The 1998 R&B Albums Rate (Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Brandy and Monica): WINNER REVEALED!

Which of these artists' followups do you like the most?

  • Brandy - Full Moon

  • Monica - After The Storm

  • Lauryn Hill - MTV Unplugged No. 2.0

  • Whitney Houston - Just Whitney...


Results are only viewable after voting.

londonrain

Staff member
The thread title is very "when @Mina and/or @Empty Shoebox join a rate". In this case, "it" being the average.
And yet I don’t think the rate villain this time around is either of them.

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londonrain

Staff member
Time for another elimination. After some of the high scores I've lost, perhaps it's time we get rid of one of my low scores.








This time it's a single from yet another artist who has already lost a song.










I can't say I feel bad about it, though.















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#72. Friend of Mine
Average: 6.274
Highest score: 9.5 x 1 (@berserkboi)
Lowest score: 0 x 1 (@Empty Shoebox)
Chart positions: #12 US, #1 US R&B
My score: 4​

Our first lead single leaves us, and it’s the right one. Kelly loses her debut single and her biggest hit to date, as her impassioned tale of a husband who cheated on her with her best friend crashes out at #72. If even one person in this rate had increased their score by 0.4 it would have been in the top 70, which is impressive given some of the songs that have left already. Mind you, it was probably saved by the fact that people were able to rate the album version instead of the single remix.

There are a number of songs in this rate which have remixes that add something new or interesting to them. This one… does not. R. Kelly decided to give us his umpteenth iteration of the “adultery soap opera” genre with his remix of this song, in which Ronald Isley (aka Mr. Biggs of The Isley Brothers) is cast as Kelly Price’s godfather listening to her problems. Mr. Biggs then insists that Kelly ring her cheating husband (played by R. Kelly) on a three-way call so that Mr. Biggs can berate him for his infidelity. The result is a song robbed of its structure and its heart… and its focus on Kelly’s actual problem, which is her feeling betrayed by her friend. The remix makes it all about the two men in the equation and Kelly gets relegated to a supporting part in her own song, singing terrible lyrics like “She was a leaf in your life but I was the root to your tree” which were mercifully absent in the album version.

Somehow this song was actually a smash, making it to #12 on the Hot 100 (Kelly’s only top 40 hit on that chart) and #1 on the US R&B chart (Kelly’s only top 10 hit on that chart), so I guess the formula worked, but in retrospect I’m just so damn tired of this repeated formula. R. Kelly and Mr. Biggs already used this format in R. Kelly’s hit Down Low (Nobody Has To Know) in 1996, and went on to repeat it in 2001 with The Isley Brothers’ hit Contagious. This isn’t even that far off from the Sparkle song Be Careful I mentioned earlier, which was from the same year as Friend of Mine!

@WowWowWowWow gave the album version an 8, but echoes my sentiments on the remix (“way to take everything that was good about the song and remove it”) and @Angeleyes (6) agrees: “Prefer the main version over whatever that remix is.”

@Trouble in Paradise (8.5) elaborates further: “The vocals are outta control in the original version so rich and full. You really feel the gospel inspiration in the backing vocals and Ms Price sells the verses. However, the remix is truly unlistenable.”

@Mina (5) makes an interesting comparison: “Hello, '90s R&B Taylor Swift with less passive-aggressive lyrics. 5 points because I listened to the version without R. Kelly.”

Let’s end with @berserkboi (9.5), who is rather ambiguous about the kind of “setup” he means: “I am not usually a fan of this sort of set up but Kelly certainly sells the heck out of it!”





Let me know if you can tell the difference.



Actually, don't bother. Just listen to the album version and forget the remix ever existed.

 
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londonrain

Staff member
Yeah, my 8 was definitely for the album version. I couldn't get through the remix.
Imagine if I’d actually insisted that everyone rate the remix and not the album version. We’d be setting new records for the lowest average score (although maybe @Sprockrooster would have saved it from a perfect 0 average.)

I find it particularly odd that a song about a woman mourning her friend’s betrayal was remixed to make it all about the men - one of whom literally has nothing to do with the situation except for being her godfather.
 
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londonrain

Staff member
Well, that’s one thing the remix has going for it - it puts the blame squarely on the husband and makes it clear that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The album version is vastly superior both in vocals and song structure, though. Her voice is in great form here.
 
Imagine if I’d actually insisted that everyone rate the remix and not the album version. We’d be setting new records for the lowest average score (although maybe @Sprockrooster would have saved it from a perfect 0 average.)

I find it particularly odd that a song about woman mourning her friend’s betrayal was remixed to make it all about the men - one of whom literally has nothing to do with the situation except for being her godfather.
Contagious is a problematic fave indeed. But in a rate I am not sure if I would score it high, but a 0 it would not be.
 

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