I’ve been ill lately—a cold and upset stomach which, if I had a wife, I would tell her was “gastric ‘flu”. Being ill is boring. Yesterday evening I crawled out of bed about nine to entertain myself by surfing the Web for some free music to download. There’s a site where people using a particular piece of music-making software share their compositions with other users. Not only do they make available MP3s of their work, but they release the files containing the scores of their tracks so that others can remix and reuse their material.
After browsing the “Electronica” section and listening to some pleasant sub-Jean-Michel Jarre efforts, I decide to risk downloading a track from the site’s “Urban” category, where I fully expect the content to be marred by the usual lousy amateurish vocals. The difference between good popular music recordings and bad ones—whether the performers are signed or unsigned—is almost always the same: the quality of the singing and the quality of the songwriting. I put on my headphones and my weary music-critic ears, expecting to hear the formulaic efforts of another cack-handed bedroom synthesizer bore with his girlfriend on vocals wandering forlorn somewhere in the vicinity of the tune. Instead I am treated to an amazing display of pitch-perfect R&B crooning and flawless close-mike technique. The production is a bit dated, but who is this guy and why isn’t he signed?
He’s Babyface. He’s sold 100 million records, his hometown named a road after him, and it’s an illegal copy of his 1996 single Every Time I Close My Eyes.
Ah well. I haven’t discovered the next Luther Vandross, but at least I can tell when the Emperor is fully clothed.