Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Turn the music up in here

If someone asked me what I thought of Ne-Yo, my quick, off the top of my head response would be that he's one of the American acts whose singles I most look forward to hearing. If I thought about it a little more, that's probably not entirely accurate for a couple of reasons: first, I do enjoy him on more than just a singles level since, even though I've never heard a full album from him, I do have a few album tracks from him that I really like; and second, I haven't actually loved every single from him--"Hate How Much I Love You" was fine but even before it was played constantly I never loved it, I've never played "Go On Girl," I don't remember what "Do You" sounds like, and I was pretty anti-"When You're Mad" when it first came out (though I imagine I'd have warmed towards it now).

That instinctual response about his music, though, means that I was more than interested to hear the lead single for his next album (Year Of The Gentleman, due out June 24, making it the third in less than two and a half years) and, though so far I'm not sure if I love it quite as much as I love "Because Of You" (it's a definite possibility, though), "Closer" is likely to further my gratefulness that we've got Ne-Yo around.


Try not to get too excited about those first fifteen seconds, which make it sound like we're going to get an epic dance track--the song quickly morphs into something a little closer to the Ne-Yo we're familiar with. That doesn't mean it's not a change from his older hits, though: those opening fifteen seconds end up filtering in throughout the song and, combined with that beat, "Closer" ends up being the most...propulsive single we've heard from him yet. We've still got the acoustic guitar touches and a sweet vocal melody, but they've been melded with a backing track that could easily be used for a dance or disco song. The end result is lovely and, even if it's maybe not quite as exciting as it would've been if it was all in the style of that opening, Ne-Yo's struck open yet another gem of a melody that might make for an even more loveable song than that imaginary all-dancefloor alternative.

"Closer" is also particularly welcome because it marks a move on the part of Stargate, the producers, away from the "Irreplaceable" template they've been excessively recycling recently; "Closer" isn't a full-on male version of Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music" (it's maybe a cousin of it--that dance beat underneath is definitely related, but the vocal melody and guitar part differentiate it and take it back more towards the world of pop) but it does show that the duo still has more up their sleeves than just strummy half-ballads.

Ne-Yo's third album, Year Of The Gentleman, is not yet available for preorder, but you can buy his second album, Because Of You, here (physical) or here (digital).

(Yes, I realize this song has been "out" for a while, but I wanted to live with it first before I wrote anything about it.)

Next up: another male American singer with an album coming out in a few months.


D'luv said...

I got kind of excited about "closer" when I heard it last month on one of those fanmade YouTube clips... that feeling lasted for about 5 minutes, till I surfed over to another site and forgot all about it. But it'll still be a great song to hear on the radio.. wait, I haven't listened to radio in years. Well, anyway, good luck, Ne-Yo!

Poster Girl said...

D'luv, Ne-Yo is upset by your fickleness, I'm sure. Expect a harp-punctuated R&B-pop song with a kicky drumbeat, strummy guitars, and a catchy vocal hook about how you've hurt him when he releases his next album in another nine months.

D'luv said...

And if he rapidly twirls in the video as he did in the one for "Because Of You," I just might give him my autograph.

Stu said...

I am a little late, but good god - that is ace. I forget about Ne-Yo until I hear a single...then I love that song, buy the album, and never listen to it....oops.

Poster Girl said...

It's never too late to realize how great a song is! ;) It really is--and you're a few steps ahead of me on Ne-Yo; I've never bought a full album of his. I wonder if he'll "pull a Rihanna" this time around and after being known mainly for singles release a third album that the online pop circles really like?