Go to contents

“Melody Is My Strength”

Posted April. 25, 2007 03:16,   


In the 1990s, the most important factor of all in soul music was melody. But nowadays, rhythm centers on the stage. Billboard stars like Timberland, Usher, Ciara play with various rhythms under one main code in their songs. Last year, Justin Timberlake, Puggy, and Nelly Furtado joined this trend and topped the charts with hip hop that has strong rhythm.

But for Ne-Yo, a 25-year-old multi-talented songwriter, melody is still important. Just like his first album, his hotly awaited second album, Because Of You, due May 1, has urban pop ballads. A year ago, his debut album, In My Own Words, and debut single, "So Sick" hit #1 on the Hot 100, Pop 100, Digital Songs charts and various other charts. In a phone interview, he first talked about the melody.

“Trend is important. But people hum and sing the song when it has rich melody. People around the world know my name even though I made a debut just a year ago. I think that’s because of my melody.”

In Korea, his songs “So Sick” and “Sexy Love” reaped 120 million won ($129,380) in sales in digital markets, including ring tones, ring-back tones and MP3s, according to Universal Korea. Most recently, Ne-Yo was credited as a co-writer of Beyonce’s Grammy-contending single, “Irreplaceable,” which topped the Billboard chart for 10 weeks. In just one year, his life has totally changed.

“The best part is that I can get whatever I want, from clothes to shoes. It’s like giving a child more money so that he can spend the whole day playing video games. Haha… just kidding. It was great to be proud of myself by being credited for what I love to do. Of course I have to behave well since people know me. But I really felt the strong power of music.”

But that power burdens him as well. Selling 3 million debut albums in the U.S. market, he has to do better with his second album. As a musician, he wants to impress his audience.

“Above all, I wanted to reflect in my album my reverence for Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder, from whom I got great influence. And some of my fans may have waited a sweet melody like that in “So Sick.” So I first made the melody, as always, and then put rhythm and lyrics on it.”

Twelve songs in his second album include “Because Of You,” a second version of his first title “So Sick”; “Crazy,” featuring rapper Jay-Z; and “Addicted,” combining melody and modern rhythm. The songs have combined the styles of the 1990s and 2000s. Unlike other songwriters such as Musiq Soulchild and Akon, his song has that pop feeling. When I referred to them as his rivals, he said, “It just goes to show that we are comfortable with each other.”

After showing his endless passion for music, he suddenly came up with another unexpected topic: the film “Matrix.” “Isn’t it fabulous that Neo, in the movie, finds out the truth about the Matrix?” He also said he changed his name from Shaffer C. Smith to Ne-Yo as he was impressed by Matrix’s Neo. Still, he is a 25-year-old young man.

Considering the fact that musicians are usually shaped by their songs, I asked him about not singing “So Sick.” He was puzzled. “I’m not going to be sick by singing “So Sick” over and over. But I am still young. Since I was nominated for Grammy this year, I want to win the award with a song that goes beyond “So Sick.” That’s what I want to do with what I love most, music.”