10 Best R&B Songs of 2013
Theo Wargo/Jason Merritt/Ethan Miller, Getty Images
By Amber McKynzie
With hundreds of R&B radio-ready tunes that surfaced throughout the year, there was a select few that found their way to the top of the charts — survival of the fittest doesn’t just exist with people. From Miguel to the Weeknd, mellifluous artists have been pitted against each other for Best Song of the Year, Best Song of the Summer and at every awards shows you can think of, but the end of the year is here and it’s time to declare 2013′s best.
With Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, take a look at the 10 Best R&B Songs of 2013.
Robin Thicke and his musical cohorts may have endured a few legal issues with this track, but sampling — or just being inspired by a classic hit — these days always comes with some blurred lines.
Robin, T.I. and Pharrell found themselves nominated for Song of the Summer, MTV’s newest VMAs category, so they knew they were doing something right. When this track comes on, it’s the only time good girls, hot girls and anything in between can come together and just let loose — at least for the four minutes and 32 seconds the track plays.
‘Suit & Tie’
After seven years of lyrical silence, Justin Timberlake made his way back to the studio, ready to please fans with his tender vocals after being gone from the music spotlight for seven years.
While J.T. and Jay Z may not have been able to get a collabo popping in the past, it’s clear good things come to those who wait. Timberlake and Carter just sat back and watched as their ‘Suit & Tie’ hit went two-times platinum and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. After years of waiting, there’s nothing better than an accomplishment like that.
It’s not hard to pick out a Pharrell Williams track on a first listen, and there’s good reason for that. And when it comes to Daft Punk, well, who doesn’t love the French?
A retro style, electronic dance record with smooth vocals from the Virgina-bred Renaissance man himself makes for one very good song. And the throwback music video, which features Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Thomas Bangalter, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers jamming out, simply helps bring the song to life.
‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’
When it comes to music videos, Drake never seems to disappoint. The Toronto native has a creative concept for every track he tries to give life, and the ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home’ visuals took the song to another level as he saved his beautiful damsel in distress.
But the reason this song sits on our 10 Best R&B Songs of 2013 list is due to the fact that the rapper does a phenomenal job of singing on this tender love song. “Just hold on, we’re going home / It’s hard to do these things alone,” Drake sings over the melodic beat, which features vocals from his OVO-signed group, Majid Jordan. This is one record that will be played at proms and welcome back parties for years to come.
Chris Brown made sure to return to his R&B roots when he began crafting his sixth studio album, ‘X.’ From the sounds of ‘Fine China,’ he’s ditched the EDM sounds of his past efforts to focus on a song that recalls the golden era of Michael Jackson. “It’s alright, I’m not dangerous / When you’re mine, I’ll be generous / You’re irreplaceable / A collectible / Just like fine china,” he croons.
This retro-flavored love ode was co-written by Brown, Leon “RoccStar” Youngblood Jr., Sevyn Streeter and Eric Bellinger. RoccStar and PK produced the jam, which has hit the No. 3 spot on the Billboard R&B Songs chart.
When Ciara released ‘Ride’ in 2010, every woman was trying to learn the strip tease dance the singer performed in the video, and no man could find a way to keep their mouth closed after watching her sensual moves. So when ‘Body Party’ dropped, it was no surprise to see fans going crazy all over again.
Sampling Ghost Town DJ’s 1996 track, ‘My Boo,’ Ciara finds a new way to help people get their freak on with a body party. But the party’s only made for two. “My body is your party, baby / Nobody’s invited but you, baby,” she coos.
When it comes to this seductive songstress, she can never go wrong with a metaphorical sex track.
Seemingly named after a brand of cognac, K. Michelle’s ‘V.S.O.P.’ proved the girl from Memphis could craft a love song that resonated with fans. On the soulful Pop & Oak-produced track, the ‘Love & Hip Hop’ star exercises her vocal range and shows her naysayers she’s more than what the eyes see — her voluptuous backside. And with her own twist, K. turns this “baby, come home” ode into an updated ‘Cater 2 U’ — with samples from Debra Laws’ ‘Very Special’ (1981) and the Chi-Lites’ ‘That’s How Long’ (1974) — as she tells her man exactly what’s gonna go down when he gets home.
With an eclectic mix of falsetto vocals and a moody sound lined with snare drums, the Weeknd delivered the perfect end-of-summer single and a song fit for friendship with ‘Live For,’ off his debut LP, ‘Kiss Land.’
“Living dream we could never afford / Now we sittin’ in the back sayin’ / This the s— that I live for / This the s— that I live for / This the s— that I live for / With the people I die for,” he croons. It’s easy to look at this track as the legato version of Drake’s ‘Started From the Bottom.’
The Weeknd and his boys didn’t have a lot before, but now that they’ve made it, they’re living the dream together. And just like Drizzy’s anthem, OVO fans can’t seem to stop bumping the track.
‘How Many Drinks?’
It’s been six years since R&B enthusiasts got a good ‘Buy You a Drank’-kind of club banger. And since T-Pain’s 2007 single was a hit, Miguel just helped history repeat itself. “How many drinks would it take you to leave with me? / Yeah, you look good and I got money / But I don’t wanna waste my time / Back of my mind I’m hopin’ you say two or three,” he sings.
Appearing on his sophomore LP, ‘Kaleidoscope Dream,’ the sexy tune welcomed some hip-hop flavor with the addition of Kendrick Lamar on the remix. Plus, the song reached No. 7 on Billboard’s R&B Songs chart, which proves it only takes two or three drinks to find yourself on top.
‘I Luv This S—‘
August Alsina is like a new age R. Kelly, only a bit raunchier — if that’s even possible. And it’s clear that the fans, especially the ladies, love him. The singer is one of very few artists to make a debut with a No. 1 single, ‘I Luv This S—,’ and he did it all without a major label behind him. However, it did help lead a major label to his front door — Def Jam, to be exact. The additions of Birdman, Trey Songz and Chris Brown on various remixes helped raise his popularity too.
Sitting with more than 10 million YouTube views for the song’s visuals, August is making his way up the music ladder. With the help of a bass-heavy beat, the 21-year-old New Orleans native makes it a point to let fans know he’s certainly no “bitch n—-,” and he enjoys some good drink and smoke to top it all off.