by Dom Jones
In case you’ve been living under a rock (or just disengaged from popular music as of late), check out Ella Mai’s song “Boo’d Up” below:
This song has become one of the biggest hits of summer 2018, but it was released in FEBRUARY of 2017! When I first learned this information, it was super peculiar to me, because in the current landscape of music, if you release a song and it doesn’t “hit” within the first few weeks (and in rare cases, months) of release, it’s considered a flop and everyone, including the artist and their label if they have one, tends to move on from it. “Boo’d Up” was out there floating in the ethers for over a year before it really started to catch fire. Why did it take so long?
Ella Mai is a British R&B singer
In an article from The Guardian, the singer is quoted to have said, “The music industry in England doesn’t really know what to do with R&B. If it were up to England, Boo’d Up definitely wouldn’t be where it is now.” So, one reason for the length of time it took to peak is that her home country may not have been showing her as much love as the United States did. If we think about the distance between the two places, it would take a while for an artist from another country to infiltrate the music scene here, made more difficult if the artist’s own country isn’t really supportive.
R&B is on an Upswing
Now, this could just be me being optimistic, but I think R&B is on its way back to the forefront of music. In recent years past, we’ve seen purer R&B take a backseat to R&B that is more genre-bending or that blurs the line between R&B and hip-hop or R&B and soul. With the uptick in the diversity of what R&B sounds like, more people are gravitating towards it. R&B artists are also putting themselves in a position to be seen by different audiences. PJ Morton, a heavyweight as a solo artist in R&B, is also a member of the lauded band Maroon 5, and has opened a few of their shows on their current tour with a solo set of his own most recently released music.
Other Artists Embraced the Song
From Rihanna jamming to the song in her car to the controversy over the remix with Nicki Minaj and Quavo to the explosion around T-Pain’s remix, each of these artists either introduced the song to their respective fanbase or validated the song for their fans who had already heard it. I’m sure this had an additionally positive effect on how the song has seemingly come out of nowhere to reach its current status as the love song of the summer.
Ultimately, while I can appreciate some of the classic 90s R&B elements in the production, it’s not my favorite song. That being said, what the success of “Boo’d Up” should tell new artists (especially ones from other countries) is that it may take longer for your music to break in the mainstream, but just because it takes a little longer, doesn’t mean you’re not sitting with breakout music.