Those who've stuck with me over recent months will know that one of my common beefs with latter day R&B/hip hop is that, taken in bulk it all starts to sound much of a muchness. If it wants to catch my Philistine ears then an entry in this genre is going to need a hook or selling point to elevate it out of the crowd. And with a sampled chorus of Bobby Vinton's 1964 hit 'Mr Lonely' sped up until Mr Vinton sounds like either Mr Pinky or Mr Perky, then hat's one thing 'Lonely' certainly has. It's a starling move that grabs the attention early doors and sets up 'Lonely' as being played for comic effect, but that notion gets dispelled soon as Akon starts up. Which is also where it all starts to unravel.
So why is Akon lonely? "I woke up in the middle of the night and I noticed my girl wasn't by my side"; so, the old story then. And why has she gone? "Been all about the world ain't never met a girl that can take the things that you been through. Never thought the day would come where you would get up and run and I would be out chasing you" and "baby girl I didn't mean to shout, I want me and you to work it out. I never wished I'd ever hurt my baby and it's driving me crazy" - ignoring the sinister overtones of implied domestic violence (which might explain why she made such a silent exit from his bed), it's fair to say that Akon hasn't been a model boyfriend over the years. Which isn't a crime in itself, but what crawls under the skin is Akon's egotistical lyric of self centred chauvinism and rampant self pity that puts his own unhappiness centre stage. Never mind what his unnamed "baby girl" wants - Akon doesn't care and his understanding is whittled down to a plea of "so stop playing girl and come on home". Does anyone need an R&B version of 'Back For Good'? I'd say about as much as Akon deserves our sympathy. To which the answers are 'no' and 'none'. But at the very least, 'Lonely' gets a reaction out of me that goes beyond ho-hum indifference, so it's achieved more than most.