If you’re familiar with this blog and how songs are reviewed around here, you will know that melody is paramount. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “Mr. Melody” by Natalie Cole is an all-time favorite.

For starters, there is a line in the song that says, “Without you, I would have no song,” which is a simple fact about music —- the only thing that makes it music (as opposed to poetry or prose) is a melody. Melody *is* music.

That being said, Natalie Cole is definitely singing about sex and whatnot, but the point stands.

“Mr. Melody” lives up to its title with a beautiful melody that draws you in from the very beginning. And toward the end of the song, Natalie Cole does some of the best scatting you will ever hear.

Released as the second single from her sophomore album, Natalie, “Mr. Melody” isn’t one of Natalie Cole’s biggest hits, but it is definitely among her best work. Check it out below.

A few hours ago, Drake “leaked” a new song titled “Desires,” which features Future and has a beat that almost sounds like a slowed down version of the “Life Is Good” beat.

How you going vegan but still beefing with me?

Drake doesn’t disappoint with caption-worthy lines and Futures does some of the best rapping he has ever done. The beat changes towards the end of the song, and suddenly, it feels like we’re listening to something from Nothing Was the Same.

Check “Desires” out below.

Brian McKnight is often thought of as a balladeer, and this is entirely because his biggest hits are heart-wrenching ballads. I mean…”Back at One,” anyone?

However, there was a time when Uncle Brian was serving jams. One of such jams was the “Hold Me” remix, which featured Tone (from Poke & Tone) and a 20-year-old Kobe Bryant. In the age of social media, this song is only ever brought up to make fun of Kobe’s verse, and while it wasn’t stellar, you have to respect the ambition of a basketball star taking an earnest shot at a music career. And for what it’s worth, parts of that verse sound like something out of an LL Cool J song, and I’m not just saying that to be generous as we mourn Kobe.

Looking back, it is fair to say that Kobe’s verse served as a bit of a distraction, because upon listening to “Hold Me” again from start to finish, you are reminded that it is actually a solid track. Also, upon re-watching the video, you are reminded of how hilarious it was to see Brian McKnight attempt to dance — at which point you almost become thankful that we focused on the Kobe’s verse all these years.

Watch the “Hold Me” (Remix) video below, and look out for cameos by Bill Bellamy, Claudia Jordan and Tyson Beckford, among others.

In September of 1999, Destiny’s Child released “Bug-A-Boo” as the second single from their sophomore album, The Writing’s on the Wall. The song is about a suitor who just wouldn’t stop calling in a time when MCI was still in existence and people still used AOL.

The “Bug-A-Boo” video would be the last one with the original Destiny’s Child lineup – LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were kicked out of the group before the release of their next single, “Say My Name.” The video also featured a cameo by then-up-and-comer Kobe Bryant, who passed away this past week in a fatal helicopter crash.

Written by Kandi Burruss, Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs and the ladies of Destiny’s Child, “Bug-A-Boo” peaked at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100. Coming on the heels of the group’s first No. 1 hit, “Bills, Bills, Bills,” it was a relative flop. However, the group will more than make up for this, with their next five singles peaking in the top three and their next eight peaking in the top 10.

In any case, we don’t need a chart to know that “Bug-A-Boo” is an absolute chune. Check it out below.

The 62nd Grammy Awards went down last night in Los Angeles, and for a number of reasons, it was a sad show.

First of all, Oscar winner and basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash just hours prior, so there was a heaviness in the Staples Center that was could be felt through the screen. There were numerous tributes to the former Laker, including a touching performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by the show’s host, Alicia Keys, who was joined by Boyz II Men (who covered the song in 1991).

As if the news of Kobe’s death wasn’t enough, the Grammys gave us reasons to be sad throughout the night. Billie Eilish was the night’s big winner, taking home five awards, including the Big Four, making her the first artist to sweep the general categories since 1981. And at just 18 years old, she’s the youngest artist to win the Album of the Year award.

Billie’s older brother, Finneas, also won five awards, all related to his work with on his sister’s album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

The only consolation is that Lizzo took home three tropies. For a full list of winners, click here.

Another reason to be sad? The performances were abysmal for the most part. The singing Alicia Keys did here and there as the host was better than most of the performances.

Thanks in large part to the weak competition, the performance of the night was undoubtedly the Prince tribute, which was delivered by Usher, Sheila E. and a dancing FKA Twigs. Usher wouldn’t have been my first pick for a Prince tribute, but he showed us that legends rise to every occasion. Also, FKA Twigs showed us that there is an actual performer underneath all of the avant-garde posturing.

If you’re anything like me, the 62nd Grammy Awards left you wanting. For better performances. For a better selection of winners. For the almost four hours wasted watching the show.

Every now and then, we have to dig deep for the TBT post. Megahits are nice, but as a true connoisseur of the arts, it is my duty to highlight those album cuts that may not be known to the casual fan.

Brandy’s self-titled debut LP, which turned 25 this past September, is a timeless body of work that only gets better with time. You might be familiar with its hit singles like “Brokenhearted” and “I Wanna Be Down,” but contained within that LP are some non-single tracks that are just as good if not better than the hits.

“Sunny Day” is a cheerful and age-appropriate song about a teenage girl longing for her boyfriend. It is one of two songs on the album where Brandy is credited as a songwriter, and you can hear her innocence in the songs lyrics and melody.

Solange once said that anyone writing about R&B should be familiar with “deep Brandy album cuts”, and I couldn’t agree more. Take this TBT post as a demonstration of my credentials. Enjoy.

If all you know about the Birds of Prey soundtrack is “Diamonds,” there’s a chance that you haven’t bothered to listen to anything else from that project. However, Doja Cat offers a bit of redemption with “Boss B*tch,” a catchy two-minute banger that blends EDM and hip-hop in a way that would remind of Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded album.

The video that accompanies the song shows Doja doing her best Harley Quinn, which isn’t a drastic deviation from her regular look. Check it out below.

The year was 2000 and a 22-year-old Usher was ready to follow up his breakthrough album, My Way (1997), with what he had hoped would be another commercial success. The album, which would have been his third, was supposed to be called All About U, and it’s lead single was a song called “Pop Ya Collar,” which was written by Usher, Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs and Kandi Burruss.

Unfortunately, “Pop Ya Collar” was leaked on Napster months ahead of its scheduled release, as were at least two other tracks that were supposed to be on All About U. As a result of this, the album was shelved so Ursh could record brand new material, and said shelving meant that “Pop Ya Collar” was essentially abandoned soon after its release. Depending on who you ask, “Pop Ya Collar” was also abandoned because the song wasn’t rising on the charts as quickly as the record label had hoped, peaking at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Whatever the case may be, “Pop Ya Collar” is considered one of Usher’s best around these parts. It is very Year 2000 in sound and content, but it slaps just as hard 19 years later because Usher was singing his ass off and good melodies age beautifully.

Calling it a classic would be flagrant lie, but it is a true gem that deserved better. Check it out below.

The hands of time never stop turning, and eventually, most things are forgotten. Many of the hit songs that seem ubiquitous today will be mere footnotes in a few years — significant only to the people who loved them at the time of their initial release. Every now and then, however, an artist strikes gold with a hit that outlives its chart reign.

On January 13, 1990, MC Hammer struck gold with “U Can’t Touch This,” the lead single from his sophomore album, Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em.

“U Can’t Touch This,” which samples Rick James’ “Super Freak,” wasn’t rap’s first crossover hit. However, almost all of the rap songs that had achieved crossover success at that point were either not purely rap songs or were performed partially or entirely by white artists.

“U Can’t Touch This” was rap through and through, and one might argue that it reached a new frontier of popularity for the genre. The song was literally everywhere, and with a chorus that simple says, “You can’t touch this,” everybody could sing along.

And the music video. My oh my.

The harem pants. The fade/ponytail combo. The dance moves.

The video was clearly before the days where rappers worried about being “too pop” or “too commercial,” and the absence of that burden is what makes it so special. MC Hammer was being himself, and the genre would benefit from that kind of sincerity in 2020.

“U Can’t Touch This” propelled its parent album to over 18 million units in global sales, with over 10 million sold in the US alone — making it the first rap album to be certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song won Grammys for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best R&B Song — the latter being a clear indicator of how clueless the industry was about rap. “U Can’t Touch This” also became the first rap song to be nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys.

Thirty years later, the song is still a constant — in TV shows, in movies, in commercials. And yes, in parodies too. But whatever the case may be, the song’s legacy remains untouched.