2015 in Review: Day 2 – R&B and Soul

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[The 2015 in Review Series]

1. Prelude (Best Album Art)
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Staff Picks
16. Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

2015 didn’t bring a lot of full-length studio pickings in R&B, but a strong crop of EPs and absurd riches in singles more than made up for it. The young blood in this scene is really coming into its own; there are more new faces in this year’s selections than ever before, spread across a healthy spectrum of subgenres.

Important: as in previous years, the Album of the Year and Song of the Year (and their runner-ups) are not included in the genre categories. That means that, for example, there could be an R&B album that isn’t being recognized on this page because it’s the album of the year. Also, note that all “First Ten Out” and “Honorable Mention” picks are sorted by artist name.


Best R&B and Soul Album 2015

Boni - Love

Boni – Love

Boni’s long-awaited first album was far from flashy, and that suited her just as well. Yes, the production was carefully focused and the instrumentals were satisfyingly solid, but what really sold Love was the vocal performance. From the quiet austerity of “I Love You” to the playful reservation of “Strawberry” to the slight indulgence of “Umm”, this record oozed confidence in the carrying power of the vocalist – and listeners were rewarded richly. Boni took us all to a master class on how to do an R&B album, and it’s one of the best of the last decade and more.

Runner-up R&B and Soul Album 2015

Primary - 2

Primary – 2

was Primary following his disposition; much more so than 2012’s Primary and the Messengers LP, this sophomore album delved into a rich world of R&B and funk. Unlike Boni, Primary took the maximalist approach: more varied themes, fuller sounds, more eclectic featured vocalists. We hear the producer playing maestro with the dizzying array of components, and his penchant for satisfying melodies powers the most memorable singles like “Mannequin” and reggae-infused “Don’t Be Shy”.

The First Ten Out



Best R&B and Soul Song 2015

Nieah – No Rush

I don’t know a whole lot about Nieah, but I know that the mysterious vocalist has released five singles to date, four in 2015, and I picked every single one for this series. Credit the work of her Chillwithus team for the sleek, teched-up instrumentals of these singles, including that of “No Rush”: a dreamy production that quickly ramps up to a breathless cadence of ringing synths and piano. Nieah took the title to heart, providing a confident, weighty performance to ground down the arrangement. For three minutes, “No Rush” was altogether captivating.

Runner-up R&B and Soul Song 2015

Taeil (Block B) – 흔들린다 (Inspiring)

You could hear 40 in the soft harmonies and the intricate yet warm piano work, but make no mistake: Taeil ran away with “Inspiring”. His voice contains just the right balance of tenderness and raw power, both of which were needed in this confession of friendship turned into more. He carries the beautiful melody with longing, bottling up for the cathartic explosion in the song’s climax. It’s the kind of single that satisfies now, and makes one giddy with anticipation of what else could come down the road.

The First Ten Out

Yerin Baek - Frank

Baek Yerin – 우주를 건너 (Across The Universe)

Boni - Love

Boni – One In A Million

Han Yo-han - Selfmade

Han Yo-han – Take Me Along (Featuring Park Sumin, Jacoby)

Hoody - Let Em Know

Hoody – Let Em Know

Kirin - Summer Holiday

Kirin – Summer Holiday (’97 In Love)

Nieah - Why

Nieah – Why (Featuring Jay Dope)

Rico - The Slow Tape

Rico – Til The Sun Comes Up

Primary - 2

Primary – 마네퀸 (Mannequin) (Featuring Beenzino, Suran)

Shin Da-jung - Tonight

Shin Da-jung – 오늘밤 (Tonight)

Zion.T - No Make Up

Zion.T – No Make Up

Honorable Mentions


Big Time – The New Black
Hong Dana – Asura
Jonghyun – Base
Jung Yeop – Merry Go Round
Laybacksound – Pink O’Clock
Moonshine – Time 2 Shine
New Day – Plus Minus
Ra.L – A
Rinaa – 말 못할 그런 느낌 (Can Not Explain)
Saero – Relax Your Mind
Sbeck – 27
Shin Zisu – 20’s Party 1
Ta’en – 잎 (Leaf)
Tarin – In The Room
Urban Zakapa – UZ


40 – 63빌딩 (63 Building)
Ahn Tae-yeon – Moonlight
Ailee – Insane
Ali – 잘가요 Mr. Kim (Goodbye Mr. Kim) (Featuring LE)
Babylon – Pray
Baek Ji-woong – 진심이 있어 (True Feelings)
Boni – Stalk You
Boni – Strawberry
Cheeze – 이제 뭐라고 (Now What) (Featuring Kirin)
Choi Ye-geun – Super Moon (Featuring Ildo)
Cokejazz & Hoody – Blue Horizon
Dean – 풀어 (Pour Up) (Featuring Zico)
D.ear – Forget You
ELO – Your Love (Featuring The Quiett)
G-Soul – Love Me Again
Gil Min-ji – 쏠로의 봄 (Spring For Singles)
GOHO – 이끌린대로 (As Led) (Featuring Simahoy of Bad Joyscoutt)
Han Gi-ran – Destination
Han Yo-han – Good Girl (Featuring Verbal Jint, Jihyun)
Honey Bee – To You
Jang Wook – Still Love You
Jay Park – Solo (Featuring Hoody)
Jonghyun – 할렐루야 (Hallelujah)
Junggigo – 일주일 (A Week) (Featuring Zion.T, Crush, Dean)
Jung Yeop – Come With Me Girl
Kim Seung-ah – Light (Featuring Wilcox)
Laybacksound – Take A Walk
Lee Bada – You Got Me
Lee Michelle – I Can Sing
Luveda – M’nite Drive (Featuring Jisuk)
Monokim – 착각 (Misunderstanding)
Nieah – Alright
Nieah – Tell Me Why
Pae Su-jung – 사랑할거예요 (Still Loving You)
Primary & Ohhyuk – Bawling
Ra.D & JuB – 그린라이트 (Green Light)
Saero – 롤러코스터 (Roller Coaster)
Sam – 혼자만의 시간 (Wish I Never Had)
Samuel Seo – Somebody’s
Shin Da-jung – I’ll Be Fine
The Suite – 불러줄게 (I’ll Call)
U Sung-eun – 마리화나 (Marijuana)
Verry – We Can Luv (Featuring Odee)
Wheesung & Ailee – Kiss
Zion.T – 꺼내 먹어요 (Eat)
Zion.T & Crush – 그냥 (Just)

Sources: album art from Bugs Music; Boni header image from Boni official Facebook

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