Dusting off one of the oldies, giving it a little update. Originally written at The Dodson Citizen about five years ago. This post contains language that is not worksafe.
The link above comes from CNN, which is kind of a surprise. You would expect an article about R&B music at the likes of SoulBounce, or SoulTracks, just to name a couple of examples. No matter where it came from, the sentiments found in the article are on point. Listening to R&B today, particularly in the mainstream, you will hear few examples of songs about love and romance and courtship. Yet you will hear plenty of songs about sex-and not just in rap songs either. It’s as if getting to know a potential partner is a waste of time; just “hit it and quit it” is all we seem to be interested in.
I’m listening to a Spotify playlist called “Are & Be,” which just so happens to be a mix of current R&B tracks that are popular. And it is extremely difficult to find anything that remotely sounds like a love song from back in the day. Yes, I’m aware it’s a different time, but love is eternal, or is supposed to be, right? But, you can hear in direct, often coarse terms about sex. At least in the day when they sang about sex, you got the idea without the language being put in your face. I’m no prude by any stretch; after all, I’ve listened to these songs in their uncut versions so I know what the deal is. I just wish it was more like Teddy Pendergrass’ “Come Go With Me,” than like “No BS” (which is cited in the article above) or “Back To Sleep” (both featured below; neither worksafe).
That’s not to say it’s not acceptable to sing about sex-singing about sex has been in R&B for a long time. You can’t get much more sexually charged than Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Barry White made “Love Serenade,” what with the lines: “I don’t want to feel no clothes, I don’t want to see no panties, and take off that brassiere, my dear”. You knew the songs were about sex, but they were not necessarily all that you heard on the radio. And you got the gist of the song without using the language today’s singers use. Many singers and groups from years past would think nothing of singing songs of dedicating their lives to the one they loved or trying to be with someone for the rest of their lives. Now it’s about meeting in the club and getting in the sheets as quickly as possible.
I know I sound like I’m knocking today’s music-I really don’t dislike it. I just find the balance, the heart, even the sweetness that once was a staple of the music to be missing in the mainstream. It truly is out there, but you just have to look harder for it. That’s why sites like SoulBounce and SoulTracks, and those like them, perform a service for those of us looking for something different than what you get on the radio. Thankfully, there are examples out there for those who seek that kind of alternative. At any rate, if you are interested at all in R&B, you need to take a look at that article.
Here’s a playlist of 12 classic R&B love songs as featured in the article: