Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Borderline" by Brandy (2020)

The cover art to Brandy's new single, Borderline.
For a moment in time (i.e. the late 1990s), Brandy was arguably the top female R&B artist in the entire world.  Her second album, Never Say Never (1998), peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200.  Around that same time she established herself as one of the premiere Black actresses in Hollywood, most notably starring on the sitcom Moesha from 1996 to 2001.

Brandy's Never Say Never (1998), arguably her
signature musical project.
However it's safe to say that since then she has fallen off a bit or at least is no longer a trending artist in the music industry.  And yes, such tends to happen naturally to musicians who, like herself, have been in the game for decades.

But as someone who bore witness to her rise and fall, I attribute Brandy's particular case more to her being unable to keep up with the changes in the music industry as a whole.  Or stated more plainly, around the turn of the century R&B music, as well as the artists who dominated the genre, became a lot more sexualized.  Meanwhile back in 2002 Brandy gave birth to her first child, and this was back in the day whereas it was still kinda like if you're a mother you don't get down in certain ways.

This image is of Brandy's 2012 project Two Eleven, which to
date is the sexiest she has ever appeared on an album cover.
She's from the generation of R&B artists such as TLC and
Aaliyah who didn't rely as much on sexual images to sell records
as is standard these days.
And this is not to imply that Brandy has never played the sexuality card.  But let's just say that after becoming a mother she kinda lost her A list status, even though the album she dropped that same year, Full Moon (2002), just fell short of topping the Billboard 200.

But as for me, I'll always be a Brandy fan.  Indeed in my opinion her best album actually came via 2004's Afrodisiac.  So of course I was excited when I surprisingly learned that she dropped a new project just last week, her seventh-stuido album actually, entitled B7.  And concurrently she also released its second single, which is entitled Borderline.

THE VIDEO

The song is cool and an able addition to Brandy's impressive catalog.  However at the moment the music video to the track is making headlines moreso than the audio itself.  Said video can be deemed a work of art and does feature, albeit sparsely, the type of beautiful imagery which are standard in Miss Norwood's videos.  But for the most part, what it actually does is depicts her as a troubled inmate in a mental institution.


In fact overall, the clip is intended to be somewhat of a public service announcement in regards to the prevalence of mental disease in the United States.  And accordingly it concludes with the contact information for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

THE SONG

And where the video may be cool, you'd never know by watching it why the singer is in such a wrecked state in the first place.  You see despite the fact that Brandy is alone throughout the clip, Borderline is in fact a track about a romance and in a roundabout way you can even say a love song.  That is to say that in the lyrics she is addressing her significant other and basically telling him, in her own unique way, how much he means to her.

The chorus of the song is a bit incoherent, most likely by design.
So perhaps another reason she portrays a mad woman in the clip is because the wording of the song itself is a bit "schizo".  In other words they don't seem to be presented in a precisely-logical manner.  Rather the listener can ascertain that the singer's relationship with the addressee indeed has the potential to 'tear her apart'.  Or stated differently, Brandy comes off as someone who is verily stressed out by her lover.  And as you know such people can sometimes be incoherent, for lack of a better word.

But all things considered, the way the situation reads is that she may be the victim of an unreciprocated love.  Or during the third verse at least, it appears that her partner is unfaithful.  So the title of the song actually alludes to her mental health in light of the entire scenario.  Or put more plainly, her sweetheart seems to be driving her crazy.

However where the logical confusion comes in is that some of the lyrics read as if he has already done her dirty, while in others she is warning him not to ever "cheat" on nor "lie" to her.  So I guess ultimately it can be said that the singer is letting her partner know that if he ever does anything to hurt her in a romantic sense, it will indeed have a devastating effect on her emotionally.

And it has been put forth that this song is actually a reflection of Brandy's personal life.  However there is no evidence to support that theory at the moment.  Indeed according to the songstress herself, she recorded this tune primarily because she was really digging it.

THE TEAM

Brandy co-wrote and co-produced Borderline, as did DJ Camper.  The other co-producer is LaShawn Daniels, and the other cowriters are Kaydence, Al Sherrod Lambert and Charlie McAlister.

This track came out on 31 July 2020.  The labels behind it are eOne Music and Brand Nu.  The latter is an entity which was founded by Brandy herself.  And B7 overall marks the first time she released a musical project independently.

The aforementioned music video was formally directed by Derek Blanks, with additional creative contributions from Frank Gatson.

The cover art to Brandy's new album B7.
CONCLUSION

Despite her youthful looks Brandy is in fact a well-tenured artist, having dropped her first album almost 30 years ago.  Accordingly she seems to have developed certain formulas in terms of the style of her music.  So whereas it does not look like B7 is going to be a smash success chart-wise, established fans of Miss Norwood, such as myself, will still likely be pleased with the overall project.

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