Daily Archives: January 30, 2012

Where is the Love?

Sing it, David! Sigh. I miss me some Soul David, not gonna lie! 😛

One of the things about the passing of a singing star from yesteryear – as with the case of Etta James, whose funeral was held this past Sunday – is that you do a nice soul music trip down memory lane. And you wind up listening to gems like her bluesy I’d Rather Go Blind or the laid back Sunday Kind of Love.  And you realize how you really miss something as simple as a love song.

Even before this opportunity to revisit real music, I remember coming across an article on CNN back in December, asking: Where is the love in R&B music?  We’re not talking about that electronic nonsense, in which today’s youth croon (if you can call it that) to some poor unsuspecting, naive young gal about how she would look better with the lights off (how insulting!) or that he just needs a quickie (seriously! No romancing or courting, just get to the point? What is this porn culture coming to?). When I talk real soul music, I’m talking about folks like Otis Redding or Earth Wind and Fire or Barry White or Stevie Wonder singing like they know how to court a woman, not just bed her.  Sure, the bedding always came later (that’s why these songs are affectionately called “baby-making” songs).  But what always, always came first was the LOVE.  Or what Michael Jackson used to always say about music: do it with L.O.V.E.

The men singing these days leave so much to be desired since I do not feel or hear any L.O.V.E.

Not that the women are any better.  If Rihanna isn’t singing from a dark place (as much as I love the techno beat and play this on repeat, I still cringe at the nihilism expressed in this “love story”), or if Lady Gaga isn’t caught up in a narcissistic love affair, then newcomers like Lana Del Rey (as I mentioned in the previous post) offer cynical songs that sound like they’re stoned because they’re so unfulfilled in their love life.  And do I need to mention the sappy fluff coming from the likes of Justin Bieber?

Revisiting the music of Etta James, Otis, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Chaka Khan, Rick James and Teena Marie, Anita Baker, etc. reminded me what is missing in today’s music. It’s not just a question of “where is the love?” It’s more like: Where is the love between a grown woman and a grown man? It’s all so juvenile the music offerings.

And yes, I hear more grown-a$$ love in 10-year-old Michael Jackson singing “Who’s Loving You?” with the Jackson 5 than I hear in any of these new pop songs of late.  It’s why, more than anything that came from David’s time with Jive, the great failure for me is their lack of development of David as a “soulful soul” singer, balladeer. A genuine CROONER (see above video).

You know what I’m talking about.  Forget his inexperience in the love department and think about how he could always bring it on a song, especially on a ballad.  He raises his voice in song, and he raises the hair on my arms and my body temperature with one smooth falsetto.  With a roll of his r’s and the curl of his tongue, with the smooth-as-butter melisma in the Voice and the effortless glory note only David can deliver as unexpected highs, I’m so in another place.  Love. L.O.V.E. That’s what I’m talking about!

But of course, in this vast musical wasteland called electronic hip-hop pop, we don’t get any love, and David’s style of singing is labeled “outdated” (seriously?!). No wonder David is taking a “break.” Let’s hope when he returns two years from now, the musical landscape would have changed, and a new generation is ready to hear some grown love expressed in the best “soulful soul” that the likes of David can produce. Let’s hope David is in a different place where he’ll be all too eager to fill this void.