Modern R&B ballads aren't so much created as they are conjured, transmitted like electricity through cable lines and radio waves in blasts of wispy melodies and soft sexuality. With the exception of old-school revivalists such as Amy Winehouse, little thought is given to the idea of an R&B auteur. But Las Vegas singer-songwriter Ne-Yo is just that. His voice is sweet and almost cherubic, while his lyrics are slyly complex ("So Sick" criticizes the very type of song it aspires to be). His hits and those he writes for others (Beyoncé's smash "Irreplaceable") are easier to dismiss than they are to forget.


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