Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Good Job, Kenny

Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds won another Grammy for Best R&B Album for his collaborative concept album with Toni Braxton, "Love, Marriage, And Divorce." It's sad. But it's smooth, man. Toni hasn't lost anything. And with Babyface, you know what you're going to get: clean, chorus-driven pop that has at least as a 41.7 percent chance of being a game-changing song in any one case.

I know it was a hipster Grammy, but you can't go wrong with Babyface.

I think we're in a sentimental, romantic mood these days, as evidenced by the rise of John Legend, and that's fine by me.

In 2008, Usher did a song called, "Here I Stand," a deeply romantic ballad about permanence. They didn't even release it as a single, and it hit the top 20 because of radio airplay. Record labels, take note.


Unknown said...

JK, Statistics aside, what do you mean by a Babyface penned tune having "a 41.7 percent chance of being a game-changing song"?

Jason said...

Amos, I would say that nearly all Babyface songs are what the critics call, "pleasurable filler." (Which is the closest thing music critics come to a compliment.) His best songs make careers, and become signatures.

Unknown said...

I just looked through his Wiki page. (This is just a disclaimer that I'm not that knowledge about Babyface trivia.)

I think it's fair to say that he made careers for TLC, Usher, Toni Braxton, and After 7. He also helped take a number of artists to the next level, including Boyz II Men, Tevin Campbell, and Mary J. Blige.

But I don't think you can say that he built the careers of artists like Whitney, MJ, Clapton, Mariah, Vanessa Williams, Paula Abdul, Phil Collins, K-Ci & JoJo, Madonna, or Barbara Striesand - even though he may have written/produced one or two chart toppers for them. Many of those artists have been around for a while and have worked with numerous song-writer/producers, including Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Q, Jimmy Jam, R. Kelly, Dre, and P. Diddy Kong - or whatever he goes by now.

I'm not trying disrespect Mr. Edmonds. I just don't think he's R&B's King Midas.

Jason said...

Without Babyface, Whitney's career is a decade shorter, and she was a headlining star in 3 movies whose soundtracks were written by him.

Madonna's most commercially-successful song belongs to him. And the timing...let's just say she doesn't even release Ray of Light, or appear on the soundtrack of Austin Powers without that momentum.

We've never heard of Dru Hill without him. Not to mention Jon B. The impact is more massive than it appears.

Unknown said...

JK, Are you trying to pick a fight? Is that what this is about?

According to Wikipedia (three words that may bite me), Dru Hill had their commercial breakthrough and first number one hit before they met Babyface.

Whitney already had seven number one hits from her first two records, before she ever worked with Babyface. And I argue vehemently that the movie The Bodyguard and its feature song "I Will Always Love You" (that Babyface had nothing to do with) is what put her back on top. Babyface, who wrote almost the whole Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, simply utilized her popularity. To his credit, he did extended it by giving her her final chart topping hit in "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)", but that's about it.

As for Madonna, according to Billboard, her most successful song (based on charting) is "Like A Virgin"; another site lists her most commercially successful song as "Into the Groove". Kenny Edmonds was not involved in either of those. I think she's still touring for the same reason that Howard Stern's radio show is syndicated: vulgarity mixed with sex sells.

You are right about Jon B., though. Babyface was heavily involved in Jon's first album.