As Jason Derulo (above), Pharrell Williams and John Legend do their part to showcase R&B’s varying facets, Billboard have showered praise on Beyonce this week, celebrating the role she’s played in its ‘Hot 100‘ revival!
Indeed, after the genre rocked the competitive chart this week, the company took to Billboard Biz to weigh in on its long-awaited comeback, assessing the renewed interest it’s currently receiving from the American general public.
Their accurate take on the matter below…
An excerpt from “Ross On Radio: An R&B Comeback” reads…
“Thank Beyoncé: When she reasserted herself in pop culture, mainstream top 40 wanted to be there. And for that . . .
Thank R&B Radio: Because in the five years since “Sweet Dreams,” Beyoncé had remained a consistent hitmaker at R&B and hip-hop radio. (The most-played song on New York’s WQHT [Hot 97] through much of the fall had been “Standing On The Sun,” which wasn’t even included on the subsequent album.) R&B radio may not seem to send a lot of product over to pop radio, but they absolutely deserve credit for the potency of Beyoncé’s December surprise. And, for the second time with a Beyoncé album, it’s the R&B radio track, not the initial pop track, “XO,” that is turning out to be the hit.
Sobczuk may be too generous in one way. The echoes of the 1980-81 disco backlash are hardly silenced now. Even then, there were still a few R&B hits. There were MOR ballads like Quincy Jones & James Ingram’s “Just Once.” There were the girl-group throwback hits of the Pointer Sisters. There were “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, whose own reigning diva status had just been reclaimed by her association with Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.
All of those songs have echoes now, although I feel confident that the “Happy” version of retro will endure better through time than the Pointers’ “Should I Do It.” If it’s more recent comparisons you want, try the late ’90s (a time when R&B crossover was rapidly expanding). We now have a successor to Brian McKnight’s “Back At One” on the charts, but no “Too Close” by Next.
In other words, R&B needed this handful of force-of-nature, undeniably mass-appeal songs to even achieve parity with the leanest years of the disco backlash. Unlike those years, when R&B’s product was superior to top 40 and pop PDs ignored “Rapper’s Delight,” Rick James and the Gap Band, it’s sometimes hard to say what other R&B songs ought to be making the transition. It is nice to know that at this point the door might be open again for whatever else emerges.”