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Saturday, October 27, 2007

It comes to pass sometimes that the seemingly culturally astute, the "with it"--miss something (or someone) blindingly obvious. Despite my professed awareness of '90s R&B, I missed a really big light: Deborah Cox. I discovered a few of her songs by accident a couple weeks ago on launch.com. I had probably heard "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here" once or twice before this. Well, that song caught my attention this time, so I listened to a few more songs, and...wow. Was I hiding under a rock? Sounds like Whitney, only better, with better songs. Of course, I loved "We Can't Be Friends," it being about broken hearts and all. That preference is odd, in that I've never truly had a broken heart romantically speaking. It's always been that way with me, loving love songs. One (non-emotive) theory might be that love songs have simpler, accessible melodies. It has always been my test: If I must sing along, it's a good song. If the words strike me as insightful as well, it's a great song. There's one common thread to all the music I like: it's centered around vocals. Instruments are supposed to take you where you are going, not be the destination. (Exceptions: Jim Brickman, and my respect for Metallica, though I don't own any of their music.) Anyway, getting back to Deborah Cox, her best song (so far) has to be "Where Do We Go From Here?" If you listen to it, I think her way of singing the verses sounds like Diana Ross. The chorus is unremarkable, but it does its job, so that Deborah can improvise over the top of it. This improvisation of repeating a few words from the chorus emotively is a distinct feature of this genre, whatever it is. I think it might be borrowed from gospel music, but frankly I haven't heard enough gospel to say. In any case, I'm glad I found some new (old) music to enjoy.