Singing about heartbreak usually takes a bit of life experience to do so convincingly, but when you’re a 16-year-old phenom, you can sing with the conviction of one who is truly broken-hearted.

In the summer of ‘95, Brandy released “Brokenhearted” as the fourth and final single from her self-titled debut album. Written by Keith Crouch and Kipper Jones, the song samples Loleatta Holloway “Cry to Me,” another outstanding ballad.

Like much of Brandy, “Brokenhearted” possesses the substance of a song that grownups could listen to without shame, all while maintaining qualities that appeal to the core fan base of a teenage Brandy. “I’m young, but I’m wise enough to know” is almost a rallying cry, opening the song with a clear statement about who this is by and who this is for.

The original version of “Brokenhearted” never got the video treatment, but one was made for a remix featuring Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris. For some odd reason, I used to think the remix was better, and though it is a solid track, there’s something haunting about the original that will have you feeling like you’re fresh out of a relationship.

“Brokenhearted” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the live performance below, Brandy performs the original but includes the bridge from the remix, thereby giving us the best of both worlds. Check it out below.

Justin Bieber just released “Intentions” (featuring Quavo), the second single from his upcoming album, Changes. Its documentary-style video focuses on people doing important work in their community despite significant trials and tribulations. The camera follows the Biebs and Quavo as they talk to these humanitarians and ultimately make generous donations to help them fulfill their intentions. It’s all very “God’s Plan.”

Justin Bieber does some of the best singing he has ever done on “Intentions,” and quite frankly, if he released this song as its first single (as opposed to “Yummy”), he wouldn’t have needed to beg people to stream it — only for it to be blocked from No. 1 by Roddy Ricch and slip out of the top 10 after two weeks. Hate to see it.

Check “Intentions” out below.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m happy to announce that Onika Maraj is back in her bag.

Being described as a “promotional single” (i.e., a song that the record label is expecting to underperform), “Yikes” is Nicki’s strongest showing in years — arguably better than every song on Queen. In the less than 24 hours since its release, the song has topped the iTunes chart in 17 countries and is still No. 1 in the US as of the time of this posting.

With the exception of a questionable Rosa Parks reference (which Nicki makes no apologies for), there isn’t much to criticize about “Yikes.” Check it about below.

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.