Korede Bello Delivers a Sweet Yet Lackluster Comeback With “Beauty and Bliss”
The biggest question running laps in everyone’s mind is: Where has Korede Bello been all this time? Truthfully, the last time anyone heard from him, he was stringing out hits as a signee under Mavin Records. “Godwin”, “Do Like Dat”, and “Romantic” were widely successful singles, playing on loop at parties, weddings, clubs, and soirees. They even earned him awards like the coveted Headies and a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Gold Certification.
At the peak of his career, he mysteriously disappeared and now, he’s no longer managed by Mavin Records. Allegedly, the reason for his departure from the label was contract expiration without the need for a renewal. Regardless, we did miss his smooth, silky tone. Listening to his voice is like enveloping in a warm blanket and snuggling into it all day.
Bello certainly has a way with words, which is why his album announcement back in July was widely celebrated. “Beauty and Bliss” dropped on Aug.25, and it slightly lived up to the hype. It’s a good album, but it fails to leave an impressionable mark.
When you compare the hit “Godwin” to “Yoga” – the first single off “Beauty and Bliss” – the difference is clear. Perhaps this difference highlights the path that Bello is trying to take with the album. He’s not popping up unexpectedly for Afro-pop validity because his talents align with the R&B movement. And it makes sense because pop music has become repetitive and rarely does an artist’s vocal ability shine through on tracks that are meant for radio spins.
Rhythm and Blues’ singles are what makes the difference between a radio artist and a talented singer. Bello is a talented singer, unbelievably. He doesn’t need to hit Mariah Carey’s notes to prove that. His soft “Justin Bieber in his R&B era” voice is enough to melt hearts. He showcases just how good his vocal chops are in “Full Time”, a sexy, yet vulnerable track where he verbally expresses to his lover that he wants to be exclusive. College love isn’t enough for him because they are getting older. If she’s all in, then he’ll be “here for a long time.” How sweet!
Love tunes are everywhere on this eight-track album and it’s not a bad thing. Singing about love, being open enough to express how you feel about a significant other that you cherish dearly is a huge selling point, not just locally, but internationally. However, the problem with Bello’s loved-up “Beauty and Bliss” is it doesn’t have the IT factor.
The beats sound like films that have been played before, and the ending is something we’ve all seen coming. Mix guitar strings with drums, whistles, and a harmonica and you get the beat of “Maria” which strays away from R&B and into the Afrobeats genre. The same thing is repeated on “Jejeley.” The only differences are the “oooohh” “oooohh” “oooohh” slapped here and there on the latter and the Mr. Eazi assist which is uninteresting and devoid of emotion. Anything longer than his thirty seconds of fame, and it would have been a drag of a song.
But, to “Jejeley’s credit” it’s the most didactic song on the album. Bello speaks nothing but the truth when he sings: “Peace of mind/Na e sure pass.” A lot of people have no peace of mind because they are always trying to compete with their peers, which is another point he makes in the third verse: “When you make one million/And you wan buy benz/Cause your padi get benz/you dey borrow borrow money/Why you no first borrow sense?” Bello’s moral lesson? “Appreciate head wey you get.”
In line with the didactic nature of “Jejeley” he responds to the question that was posed initially with a generic yet purposeful answer: “Me I dey my lane…/I dey run my race.” So, if you’re looking for him, he’s in his zen era.
Following “Jejeley” is “Way Life Goes,” another edifying piece that discusses life changes: family can turn to foe, friends can turn to enemies, and fame can turn into a nightmare. As inevitable as these are, the one thing that should be constant is the bounce back. So, in the words of Bello: “Stand on your ten toes.”
Perhaps he sings from a place of personal reflection, or he may be a perceptive observer of life. Either way, it’s very refreshing to hear his honest perspective on topics that people know are the truth, but fail to acknowledge due to the bubble they have shielded themselves in. The takeaway from this song is the need for self-realization and the importance of standing your ground, no matter the rocks life throws at you.
“Beauty and Bliss” sucks you in with Bello’s smooth vocals, its somewhat catchy hooks, its didactic nature, and honest love songs, but that’s all. It’s hardly exceptional and sadly forgettable, at least for an artist who’s trying to make a comeback in the Nigerian music industry.
What’s missing in this album? A big feature other than the Yemi Alade and Mr. Eazi assists? A remix that sends a warning signal that he’s back? A better production and songwriting team? Whichever it is, know that, as earlier stated, the IT factor is not an ingredient in this album. He does his best obviously, but perhaps that’s just not enough in 2023.
His fans may disagree, but Bello in his “Godwin” era was outstanding. He slayed that gospel-inspired track and made himself a household name, but with “Beauty and Bliss,” he strays too far away from his pop phase, dabbles into R&B, and misses the mark somewhere. Regardless, Bello gets a big A for effort. We definitely missed his presence and hope for more albums in the future.