Impact’s Music Essentials: 2010s R&B

Daria Paterek

R&B is a genre that has always been around, originating in the 40s, yet not many of us consider ourselves avid R&B listeners. Daria Paterek aims to change that with her list of the top 10 R&B songs that debuted in the 2010s.

Touch & Go – Tinashe & 6LACK

Tinashe has been an important yet underrated artist in R&B for almost a decade now. She was the first R&B artist that I started listening to regularly, and I have been following her journey as an artist since the release of her 2018 album ‘Joyride. Despite being known for her song 2 On, her first independent album ‘Songs For You’ showcases her abilities as a vocalist, writer, and producer. The song describes a rocky relationship and is a smooth track with chilled production. The violin solo during the outro uplifts the song and places it on my list of top three songs on ‘Songs For You’.

CPR – Summer Walker

Possibly the most intimate song on this list, Summer Walker’s CPR is raw, emotional, yet calming. The track is a metaphor for a romantic partner, as Summer describes their love bringing her back to life, despite previously feeling misunderstood, alone, and suicidal. The song highlights the elements that truly make Summer Walker unique in the music industry. Her ability to beautifully express her feelings and her minimal yet impactful production.

Rule The World – 2 Chainz & Ariana Grande

Despite not being commercially successful, the track has all the elements which make R&B tracks successful. Beautiful vocals (sang by Ariana Grande, who many agree should venture more into the R&B world), thoughtful lyrics, and samples of earlier R&B songs, in this case, Why Don’t We Fall in Love by Amerie. To this day, I am confused about its low reception.

Versace On The Floor – Bruno Mars

Slow-paced and sensual, Versace On The Floor demonstrates Bruno Mars’ ability to adapt and successfully develop as an artist. A change of tune compared to 24k Magic, the song shows Mars’ more romantic and intimate side.

Garden (Say It Like Dat) – SZA

Despite SZA’s other singles The Weekend and Love Galore gathering more attention, I believe Garden (Say It Like Dat) is the best song off of ‘CTRL’ (SZA’s debut album). My interpretation of Garden (Say It Like Dat) is that the song questions whether one is truly worthy of love. Hard-hitting and emotionally vulnerable, it is one of SZA’s most iconic songs. 

Finders Keepers – Mabel & Kojo Funds

Before she transitioned to pop, Mabel made a name for herself in the R&B world with titles such as Bedroom and Ride or Die. Reminiscent of better times, Finders Keepers explores living in the moment rather than overthinking. The majority of the comments under the YouTube video express their longing for ‘Old Mabel’ and her R&B roots, which undoubtedly made her the star she is today. 

Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

Can’t Feel My Face catalysed The Weeknd’s career and led him to be compared to icons such as Michael Jackson. Personifying drug addiction, the song was my musical highlight of 2015. 

Come Thru – Summer Walker & Usher

What makes many R&B songs sound simultaneously fresh and nostalgic is the integration of older beats and elements with newer ideas. Summer Walker and Usher do this perfectly in Come ThruCome Thru samples Usher’s 1997 song You Make Me Wanna, yet the song masters the balance between sampling and innovating. Summer’s smooth voice adds femininity and softness to the track, and Usher brings a new verse while signalling to the original. Come Thru (alongside all the songs on the album) make me wonder, will Summer Walker ever bring out an album that will top ‘Over It’? 

Young, Dumb & Broke – Khalid

A title that describes all of us students right now. On this track, Khalid encompasses the experiences of young people in finding both love and themselves. Khalid asks the question that many students are asking themselves- “What’s fun about commitment?”, as he explores being able to commit mistakes while we are still “young” and “dumb”. 

Scream – Usher

Usher is known for his club classics Yeah and DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love. Yet Scream, in my opinion, is one of Usher’s best songs. Fast-paced, well-produced, and fun, the song is both a club and a summer classic. 

Listen to these songs (plus more!) on this playlist:

Daria Paterek

Featured image courtesy of Harmony Gerber via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article videos courtesy of Tinashe, Summer Walker, 2 Chainz, Bruno Mars, SZA, Mabel, The Weeknd, Khalid and Usher via youtube.com. No changes were made to these videos.

In-article playlist courtesy of impactmagmusic via spotify.com. No changes were made to this image.

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