Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: Mary J. Blige doing "I Feel Good"

Basically this is a Ne-Yo song sung by Mary J. Blige. Great idea, if you ask me, since Ne-Yo and his regular production partners Stargate were my favorite musicians to emerge last decade. (I think. Unless the White Stripes count.) Mary J. even seems to imitate Ne-Yo's singing style in this song--her voice is smooth and restrained, but she throws in little vibrato quavers at the end of each line. Maybe this approach is simply endemic to Ne-Yo songs, encoded in the way they're written. Have a listen:

Ne-Yo, in turn, seems to have picked up this style from Michael Jackson's softer side, particularly the song "Human Nature." In fact, I hear much of his/Stargate's catalog as teasing out the implications of "Human Nature"--the music, not the words. The beats may be different, but the singing always comes from MJ.

And then there's the chord progressions! "Human Nature" provides a wealth of unusually beautiful chord progressions to play with. This particular song, "I Feel Good," explores the way "Human Nature" centers around a minor ii chord ("does hedoitthat way..."). Ne-Yo's own "When You're Mad" plays with the keyboard riff's IV/V/flat-III-Maj7/IV progression. "Sexy Love" takes up the IV/V/I6/IV from the verses. Um, I'm pretty sure there are others that I won't analyze today. Not bad for a song written by Steve Porcaro, aka "One of the Guys from Toto"! (Maybe "Human Nature" is just teasing out the implications of "Africa" or something. The thought gives me pause.) Anyway, I won't post all that stuff cause who knows what four Youtube embeds would do to your computer, but go to Youtube! Go on! All these songs are there! Trust me, you'll feel good.

No comments: