to close the book on relationships that have permanently hit the rocks.
‘Thinking ‘Bout You’
If 'Climax' was the breakup ode, then 'Thinking 'Bout You' had us contemplating trying again. Frank Ocean is a magician with the metaphors and imagery, conjuring a sonic illusion that will cause one to stare at their phone and ponder sending “that” text or making “that” call. “Or do you not think so far ahead, 'cause I've been thinking 'bout forever,” he whimpers as he faces the reality of the situation. With tracks like this, Frank had us on edge waiting to turn to his 'Channel Orange' LP in July.
The path this song has taken to get to the top has been interesting. 'Adorn,' which bubbled under the surface for some time, eventually emerged as a summer obsession. Rappers were remixing it left and right, but Miguel's unabridged lyrics left no room for additions to this track, which could read as the perfect love letter. When it seems like every song on the radio is focused on strippers and or being turnt up, 'Adorn' pauses all of that, and has you feeling your fluttery parts again. For Miguel, this was the perfect segue to releasing his sophomore album, 'Kaleidoscope Dream,' in October.