Last week, only days before this week's performance at the Faena Theater, it was announced that R&B artist-cum-irresistible-sex-symbol Miguel would join Australian pop star Sia for her long-anticipated North American tour in the fall. The arena tour, which will see the Los Angeles-born singer play to some of his largest audiences yet, is the latest in a series of long-overdue
Prior to his breakout album, 2012's lovely Kaleidoscope Dream, the African-Mexican-American artist was subjected to the sort of career setbacks that would spell certain doom for any lesser talent. Album delays and cancellations brought about by label switch-overs and legal woes kept Miguel fixed firmly to the trappings of a cult act for much of the 2000s. While the small but passionate audience that formed after 2010's All I Want Is You was well-earned, album highlights "Sure Thing" and "Teach Me" indicated that bigger and better things were waiting for the singer.
With the release of his Grammy-winning single "Adorn" in 2012, Miguel became the capable, fully formed artist his previous work had only hinted at. Miguel's breakthrough arrived contemporaneously with those of the Weeknd and Frank Ocean, two other artists whose early 2010s mixtapes have defined the sounds of R&B in the ensuing decade.
Since that time, a consistently clickbait-y (not to mention reductive) debate has emerged concerning who among the triumvirate can lay claim to cultural dominance. On internet message boards and YouTube comments, this ongoing dialogue has become the R&B equivalent to the fabled SNES vs. Genesis console wars of the mid-90s. That is to say, the argument has led to more than its fair share of name-calling and bruised egos.
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But for argument's sake, we'll bite: While the radio silence following 2012's beloved Channel Orange has given Ocean a considerable edge in mystique, and the Weeknd dominates both the charts and genre-wide influence, Miguel has both of them beat — by a fairly wide margin — when it comes to consistency. Although lacking the same immediately gratifying hooks of its predecessor, last year's Wildheart proved to be a worthy followup to Kaleidoscope Dream. By contrast, despite transforming him from a hood Lothario to global pop sensation, the Weeknd's post-Trilogy albums, Kiss Land and Beauty Behind the Madness, cannot stake the same claim. As for Ocean, he hasn't said much of anything in four years.
Miguel has shown time and again to be adept at translating the sensitivity and sensuality that suffuses his records into a captivating live performance. If his upcoming show at the Faena Theater will be anywhere as hot or satisfying as Wildheart's lead single, "Coffee," you should dress lightly, or maybe not at all.