Rising R&B artist Miguel came out with his sophomore effort Kaleidoscope Dream in a year that was just way too stuffed for it to be truly cherished. It’s unfortunate because the LP is an overwhelming artistic statement, imbuing the kind of confidence and assured musicianship necessary for songs to take flight and lyrics to pack punches. It’s title as “most overlooked album of 2012” is a label I don’t want to consider, but it might be most appropriate, as years pass by and, in retrospect, it becomes a benchmark R&B album of the 2010s that will get its just desserts.
Though the album wasn’t totally ignored for the 2013 Grammys, it didn’t take home any of the prizes that it probably should have won. They say hindsight is “20/20,” however, and looking back on the nominees for that year, it probably was right of the voting parties to give most of their attention to the album’s lead-off single “Adorn.” It lost to Fun.’s “We Are Young” in the Song Of The Year category, but it did take Best R&B Song, and rightly so.
Built on an immediate and gripping bass and lush tonality, “Adorn” is a song that gets right to the point, with Miguel bearing his heart and soul to his girl in just a little over three minutes. Its pop sensibilities make it accessible, but Miguel’s lyrical directness, conceptual briefness, and overflow of fantastic production puts it ahead of the rest, working as an introduction to an album of equal value as well as a single with enough assertiveness that it manages to say everything and anything you need to know about the artist.
But “Adorn” isn’t just a great R&B song. It’s also one incredible love song. Miguel’s falsetto voice fights with the track’s thumping bass and diffused keys to a breaking point, and there’s a fragility to the entire affair where his passion ultimately wins. It’s instrumental swagger meets him and his songwriting at a crux, and when the music cuts out to let Miguel give his last breath, you realize that you’ve just listened to one of the most satisfying and sexiest love songs in recent memory.
Would it have been great if “Adorn” took the prize for Song of the Year? Sure, but it didn’t have to. It exists as the love song for a new generation, and that’s a success in and of itself.