From classic, pop-infused soul and funk to neo-soul, the past three months have brought every permutation of R&B to the fore. The Weeknd's new suite of electronic-infused ambient R&B, Kiss Land, lives up to the promise of his earlier Trilogy of EPs. Janelle Monae has also received kudos for the latest chapter in her Metropolis saga, The Electric Lady. A debate over the artistic and, uh, moral implications of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines has brewed since its release. Regardless of some critics' misgivings, it has turned into his biggest seller in years. However, Mayer Hawthorne's Where Does This Door Go went largely unnoticed, and it's fair to wonder if he's being unfairly dismissed as a blue-eyed novelty act. Maybe he needs a career reboot like "Blurred Lines."
Meanwhile, successful new albums from K. Michelle and Tamar Braxton prove how reality TV shows can give a boost to traditional R&B singers. John Legend explores the vagaries of romance with impressive grace on Love in the Future. He's one of a handful of men infusing adult R&B with a dash of testosterone; others include T.G.T. (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank), Raheem DeVaughn and Jaheim. Finally, it appears that the EP has become the new debut format for young, unproven R&B singers. This roundup includes extended plays by August Alsina, who has a modest R&B hit in "I Luv This Sh*t," and Justine Skye.