Los Angeles-based R&B singer Miguel has a lot of fun. It’s easy to gather that fact listening to his music; he nearly always sounds like he’s singing with a smile. In a genre where it can be difficult to separate yourself from your peers, Miguel has carved out a niche as one of the smoothest artists around.
Miguel burst onto the scene in 2010 with his wonderful single “Sure Thing” and subsequently released his debut album All I Want Is You. While his artistry and vocal talent were easily identified, Miguel had difficulty exhibiting why people should care about his music. All I Want Is You didn’t have a focus or identity and therefore didn’t gain much attention. When Jive Records was closed down and absorbed by RCA Records, Miguel was given the opportunity to showcase his talents for a major label debut. He was labelmates with R&B legends D’Angelo and R. Kelly.
Miguel’s second studio album, Kaleidoscope Dream, allowed him to find his sound and saturate his talents. This album was one of my favorite of 2012, and it’s remarkable that Miguel could stand out in a year where other excellent R&B artists (Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Janelle Monáe) released material. The music on Kaleidoscope Dream was beautiful. It included soaring synth flourishes, innovative chord progressions, and Miguel’s infectious voice. Lead single “Adorn” was extremely sweet, and ended up being nominated for multiple Grammys. The simplicity of themes on this LP helped it succeed: where other artists tackled difficult issues and sensitive subjects, Miguel just wanted to sing about how much he loves his girl.
It’s fitting that perhaps Miguel’s best song is titled “Do You (Like Drugs)”, as Miguel essentially creates the musical equivalent of muscle relaxants. Miguel and his producers have mastered the art of tension and release, and when that resolution finally hits its peak, it’s like chicken soup for the soul. His collaboration with Mariah Carey, “#Beautiful”, is what waking up with your significant other on a summer Sunday morning would sound like if it were translated to music.
Miguel’s third album, Wild Heart, is set to be released later in 2015. If his nwa.hollywooddreams.coffee EP is any indication, Miguel is fleshing out his sound to assist his staying power. Whether it will continue to appeal to his fans remains to be seen.
shoutouts to Cara for the suggestion
Five songs I’m listening to this week:
Miguel | “Do You”
Carly Rae Jepsen | “All That”
Tame Impala | “Cause I’m A Man”
Charli XCX | “Famous”
Sam Hunt | “Take Your Time”