From the moment I heard Melanie Fiona’s Zombies-sampling debut single “Give It To Me Right“, I became hooked. Between the impeccable sample use of “Time Of The Season” and her incredible voice which combines Brandy’s timbre with the soulfulness of a young Aretha Franklin, she mesmerized me. Then I heard her follow-up single “It Kills Me“. The way she sings that song is unreal. She puts every fiber of her being into every chorus. The rest of her debut album The Bridge brings together elements of R&B, soul, pop, doo-wop, and reggae with that stellar and soulful voice.
For her second album, she described the sound as “stadium soul“. This album is a sonic evolution of her debut, expanding the sound to higher levels and bigger rooms, while she expanded her reach to winning Grammys and playing larger stages. Like her debut, she explores a variety of sounds, but always While her debut included no features, she came through with the hottest features on The MF. Life. Contributors to The MF Life include Drake, Nas, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, B.o.B, No I.D., John Legend, T-Pain, and Salaam Remi.
My top 5 songs from Melanie Fiona’s The MF Life:
“Change The Record” feat. B.o.B
The fact that this song never became a radio single is a crime. It has the perfect sound for radio with a catchy hook, and fitting verse from B.o.B., who was making major waves when this dropped. Melanie compares men to records, and if the man isn’t right, it’s on to the next one. “If you don’t like how he’s playin’ then change the record.”
The epitome of a modern-day torch song. A 2012 “I Put A Spell On You”, meeting somewhere in the middle of Nina Simone and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. “Straight through your skin, past your soul to your bones… gimme gimme gimme your bones!” she demands over this disjointed, eerie, jazzy and soulful instrumentation.
“Wrong Side Of A Love Song”
Ultimate heartbreak. While ballads “Gone And Never Coming Back” & “4AM” were the lead singles, this album cut is the lead ballad and biggest vocal showcase on the album. Melanie’s vocal performance on this song is next level. As the song climaxes, she cuts into it with the vocal intensity of an early 70’s Aretha Franklin and a 90’s Mary J. Blige. It’s a clever twist on the typical heartbreak song, posing the question of “how did I become the wrong side of a love song?”
“Watch Me Work”
This is a straight up ‘strut down the street and werk it’ record. Put on your best heels and as the song says “watch me work!” Built on a Tina Turner-esque rock and soul instrumentation with a driving beat, it’s extremely empowering and confidence driving. This can be found in heavy rotation on my ‘Fierce’ playlist.
“6AM” feat. T-Pain
Something about this is deliciously entertaining. As Melanie tells it, the two were in contact and talking about doing something. At the time T-Pain recently released the dreamy “5 O’Clock“, while Melanie was working the smoldering “4AM” from The MF Life. It was only logical to examine the next hour. The result is a fun, upbeat, at times comedic record. The peak moment comes at the beginning of the bridge when T-Pain sings “Ooooo what yo’ ass doin’ up anyway?” and Melanie fires back “Fuck that! I was sittin’ here worried ’bout you!”
Bonus: Melanie in Philadelphia
The day after Melanie released The MF Life, I saw her perform in Philadelphia and met her after the show. She tore the roof off World Cafe Live. The peak moment of the night was her notably next-level performance of “Wrong Side Of A Love Song”. Here’s a look:
Thanks for an unforgettable night and amazing album, Melanie!
Listen to Melanie Fiona’s The MF Life: