Now that Michael Phelps has completed his quest to become the most-decorated Olympic athlete in history, and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team have conquered the world, there’s really no reason to continue watching the Olympics.
Instead, you should probably turn your attention to MTV News’ Summer Jam Games, where there’s still plenty of drama to be had. Over in the Pop category, One Direction’s “One Thing” and Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me” are locked in a tight battle for gold, while in Hip-Hop , it’s a three-way race between G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy,” 2 Chainz’s “No Lie” and Young Jeezy’s “Leave You Alone.”
Vote for your favorite song, discuss and share on Facebook and Twitter in the Summer Jam Games!
Polls in all five Summer Jam categories close Sunday at midnight ET, so there’s still plenty of time for your voice to be heard — and to help inform your decisions, we’re taking a look at the R&B field, a hotly contested battle between established hitmakers and up-and-coming talent. Who will stand atop the podium when the medals are handed out? Well, that’s up to you now, isn’t it?
Chris Brown (featuring Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean), “Till I Die”
The biggest single off Breezy’s top-selling Fortune (the follow-up to his F.A.M.E. album), it’s a stony, synth slab of R&B swagger, with equally salacious — and smoked-out — contributions from Wiz and Sean. This one definitely wouldn’t pass an Olympic drug test.
Frank Ocean, “Thinking About You”
Sonorous, sublimely sad track taken from his critically acclaimed Channel Orange album, it packs a wallop despite its minimal production. That’s due mainly to Ocean’s chilly falsetto, which is more pained than postured and twice as powerful — no matter who he’s singing about . With this tune, Ocean not only clears his own space in the R&B game, but proves there’s really no one else who even comes close.
John Legend (featuring Ludacris), “Tonight”
Earlier this year, Legend told MTV News that “Tonight” was about “seduction and swagger and confidence,” and, uh, he wasn’t lying. Luda lends an assist, but it’s Legend who’s the star here, though he remains as humble as ever. Even after he proclaims himself “the best you’ve ever had,” he’s quick to add, “I don’t want to brag.”
Not content to let the fellas have all the fun, JoJo strikes a blow for the ladies — and continues her unlikely reinvention — with this sultry track. Featuring artfully sparse production from Noah “40″ Shebib and some pulse-quickening vocals from the former teen pop star, this one would make us sweat even if it weren’t the middle of summer.
Leah LaBelle, “Sexify”
Former “American Idol” also-ran discovers her sweet spot with the classy, brassy “Sexify.” At its heart, this is a classic throwback track, but it’s also forward-thinking enough to serve notice that LaBelle may be here to stay. From her looks to the song’s hooks, we can’t get enough — and we can’t wait to hear what she does next.
R. Kelly, “Feelin’ Single”
The man, the myth, the legend: Kelly adds another chapter to his already impressive career with “Feelin’ Single,” a strutting, stepping, sunny ode to (what else?) the ladies. These days, he’s exploring the roots of R&B and soul, and the genres’ refined sensibilities suit him just fine. But regardless of what he chooses to sing, when he puts his mind to it, there’s no one better in the business. All hail the king.
Robin Thicke, “All Tied Up”
He remains one of the most underappreciated talents in R&B, but if Thicke is feeling unloved, you wouldn’t know it from this track, which swaggers along on a classic R&B groove and showcases his velvety-smooth upper register. When he sings, “Make love to my ego,” it’s less of an invitation and more of a demand. It’s a good look for him.
The-Dream (featuring Pusha T), “Dope Chick”
The heir to R. Kelly’s hornball empire gets busy here, fiending for his fix of females. Pusha T adds some weight to the proceedings (as does Fabolous on a recent remix), and the beat is a blast, but really, this is The-Dream doing what he does best: working himself up into a lascivious lather, all while extolling the virtues of his latest conquest. We can only assume it won’t be long until he’s jonesing for another hit.
Trey Songz (featuring T.I.), “2 Reasons”
He may claim to have invented sex, but rather than continue to boast, this time Songz just wants to have some fun. And the end result is his party-approved ode to excess (and sex-cess), complete with a comeback appearance from T.I. He’s only got two reasons to be out in the club tonight — they’re both “the ladies,” btw — but, hey, you can’t argue with his singular focus. Even when he’s doubling up.
Sure, he’s a triple threat, but Ush is at his best when he turns his attention back to his one true love: namely, making love. Bold and boastful, with a thumping, club-ready beat, “Scream” is everything you could possibly want in a summertime smash — not to mention everything we’ve come to expect from Mr. Raymond IV.
Forget about the Olympics: Vote now in MTV’s Summer Jam Games! Polls are open and will close at midnight ET Sunday (August 5). Guide your favorites to golden glory, and help spread the word via Twitter, using the hashtag #SummerJamGames.