On That Note

Image from "Rock With You" music video.
Third best only to "Beat It" and "Thriller"
Apologies for the unannounced missing post last week.  I had something scheduled to post, but had to change the material last minute.  I accidentally rescheduled the post for today and was ignorant of this until last night.

A big two weeks: for starters, check out this video.  So kickin'.  Also, I've began flirting with contemporary* R&B.  This is a result of my relationship with hip-hop - still budding, she's led me to branch into this genre since they're decently similar in lyrical content and musical ingredient.

However, my latest purchase on iTunes - yeah, I'm that guy that actually buys music still - is Michael Jackson's "Rock With You."  Typically, I repeat whatever this track may be for at least a week, where then I may or may not return to whatever my musical diet was before said purchase.  With that, I write about this song because, well, I've been listening to it repeatedly (and it's phenomenal).

I realized about seven months ago that most, if not all, acclaim Michael received as an entertainer (not musical artist - little of his music is self-produced unlike his contemporary of Prince and for that I put him in a lower classification of artistry than others) is absolutely deserved.  This track solidifies the argument of this opinion.  Email me at mserge@thedailyserge.com if you can find any bad thing about "Rock With You" at all.  I can't.

Released in November of 1979, "Rock With You" is a product of its time.  With the nearing end of disco, the song has obvious hints of the genre (use of brass, strings, among other stylistic undertones) that dominated popular culture throughout the 70s (peaking towards the end of the decade, as when this song was released), yet alludes to the upcoming popular sound that Michael Jackson himself would help establish throughout the 80s.  Rod Temperton's innocent romantic lyric is brought to life when fused with Quincy Jones' equally innocent melodic theme.  Synthesizers first state this theme while rhythm guitar and simple percussion accompany and "fuel the engine" with rhythmic movement/direction.  The bass line has some groove to it - nothing too extreme - but certainly does its job as it complements and adds another dimension to the track.

I think I admire the flexibility of this song most.  It seems like it would appropriately fit so many occasions.  I could totally see myself slow dancing to this with my wife in our kitchen just for the hell of it on some Friday night around 10:30.  Likewise, this song is absolutely acceptable at a house party.  Few songs have this dynamic, depth, or ability.  Even if they do, they are not as successful necessarily.

Lesson learned - if you think you can sing, get a great producer.  They're like your attitude - they'll make you or break you.

Until next time

*Throughout the 20th Century, "R&B" has had different meanings:
1940s - rock, jazz mix predominant among African American musicians
early 1950s - blues
mid 1950s - electric blues, gospel, soul
1970s - soul/funk
1980s to present - probably what you think of when you say/hear "R&B" - contemporary

5 comments:

  1. so MJ is R&B? I thought he was more pop?

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  2. Nope. Notice the first word of the paragraph after discussing musical highlights from the past two weeks and recent investigation into R&B - "however." Not necessarily a relation. I frequently enough begin my posts with a summary of a few minor musical highlights that dawned on me throughout the week before getting into the "meat" of my post.

    Furthermore, I noted that this song was a product of its time - "disco" and alluding to MJ's future pop sound. Not R&B.

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  3. my intention/attempt was to be hilarious, not to have been slapped continuously in the face. do you treat/respond to all of your adoring fans this way Michael Serge?
    my sincere apologies for my piss poor attempt to making you laugh sir.

    ReplyDelete