There were a number of considerations militating against this choice of song. For one, it was only three months ago that we last featured him with ‘Strange Clouds‘, the title track of his forthcoming (May 1) sophomore album. Back then, too, I was celebrating ‘Strange Clouds’ as a brave change of direction for Bobby Ray who, particularly after his seemingly facile verse on Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’, could have stuck closely to what he knew and produced a second album as keenly on the pop pulse as his first, ‘The Adventures Of Bobby Ray’, but instead went slightly psychedelic, very drum and bass alongside Lil Wayne. More than that, the selection will probably garner some unwanted attention from Brother J who is consistently sceptical of my refined taste in Top 40 hits (he should consider himself lucky, I could’ve on his ass). Finally, given all the songs on the album with big feature stars (Andre 3K, Taylor Swift, T.I.) this one stands out as one of the least exciting, with nary a household name in sight to bolster interest.
But even with a chorus sung by B.o.B. (potentially pitch-adjusted the hell out of but verifiably him and impressive like most other rappers who think they can sing aren’t) and the sort of sappy lyrics that played perfectly into a promotional trailer for the song that dropped on Valentine’s Day, I find it increasingly difficult to hear this song on the radio and not turn it up, crank the window down and do a bit of a wind-riding move with my right arm. True, this is not B.o.B. breaking new ground – if anything, ‘So Good’ sees him regressing from the progressive sound of ‘Strange Clouds’ – but it’s the way that he treads old ground, so familiar and confident in the folds of the sort of love song that launched his career in the first instance that makes the track so easy to listen to. He might well have an alternate career as a legitimate Southern thug figure but something about the way he sounds on ‘So Good’ suggests B.o.B. won’t be giving up his platinum-selling day job too soon.
What draws me, inevitably, to B.o.B. and his unique brand of pop-rap is that, even with a blatantly commercial tilt, ‘So Good’ sounds like almost nothing on the radio these days. As if B.o.B. was bringing back a bit of the good ol’ days, his tracks are never bombastic or brash in the way so much new pop is. Sticking to the sort of traditional sensibilities that Dev, LMFAO and SwiftKid (hey, hey, hey) could never imagine even in their wildest, genre-annihilating schizoid dreams, B.o.B. puts out songs that are startlingly inoffensive. ‘So Good’ is about the tamest thing to come out of Georgia since, well, ‘Nothin On You’, but doesn’t suffer for that. Bringing Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic fame) on board for production, B.o.B. knows his shtick and has honed it to a fine art. Along the same romance/escapism lines that made (the similarly Tedder-assisted) ‘‘ so swoon-worthy and extended Far East Movement’s shelf-life beyond the G6 seconds they probably deserved, ‘So Good’ makes more out of some light piano chords than you’d ever expect. That feat is mostly down to Bobby Ray who, looking backwards or forwards for inspiration, knows how to turn it into a good song.
B.o.B. – So Good