By Julia Chirls II Staff Writer
On November 24, Mary J. Blige released her newest album, The London Sessions. This is Blige’s 12th studio album to be released during her 25-year career as the “Queen of R&B” and “Queen of Hip-Hop.” Without a doubt, this album will skyrocket her worldwide sales. She has already sold 50 million albums and 15 million singles internationally. This statistic alone shows how successful Blige’s career as a famed singer-songwriter has been. She has won nine Grammy awards including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 2003 Grammy Awards for “He Think I Don’t Know” and in the same category in 2007 for “Be Without You.” I think The London Sessions has great potential to earn Blige many more awards. In fact, upon release, Billboard immediately called her newest album “superb” and “objectively her best since 2005’s The Breakthrough.”
The London Sessions was the result of a trip Blige took to London, where she recorded ten songs with several British artists including Emeli Sande and Sam Smith. Blige collaborated with Sam Smith, specifically, to record the third single on the album “Right Now,” released in October. The song has a shocking resemblance to one of her famous hits “Family Affair” in that there is a very similar beat, almost bringing listeners back in time to earlier in her career. Although it may seem like a repetitive addition to the numerous songs she has released throughout the past 25 years, I think it really adds brightness to the album as well as a tune that can be danced to.The musical group Disclosure helped in producing the song, so it contains some new tones rather than Blige’s usual R&B and soul style. The second single Blige released was “Whole Damn Year,” hitting the top five on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart.
A rather contrasting song to “Right Now” is “Not Loving You,” the third song on the track list. As opposed to the catchy beat of “Right Now” there is a soulful tone in her voice with a slow rhythm. This soulfulness is completely appropriate considering the lyrics– she pleads for her significant other to stop drinking because it is causing her pain. I think the two balance each other out, however, and make a good pair to listen to consecutively. It is no surprise that this is one of the more popular songs on the album, according to its sales on iTunes.
Another great song on the album sits eighth on the track list, “Whole Damn Year.” It is also the song from the album that has been bought the most on iTunes. In terms of style, the song is somewhat of a combination of “Right Now” and “Loving You.” In between drumbeats, there is a phrase of lyrics she sings straight from the heart. It is an easy listen and definitely the song on The London Sessions that I enjoy the most. This song resembles “I’m Going Down,” from her 1994 album My Life. Just like in this song, there is a pattern of drumbeat-lyrics-drumbeatlyrics, and so on. “Whole Damn Year” is a song on Blige’s album that is simply unforgettable.
The London Sessions will not disappoint; I guarantee it. Don’t miss out on a wonderful album that is an addition to Mary J. Blige’s legendary career. No matter what musical interests you have, after listening you will probably become a part of this musical legend’s loyal following.
Sophomore Julia Chirls is a staff writer. Her email is jchirls@fandm. edu.