I just don't get the vocal production on this song. The guys' voices are digitized on the hook, I guess because they can't blend or the producers don't really care about what it actually means to be a male R&B vocal group.
When you hear a Day26 song, you here an overly democratic approach to leads where the weakest vocalists (Willie and Que) are given equal weight with the strongest (Brian and Robert) such that the overall effect is to completely undersell any emotion or idea that might be in the song. And because they aren't bothering to harmonize there is no way for them to develop a sound unique to them that will help create in your mind who Day26 is supposed to be.
And that's really the issue here: these guys don't suggest a single image or identity that makes them standout or even interesting. There is no Alex Vanderpool like Boyz II Men or the romantic thug image of Jodeci or the sexual bravado of H-Town or Silk or even the church boy gospelly soul of an Intro or a Playa.
It's clear no one on Day26's team has any vision for what to do with them. And they themselves seem content to sing whatever sounds current enough to chart. It's generic trendy producers working with generically talented men to create … not much of anything.
As a rule, I loathe reality television. For no other reason than I really don't enjoy the inevitable feeling of superiority that comes from watching people debase themselves in pursuit of that elusive 15 minutes of fame.
But there are exceptions to every rule. Project Runway for being the anti-reality show reality show. Ru-Paul's Drag Race for being a good-hearted parody of Project Runway and doing the one thing that America's Next Top Model hasn't – turning its contestants into legitimate stars. And the last season of Making The Band with Crazy Que from Day26 for showing just how much male R&B stars truly are divas.
Yea, I can justify those shows. I can't justify having watched four episodes of The A-List New York.
At this point, I'm not even sure why I'm even mildly concerned with Day26's career. This video just further shows that this is a group of five men who probably shouldn't be recording together, or at least, should not be allowed to choose the material they sing.
This song is completely formless. It has no passion, it doesn't rise or fall or even seem to have a pulse. I don't even know what it's about. The vocal arrangement benefits Brian quite well here, but seems to force Q into a weird vocal place where he sounds like something is lodged in his throat.
Visually, Brian continues to be the only guy who understands how to play to the camera. He just oozes charisma. Everyone else looks pained and uncomfortable, save Robert, who looks insane.
I'm so done with Will and Q as lead vocalists (they should not sing lead), but Robert's autotuned vocals are disgusting. He's easily the best singer in the group, he knows it, but his dogged attempt to be some bootleg Sean Garrett/Kanye West is embarrassing (at worst) and insincere (at best). Dude – just SANG.
It's worth pointing out that Puff played a huge role in the imaging of Jodeci, perhaps the most influential male group of the last 30 years not New Edition. That he hasn't taken the reins with Day26 and molded them into a fantastic vocal group (which they could definitely be) is sad, if predictable. If there's one thing Puff can do, it's sell shit to White folks and young Black kids without any real sense of their people's musical heritage. In his early work, he translated what Teddy was doing musically into an image that he could sell. That was important, if maddening.
But now, I don't think dude's head is in making music anymore. He seems to let his groups flounder almost for sport. People should stop trying get signed to his label.
I think Day26, on some level, knows this. Their videos seem desperate, pleading, as if they are holding onto them 15 minutes like their lives depended on it.
And maybe they do.
But the first mistake everyone involved in this mess made was giving the fellas any say in the music they would make this go round. They are clearly not capable of picking good material. It's okay though. That doesn't make them any less talented or any less deserving of a shot at a music career, it just means people who know music inside and out should be guiding them.
A&R is a lost art in today's artist-must-have-creative-control-whether-they-are-creative-or-not era. One needn't be Berry Gordy'd into submission, but there should be someone to tell Robert, "hey, the hair?, yea no. just no," and tell all five guys that trend-jocking gets you nowhere fast. I mean, they record an album full of autotune right as Sean Carter records "Death of Autotune."
Confusing trends with actual shifts in the musical landscape means you don't get to make the big decisions, kids.