Track Review: John Legend, ‘Love Me Now’
On promo single “Love Me Now,” John Legend embraces the neo-, post-R&B script, embedding soulfulness within the context of pop.
R&B isn’t dead, but it is inarguably struggling to find footing. This puts the musicians who thrive in the style in a predicament. That predicament is whether or not to stay true to a genre where commercial aspirations are slimmer than ever or incorporate it into pop. The answer for many R&B artists is pop. John Legend, one of R&B’s best artists, doesn’t turn his back on R&B on new single “Love Me Now,” but it’s clear he has pop and commercial success in mind.
“Love Me Now” opens with a pop-oriented groove. It’s not foreign or far-fetched in urban music, but clearly, this sound is tailor-made for Top 40 radio. This is a very different sound than Legend showcased back in 2004 (Get Lifted) or 2006 (Once Again), when neo-soul still had footing. If the pop-friendly production is somewhat off-putting, Legend atones with his robust, soulful pipes, which aren’t compromised in the least.
The blueprint for “Love Me Now” is clearly “All of Me,” a hit that crossover from an urban audience to the top of the pop charts. Rather than deliver another ballad, Legend opts for a mid-tempo, chivalrous record. It works because producers successfully blend pop cues with Legend’s knack for R&B. It doesn’t supplant Legend’s more soulful, traditional R&B records, but makes the case for his relevance in a post-R&B world.
Chivalry bodes well in Legend’s favor. While he has sex appeal, he doesn’t come over horny and crude like some of his R&B contemporaries. Flirty is as far as Legend manages to be pushed, and it’s the best look possible:
“I don’t know who’s gonna kiss you when I’m gone / So I’m gonna love you now, like it’s all I have / I know it’ll kill me when it’s over / I don’t wanna think about it, I want you to love me now.”
All in all, “Love Me Now” is a respectable look for John Legend. Those holding out hope that neo-soul isn’t finished will still be waiting for its resurgence. Most who understand the new climate of the music industry should see this as a win. It doesn’t trump “All of Me” nor threaten “Get Lifted” or “Slow Dance,” but welcomes an intriguing voice back into the game.