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Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat

Remember the days when R&B and hip hop was the sound of pop? From the ‘90s to the mid ‘00s, music’s most dependable hitmakersMariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men, R. Kelly, Usher, Brandy, Monica, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, among themspecialized in “crossover” soul, climbing both the R&B charts and the Hot 100 in tandem.

But lately, something strange has been happening on Billboard’s R&B /Hip-Hop Songs chart: A hit is no longer necessarily a hit. Just because a song is big in the R&B sphere doesn’t mean it’s big anywhere else. For the week ending April 7, 2012, only one song in the R&B/Hip-Hop Top 10Tyga’s “Rack City”had managed a comparable placing on the Hot 100.

The song at No. 1, Beyoncé’s “Love on Top,” which had been there for multiple weeks, was way down at No. 54 on the Hot 100. (It briefly entered the Top 40 last September, debuting and peaking at No. 20 after Beyoncé performed it at the MTV Video Music Awards.) Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single R&B diva in the Top 40 aside from Janelle Monae, who got there by guest-singing on rock band fun.’s No. 1 hit “We Are Young.”

What happened to pop’s soul? There’s a disconnect between the pop and R&B charts that hasn’t been so pronounced since the days when Michael Jackson’s label, CBS Records, threatened to pull all of its artists from MTV if the then-fledgling network didn’t play Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video.

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: The Fall of R&B: How Pop Is Selling Its Soul for a Dance Beat’

Under Supervision: Sarah Solovay

Even at the tender age of 16, Sarah Solovay sings of the heartbreak of a teenager with the wisdom and grace of an experienced adult. Not only does her maturity shine through her songs, but it’s evident in her career choices as well. In March, her song “Hearts Collide” was featured on the 90210 soundtrack, launching her into the homes of millions of viewers throughout the country. Solovay’s fan base has been growing steadily ever since.

OurStage got the chance to talk to Solovay about the song placement and the impact it’s had on her career.

OS: First off, did you watch 90210 before your song was placed?

SS: I did, I did. I have to be honest. It is my guilty pleasure TV show. So it was really awesome to hear it on there.

OS: Tell me about how the whole thing came about.

SS: Well when you’re recording songs, it goes through a long process. And I guess the final process is to have your music mastered. The guy who mastered my EP for me sent it to CBS records. Larry Jenkins, the head of CBS records, was putting together 90210 and they really liked “Hearts Collide” and put it on there. They actually flew me out there and I got to meet the cast and everything, which was really cool.

OS: Aw, that’s awesome! Was the cast excited to meet you?

SS: I mean, I guess so. I went down while they were shooting and I got introduced. It was like an out of body experience.

OS: Who’s your favorite character on the show?

SS: I guess Silver is my favorite character. She’s just so cool.

OS: When did you write the song?

SS: I wrote “Hearts Collide” about two years ago, maybe more. It’s one of those songs that I put on the back burner. I recorded it and put it out and it had its day. Then it was resurrected, so to speak, by 90210.

OS: Was it written with anything in particular in mind?

SS: Yes. I was going through one of those moments in a relationship where it was the walking on eggshells part. And you don’t know what really going to come of it, but you’re curious. So, I wrote a song about it.

 


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