Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
As far as human beings go, Terius Nash may well be one of the most
sought-after. Here’s a brief list of songs he’s written/produced for
• Beyoncé, “1 + 1” (critically lauded, album’s certified platinum after topping the Billboard 200 for two consecutive weeks) and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (Topped four separate U.S. charts, four times platinum, guaranteed to be played at every wedding until eternity ends) • Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body” (Jack McBrayer-starring video boasts more than 51 million YouTube hits) • Rihanna, “Umbrella” (triple-platinum, three Grammy nods and one win; Wikipedia page is nearly 20,000 words long)
When it comes to stroking the public sense of intimacy and sexuality, the dude’s got the magic touch. He’s also impressively honest (see: the title of promotional single “Fuck My Brains Out”) for a guy experiencing success in a market that typically reward early Britney Spears pop-star types who flagrantly deny any trace of sexual over- or undertones in their music (it’s just a matter of time before that next Justin Bieber album drops, guys).
And aside from one particularly obnoxious track — I’m not sure if I can completely forgive you for thinking it would be a good idea to imitate Yelawolf on “This Shit Real Ni**a,” dude — it seems Nash’s first album without his The-Dream alias brings the goods. The thing’s laden with his signature silky vocals and ornamental beats as well as plenty of my very favorite The-Dreamism, that vocal “Ohhhhh” that sounds like he recorded it while dropping a fadeaway shot from beyond the arc (check the chorus of on the title track of the album “Love King” if you’re not sure what I’m talking about).
While it distinguishes itself stylistically and thematically from most of the rest of “1977,” (which you can download for free at the Radio Killa Records website!) “Silly” is easily my favorite track here, a slowed-down, throwback girlie ballad owing just as much to early early aughts girl pop as it does to the late ’60s. Casha’s vocals are modern-cartoonish exaggerations of Minnie Riperton and Denise Williams — who, a very long time ago, popularized the hook “oh love, stop makin’ a fool of me” — but that’s usually a good thing in pop music. The song’s just one more example of Nash’s remarkable ability to produce something incredible with nothing to start with more than a female voice.
But yeah, as I said, the rest of the album adheres more strictly to subject matter Nash explored as The-Dream: mainly fame, girls and how they mix. In stark opposition to The Weeknd’s particularly dark, exploitative attitude toward women, it’s clear that Nash gets emotionally entangled with most of his. “I miss you every time it rains / You’re written all over me / Your grandchildren are a sight to see,” he sings on “1977 (Miss You Still).”
Opening track “Wake Me When It’s Over” trods similar territory, although Nash isn’t reminiscing anything but how good his last girl’s body was, leaving much of the track to dangle in the ether, beat-less. Per the title, however, he’s fully aware of the end of the relationship, and seems to lament the loss more weightily than he celebrates any praise of her shape.
And while he’s definitely the type to get all depressed over a busted relationship, he’s far from meek in his songwriting. “Stop fuckin’ with me if you ain’t fuckin’ with me, woman,” he says on “Used to Be,” with sooooooo much authority.
But don’t worry, there are fun, heavy-synth tracks where Nash unfurls that glorious pop voice of his. “Rolex” and “Ghetto” are about as much fun as you’ll have listening to any R&B album this year. So hop in that “red Ferrari” with a couple of dime pieces, pop this album in and cruise around Hollywood. Or maybe just imagine you’re doing that. —Matt Carney