Beyonce: Best thing I never had
This is (I’m told!) a recent example of R’n’B music, released in 2011. It’s in 4/4 time and a major key, written for piano, vocals, drums, guitars and synthesized strings. I’m not sure what particularly distinguishes it as R’n’B – it seems like fairly vanilla pop music to me, although the piano part perhaps shows a very slight jazz influence? An extremely unexciting song I’m afraid!
Destiny’s Child: Survivor
This is a slightly earlier song, released in 2001. I think it is musically much more imaginative than the Beyoncé song (if still a little repetitive) – it’s in a minor key, and has a syncopated bass line as well as a catchy instrumental intro with off beat accents. The vocals are also quite characteristic, often sounding improvised and using close harmony in places.
Mary J Blige: Family Affair
Released in the same year as ‘Survivor’, this song definitely has a similar sound – the vocals sound equally improvised and give it what I think is the characteristic R’n’B feel. The drums and bass are very key to this song – it’s a simple but driving bass line which carries it along. The lyrics also use quite a lot of rhyme, often tying in with the key points in the bass line.
Contemporary R’n’B has evolved from a mix of several genres, including the soul music of the 1970s which is a genre I quite enjoy. These influences are evident in some of this music, with an emphasis on rhythm and bass lines. Although I tend to prefer the earlier era, this style can definitely create some catchy songs.