Half the joy of being an R&B fan is incessantly complaining about the state of R&B — the lack of hits, the sexlessness of its 2019, the cottage industry of lullaby drones filling downtempo streaming playlists. Then Ann Marie drops “My Body,”and my complaints about R&B quickly seem lazy.
The two-minute track, produced by Troy Taylor, is an ode to, well, her body. It capably channels the spirit of late-90s and early-2000s R&B, from its slow and pulsating beat to its dark and alluring melody. The Chicago singer’s lyrical propensity to undercut affection with blunt lust is her signature appeal, a thin line few singers are able to convincingly walk. “Cause when you’re around I can’t control my body/The way you’re touching me I get excited,” she sings softly during the hook. Then, just as that sweetness arrive,s it vanishes: “I make it nasty when we fuck/and I ain’t trying to fall in love.” Her voice has a fair and breathy quality reminiscent of Aaliyah, Marie’s favorite singer growing up.
“I just like her presence,” she told Rolling Stone in March. “How she was like pretty in the face, but hood in the vibe.”
In June, Marie signed with Interscope Records after years of racking up millions of views and streams. The 23-year-old’s popularity, along with that major label signing, is hopefully proof that R&B can (and will) shed its cold, mush-mouthed, streaming-optimized exterior for warm and catchier pastures.