Arin Ray, a former X Factor contestant turned R&B songwriter turned frontman, gets caught in a dangerous love triangle in his new video for “Communication.”
“Communication” is far and away the best song on Ray’s debut album, Platinum Fire, which came out in March. It’s minimal — little more than a guitar lick and a light rhythmic pulse — and melodic, filled with waves of background vocals and ad-libs. DRAM shows up to deliver a typically off-kilter feature that interpolates the great Marvin Gaye hit “I Want You.”
In the video for the single, Ray falls in love with the partner of his boss. But his boss happens to be a dangerous criminal who doesn’t take kindly to romantic competition. When the kingpin comes looking for vengeance, Ray and his new lover hit the road, making a smooth escape in a pretty, highly buffed car.
After singing as part of Britney Spears’ team on The X Factor, Ray was tutored in the art of writing and production by the Underdogs — the duo of Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas, who have written an absurd number of R&B hits. Ray soon began to accumulate major-label R&B placements: “Ain’t You,” a highlight from K. Michelle’s More Issues Than Vogue, “The Ride,” a somber track that Ro James used to open his ElDorado album, and “Don’t Matter,” a pretty August Alsina loosie that has quietly racked up over six million YouTube views.
“Communication” is boldly oblivious to the dominant sounds of radio and streaming service playlists, with production that evokes old Quiet Storm records like Smokey Robinson’s “Baby That’s Backatcha.” Unfortunately that seems to have limited its commercial impact — it hasn’t become a major streaming hit, and radio play has been spotty. Last week, “Communication” was played four times by an R&B station in Houston, according to Mediabase.