Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

R Kelly ft. Keri Hilson – Number 1

Now Tinchy’s lifted the hoodoo on songs accurately predicting their chart positions, it’s basically open season…


Al Shipley: Rappers and R&B singers have been interacting with vocal samples and finding clever ways to make them finish their sentences for about a decade now, which is why there’s no excuse for building a song around a phrase as awkward as “This is number one sex that we’re havin’ here.”

Jonathan Bradley: Having launched spaceships, cooked vegetables, driven his car, toured the zoo, visited a Hershey’s production plant and jumped into the boxing ring, he’s now turned his attention to making a hit record. “Number One” is most aptly an ode not to a woman but to The-Dream, the up-and-coming challenger to Kelly’s R&B throne. The vocal gimmicks — words slowed, slight shifts in tone, backing cries of “eh”! — are trademark Terius Nash, as is the soft floating quality of the lead vocal. The-Dream, who had nothing to do with this track, is a respectable artist to pay homage to, and if anything, Kelly is returning the tribute of “Kelly’s 12 Play,” a song on Nash’s Love vs Money record. But it’s a poor look for a veteran to so consciously be aping a younger talent’s style, even if he can reproduce it excellently.

Melissa Bradshaw: Despite — or maybe because of — the shifting synths and the soaring auto-tune, I am unconvinced that they are actually having amazing sex.

Alfred Soto: Whenever those basso voices interject “This is Number One!” I imagine the singers pointing at Kelly’s wilted dick.

Kat Stevens: I don’t for a minute believe that R Kelly has done Keri Hilson up the bum (though I suppose if she had shagged him in the kitchen it would be easier to mop up afterwards), but the “that’s how you made me a chocoholic” line is just too good not to win Best Use Of Bumsex Innuendo In Popular Song 2009 (look, it might well be a reference to “little Robert” but bumsex is JUST BETTER). I mean, R clearly thought it was so good that he didn’t need much effort put into the metaphors for the rest of the song. “Having sex with you is like making hits” — actually, thinking of R Kelly’s quality of hits, that must be some prime shagging right there.

Anthony Easton: R Kelly’s sex mixes have their own pleasures (though these are mostly textual, I doubt that people use this like Marvin Gaye). It has some of the expected nimble word play, but the rampant heterosexual-ism built on camp and excess, the rococo flourishes of work like “Zoo” or “Sex Planet”, are absent, and so what is left is ego for its own sake.

Michaelangelo Matos: His catalog gets spottier as his persona becomes his mania. This track contains individual moments that I enjoy enormously: Keri’s verse is the warmest singing I’ve heard from her, and the “and I love it (ooh-ooh)” x 4 in R.’s next verse, mirrored in the one after that with “whoo, whee, you and me,” have a bold watercolor delicacy. The Autotune on this is utilized in a lovely way, too. But there’s an awful lot of self-repetition here, and while it’s easy to imagine this growing richer over time as an example of that tendency, right now it’s pretty reistable.

Hillary Brown: While this doesn’t ever get up into the stratospheric levels of greatness or weirdness of which Kells is capable, it does remind us how pretty he can make his voice, as well as how committed in general he is to making music.

Martin Skidmore: I’ve gradually grown into a big fan of Kells, but I am less thrilled by this. The heavy vocal title overlay is annoying, as is the autotuning on Kelly’s voice. It’s a slow jam that doesn’t do a lot, and Keri isn’t involved enough. Disappointing.

Erick Bieritz: These two extremely talented singers take themselves far too seriously for the unintentionally comical chorus injection of the title phrase, meant to sound like a radio announcer presaging the song’s chart rank but coming off more like a demolition derby PA man stumbling into Kelly’s copulation brag session. The vocal chops on display are impressive even in a weak song, but this feels more like a number 63 peak than the triumphant chart-topper Rorbert wanted.

Anthony Miccio: This is such luscious swagger-pop (with just enough absurdity – what’s that about a trenchcoat?) that I don’t think my muted reaction can be chalked up to my desire for him to record novelties like “Sex Sports Equipment Store” 24/7. The real problem is that aggressive autotune is a distancing effect on familiar singers, especially those with pipes as convincing as Kells’. His career will likely outlive the trend, but I can’t see him recording another classic until it passes.

6 Responses to “R Kelly ft. Keri Hilson – Number 1”

  1. Hello everyone yes I am twelve years old etc.

    Srsly though guys, this is well awesome. Ooo-ooo-ooo-wooo, and-a weee-eee-eee-eeee…

  2. “Kelly is returning the tribute of ‘Kelly’s 12 Play,'”

    he basically quotes the song in the first verse

  3. hilson’s presence in this song basically means i can’t take it seriously at all even tho it’s pretty good

  4. Actually this isn’t quite as good as ‘Same Girl’ (you know, the one where him and Usher are dating twins). Perhaps it should be an 8.

  5. The twins twist was part of the video, but the song was just about dating the same girl. I am adamant about this.

    Don’t undestand what Jordan means about Hilson’s presence.

  6. I think he misspelled “Trey Songz”, Al.