Monday, September 20th, 2010

Ne-Yo – Champagne Life

He, of course, has always known what you like…


Michaelangelo Matos: He’s my favorite because he likes everyday detail, but here he announces his escapist intent right off the bat, and what do you know: he’s good at it. Though in this case it seems like the track is carrying the song rather than the other way around.

Alfred Soto: I’d rather the strings carried the burden of the melody instead of Ne’s vocals, but the hook is nothing to speak of anyway.

Al Shipley: It’s probably not all that rare for a single artist’s output to drop so drastically from the heights of “Closer” and “Miss Independent” in one album cycle to shit like this and “Beautiful Monster” in the next. But it usually doesn’t happen to someone who writes his own material and generally seems to have good taste. What happened to Ne-Yo?

Rodney J. Greene: It may not be the culmination of all things Ne-Yo, but he sounds absolutely giddy here, against a background as dizzy and fizzy as the title would imply. The only thing tethering the constant ascent of the strings is that cracking snare. There’s a palpable sense of opportunity about the whole thing that is contagious, as if this is barely the start, a remarkable outlook for an artist on his fourth album who may have already peaked. Screw Ke$ha, this is what makes me feel like P. Diddy.

Chuck Eddy: Less gorgeous than his single norm, but gorgeous enough, and he even makes tiny bubble sounds with his mouth, to match the bubbly. So, pleasingly opulent, as far as the sound goes. Still docked a point, though, because bragging about being rich during this recession is really gross. Especially when the odds favor his tax cut being extended.

Martin Skidmore: If you want a heir to Michael Jackson, you could do far worse than Ne-Yo. This doesn’t strike me as one of his strongest songs, and the production is smooth but uninteresting. Nonetheless, his singing is immensely effective, and there is a sunny positivity to this that is hard to resist.

John Seroff: If Michael had made it through the This Is It tour, one assumes he would’ve bought “Champagne Life” for his inevitable brand relaunch album. Is it heretical to suggest that very late era MJ might not have given us as nice a rendition as Ne-Yo does here? My only major quibble is with Ne-Yo’s incessant and unnecessary nattering; someone should tell Mr. GQ that being the hype man on your own track is hella gauche. Even so, “Champagne” is a light, sweet, sparkling, purely enjoyable late Summer vintage, miles ahead of “Beautiful Monster”.

Katherine St Asaph: I’m a bit stunned the Libra Scale singles aren’t crossing over more, but if “Beautiful Monster” didn’t blow up (at least not here), this probably won’t do it either. It’s too restrained, content to drift along on its steady beat. A shame; Ne-Yo’s in fine vocal form as usual, and the shifting chords here are gorgeous. Let’s see this prove me wrong.

3 Responses to “Ne-Yo – Champagne Life”

  1. i was gonna write up this song but i couldn’t put into words why i dislike it so much

    i will say that rodney actually made a good case for it — this makes me feel like p. diddy — but i still think it’s the worst

    there’s just something… so chintzy about it — like it has that stargate shuffle but it’s not nearly as good as an actual stargate song — it’s like a million little flute glasses clinking — blech

  2. “it’s like a million little flute glasses clinking”

    This is precisely why I love it.

  3. “If you want a heir to Michael Jackson, you could do far worse than Ne-Yo.”

    I don’t think so. The only remotely plausible heir to Michael Jackson, although they’re sort of polar opposites, is R. Kelly, because key to Jackson’s appeal and greatness is that he was nuts (as is Kelly, albeit in a totally different, lower-grade, extrovert/pervert way). Ne-Yo is a nice guy who sings nice songs about nice independent women, the nice time he has on his nice yacht, and then yeah, occasionally we get some darker moments like Beautiful Monster, but even there he seems totally in control and quite sane. Even if you say, “well I only mean Off the Wall Jackson, or the benign half of Thriller Jackson,” I don’t think the comparison between him and anyone – Usher, Timberlake, Ne-Yo, shit, The Dream – holds because then too, his work was so much more emotive than any r&b/pop guy you hear today, only that then his stuff was ecstatic, beatific, rather than paranoid, bitter, delusive, and egomaniacal. The predominant emotion I get out of Usher or Ne-Yo is actually a sense of pride in their craft; Usher in particular has this annoying habit of saying “yeahhhh man” in every one of his singles like, “that’s right, folks, another hit. There’s no commitment to the words they sing. If you gave Michael Jackson this song, he’d turn it into this crazed paean to living the life of Peter Pan in Neverland; if you gave R. Kelly this song, it’d be a lot more conventional but you’d still get the sense that he was having enormous fun. Imagine how much more sincerely he would do the ridiculous ad-libs about the irregular way they clap in Champagne Lifeland.