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Contemporary R&B

Contemporary R&B is used to describe the new wave of R&B music that emerged in the 80s. The style developed and took elements from progressive soul, disco, and hip hop. Most notably, contemporary R&B was influenced by the rhythmic emphasis and use of electronic synths, effects, and percussion in these styles. This newer sound is typified in the album Control released by Janet Jackson in 1986. Into the 90s R&B solidified itself once again as one of the most popular genres with Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard becoming immensely popular and the best-selling soundtrack of all time. The next few years saw the release of Janet Jackson’s self-titled album janet and Mariah Carey’s Music Box, both of which were widely successful. 

In 1995, Carey’s album Daydream included the single One Sweet Day which was a collaboration with Boyz II Men and received universal praise. Into the 2000s, R&B more commonly crossed over with hip hop and the style continued to exhibit commercial success. Contemporary R&B is typically characterised by the use of electronics: electric keyboards, synthesisers and drum machines are very common and replaced the guitar-based instrumentation of earlier classic R&B. The vocals are usually both very smooth and polished, and virtuosic. Within R&B there are also a lot of ballad style songs. 

Notable artists:

Janet Jackson

Whitney Houston

Mariah Carey

Michael Jackson

Boyz II Men

Alicia Keys

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