Album hashtag: #britishrihanna
Besides #britbeauty Katy B, there’s only one artist that can fully encapsulate the fun with being youthful and that’s Rihanna. Being compared to an international superstar like Riri must not only carry its fair share of weight, but it must be positively true in order for the comparison to be respected. On her sophomore album ‘Little Red’, Katy B does sound like Rihanna. She even takes some of the youthful fun from Riri’s songs and twists them down a darker path on her latest release. But the amount of credit given to Katy B for her songwriting, production, and arranging has been greatly underestimated until ‘Little Red’ hit stores in February 2014.
First, all three of the official singles performed exceedingly well overseas while maintaining a fairly moderate stateside impact as well. The pringle (promo single) “Aaliyah” with the grandeur Jessie Ware is a great duet by two sonically different artists that’s also reminiscent of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” while slightly paying homage to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. First official single “5AM” may have a weird line about drug usage (“I need somebody to calm me down / a little lovin’ like valium”), but its clever rhyming with the song title gives it a pass. Second single “Next Thing” sounds like it would literally float on air in the club, while its catchy chorus proves just how radio-friendly Katy B’s music can become. The ballad “Still” is one of the greatest love songs written this year, as Katy holds the “still” note with passion as she belts over the song’s violin melodies.
After the singles, there are still quite a few standouts on ‘Little Red’. “Play”, co-written and produced by British electronic musician Sampha, is beyond pleasurable to the ears as the two coyly trade melodies over a SBTRKT-esque beat. My personal favorite “Blue Eyes” finds Katy B discussing what she likes best about her new boytoy, as she playfully sings “and I’ll do anything to turn you on / do as you wish cause you can do no wrong”. Album standout “Stay Down” continues the trend of loving happiness as she tells the tale of a rocky relationship. “I will stay in the dark for you to take it out on me” sings Katy B over the passionately emotional midtempo.
From the listen of songs like “All My Lovin” and “Wicked Love”, it’s clear that moodier pop/R&B is exactly what Katy B’s ‘Little Red’ was aiming for. Despite comparisons, Katy B’s vocals rise much higher than her American counterpart in the most complimentary way possible. ‘Red’ surpasses the #sophomoreslump while also becoming more interesting than her ‘On A Mission’ debut. Not many artists can grow between albums on the level that Katy B has done, which means shell be a full-on international superstar come album number three.