The R&B singer Guordan Banks works with the precision of a surgeon on his new single “Can’t Keep Runnin:'” He dissects the Gap Band’s great ballad “Yearning for Your Love,” locates the sterling melodies in the track’s core, and transplants them into a mid-tempo groove.
It’s a small change, but — when paired with a thunking 808 beat and a pointy guitar — it has a big impact. While the original “Yearning for Your Love” was shimmery and flirtatious, “Can’t Keep Runnin'” is pushy, verging on frustrated. “I’m patient, but you can’t be playing,” Banks sings. The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson seemed lost in adoration; Banks seems wary, twice-burned, keeping one eye on the exits.
Banks got his start as a songwriter, penning tracks for R&B mainstays like Keyshia Cole and Vivian Green. His breakout moment came in 2016, when he self-released the single “Keep You in Mind.” The track earned the admiration of programmers in the radio format known as Adult R&B or Urban Adult Contemporary. “Six major market radio stations were playing the record before we even hired a radio guy [to promote the track],” Banks said at the time. “Keep You in Mind” eventually went all the way to Number One in the format, reaching around 11 million listeners a week at its peak. It was a remarkable triumph for an independent act.
Adult Programmers welcomed Banks’ return: “Can’t Keep Runnin'” increased by 110 plays last week, according to Nielsen BDS, which tracks radio activity. Only three singles saw a bigger increase in spins.