Akon's "Lonely"

'60s crooner Bobby Vinton is back on the radio at double speed.

Published May 23, 2005 6:25PM (EDT)

I doubt that anybody expected to hear Bobby Vinton, the '60s crooner who sang "Blue Velvet," on top 40 radio this summer, but there he was, courtesy of the Senegalese-born R&B and hip-hop singer Akon, who built his latest hit, "Lonely" (iTunes download), around a sample of Vinton singing one of his biggest hits, "Mr. Lonely." Of course, this being an R&B song in 2005, the sample is sped up, a technique that has become extraordinarily prevalent in the last few years, sparked largely by Kanye West, who seems to use it on nearly every song he produces. The thing is, West uses it with a good deal of subtlety, teasing and tweaking the samples so that they can be woven seamlessly into the fabric of the song. Ditto Eminem when he sampled Martika for "Toy Soldiers." Akon's use of the Vinton sample is hilariously blunt, as if he'd just pressed a double-speed button and then started singing. The simplicity of it is appealing, though, and adds to the laid-back charm of Akon's nicely understated vocals. The secret pleasure of this song is the strange, rhythmically unexpected tinkling piano way up high in the background behind Vinton's vocal.

By Salon Staff

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