Top 5 Songs from Elle Varner’s Debut Album ‘Perfectly Imperfect’

Elle Varner Perfectly Imperfect

Elle Varner Perfectly Imperfect
As she came in the game with a beat and bounce (word to Azealia Banks), the Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Elle Varner proved she had star power with the J. Cole-assisted “Only Wanna Give It To You,” the quirky and catchy “Refill,” and the luscious “I Don’t Care.”

Whether it was her jazzy vocals, relatable storytelling, or overall cool-girl-from-around-the-way persona, Varner successfully pulled us in and unveiled her magic to us on her debut album, aptly titled Perfectly Imperfect.

In celebration of the album’s 5th anniversary, we’ve selected a handful of her best songs from her RCA Records debut. Here are our Top 5 songs:


Ms. Varner is every woman and it’s all in her on this slow-burning deep cut. Varner lets her lover know what she can do, be and accomplish as his woman on this Oak & Pop-produced record. “So when you go into a storm/I will be there, protect you/I will the shoot the wave down/I’ll come around, surround you / With a light I’ve never shown/I will be there lighter than a leaf in your pocket/I’ll be the air,” she sings. What makes this a standout is that it’s (arguably) the smoothest record on the album, which is due to the funky bass and stunning tenderness in her voice. This would’ve been a nice pick for the fourth and final single, as the song is as breezy as a cool, autumn night.

“Not Tonight”

If Brandy’s “Have You Ever” had a twin, it would definitely be this album cut from Perfectly Imperfect. On the Pop & Oak and Jimmy Varner produced track, Elle describes her feelings of undying love to her true love, which is unfortunately unbeknownst to him. “Maybe, maybe in another life/I could be the girl who walks up to the guy/And tells him, tells him how she feels inside/But not tonight, tonight,” she sings. Although Elle’s pen game is always on point, it definitely shows here through the vividness and honesty in the verses. Pair that with a beautiful, Prince-esque electric guitar and Elle’s finest vocal showing, and we definitely have a winner.


Who knew a hip-hop bass line, staccato drum machine, and a fiddle’s riff on a continuous loop could make for one of the best R&B songs of this decade? Elle, in all of her “giggling” and “fumbling” glory, effortlessly tells the story of where all love first begins: the initial attraction. “Wishin’ and hopin’ that I don’t blow it/I’m nervous as hell/I don’t wanna show it/And right now I don’t even know what I’m saying,” she sings. Outside of its uniquely genius sound (crafted by R&B hitmakers Andrew “Pop” Wansel and DJ Camper), it stands as the perfect follow-up to her lead single “Only Wanna Give It To You.” This record showcased a sexier side of her artistry, but, at the song’s core, remained her best quality: her knack for storytelling.

“I Don’t Care”

Led by a beautiful sample of Kool & The Gang’s “Little Children,” Elle tells the story of love in its purest form. “Clearly I’m gone and I’m going/Into the deep end/Far over my head/It’s so unfair/I’m gone and its showing/All over my skin/Everyone knows gone and it shows/But I don’t care,” she sings. The song’s sound is lush and sonically pleasing, but why it makes this list is how the story of the song is told in its music video, which is filled with beautiful images of same-sex and interracial relationships juxtaposed with the hatred experienced by both groups, bringing this groovy house party jam to life.

“Damn Good Friends”

Driven by an acoustic guitar, Elle is willing and ready to leave the friend zone on the album’s penultimate track. “Two puzzles/Identical with the same piece/Missing from both never complete/Never achieving our true perfection/So why go scour the Earth for missed piece/Maybe the piece is in our kiss/Maybe the answers in my direction,” she sings. Written and produced solely by her and her father, Jimmy Varner, this track could almost serve as a back story for its preceding track “Welcome Home,” which was also written and produced by the Varners. The lyrical game is always Elle’s to play, but it’s the way she wields her voice with the perfect mix of romanticism, admiration, and frustration that makes this one a shining star on an already bright album.

What’s are some of your favorites from Perfectly Imperfect? Do you agree with our list? What song(s) did we miss? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Brandy Covers ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles’

Brandy decides to be “Brave” and release a rendition of Sara Bareilles’ 2013 single. And what do you know, it sounds awesome — like we knew it would be.

The vocal athlete makes the uplifting anthem her own, as she sings, “You can be amazing / You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug / You can be the outcast / Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love.”

Brandy shared a clip on Twitter Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 9) of her singing her version of Sara’s inspirational song. “#brave is what I have to be to live the life I am meant to live. What a beautiful song,” she wrote.

Although the cover is less than 2 minutes, it caught the attention of the Little Voice singer.

Listen to Brandy’s short but sweet version of “Brave” below.

5 UK R&B Artists to Watch in 2018

Here at Rated R&B, our mission is to deliver interesting and engaging content on the R&B genre of music. R&B talent comes in many different shapes and sizes and sometimes comes from different countries as well. You’ve heard of Jessie J, Marsha Ambrosius, and Daley, but in this piece, we’re going to put you on the game to the most exciting up-and-coming R&B artists in the United Kingdom. With voices that liken to Ariana Grande and Eric Bellinger, there’s surely an artist on this shortlist that’ll pique your interest. Check out our list of the 5 R&B UK Artists to Watch in 2018 below:

Mabel McVey UK R&B Artist 2018

Mabel McVey

Polydor Records-signee Mabel came in with a bang in 2017 when her hit single “Finder’s Keepers” reached the Top 10 on the UK Singles chart. The song, which features rapper Kojo Funds, also peaked at No. 2 on the UK R&B Singles Chart. Her breezy vocals, pop radio appeal, and charming style are on trend, and she already has found Top 40 success in her latest collaboration with UK artist Not3s entitled “My Lover (Remix).” If you like what you hear in the video below, check out Mabel’s 2017 EP Bedroom, which is available on all digital platforms.

Angel UK R&B Artist 2018


Angel’s career blasted off with a string of hits in 2012, including UK Singles Top 10 earner and UK R&B Songs chart-topper “Wonderful.” Now signed to Motown Records, the London-born singer dropped consistently catchy tunes in 2017, including the SWV-interpolated and Eugene Wilde-sampled “Take You Home.” If he can continue this upward trajectory and his formula of mainstream sounds with a 90s R&B twist, Angel could very well land a solid radio hit by year’s end.

Jorja Smith UK R&B Artist 2018

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith was one of the buzziest artists of 2017 thanks to her features on Canadian rapper Drake’s multi-platinum album More Life. In addition to her criminally underrated summer collaboration with Kali Uchis called “Tyrant,” Smith also made some noise this past year with her 90s underground-esque banger “On My Mind.” Her knack for showing vulnerability whilst keeping her alluring mystique has set her up for riding off into the sunset of success in 2018!

Jacob Banks UK R&B Artist 2018

Jacob Banks

Banks broke big in 2014 for his assist of Chase and Status’ “Alive,” which peaked at No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart. Banks’ gruff and smoky vocals have been used in promotions across the globe, including popular sports game “FIFA 15” and popular TV shows like STARZ’s Power and USA’s Suits. After the release of his 2017 EP The Boy Who Cried Freedom, Banks is more confident than ever and ready to make a splash in 2018.

Ella Mai UK R&B Artist 2018

Ella Mai

Ella Mai might be the most recognizable name on this list, and that’s because this woman has been working! After a stint on the 11th series of X Factor UK in 2014, the singer signed with DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers label. She’s released not one, not two, but three EPs in a year’s time, and was recently one of the featured acts on Kehlani’s 2017 “SweetSexySavage World Tour,” which ended its run in November. Now working on her debut album and kicking off 2018 with a fresh single, Ella Mai is just one hit away from her big break, and if her current sound and relatable lyrics have anything to do with it, then she is well on her way.

Who’s your favorite artist on this shortlist? Let us know in the comment section below!

From 2008: R&B Albums That Turn 10 This Year

Another ten years has caught up with us in the realm of R&B music.

Let’s jog your memory for a minute. For starters, 2008 saw Mariah Carey touch the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the 18th time with “Touch My Body.” Usher showed his strength by “Moving Mountains,” while Beyoncé led ladies to the club, singing, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.”

We heard the debut projects from Day26, Jennifer Hudson, Tiffany Evans and Jazmine Sullivan. Also, 2008 ended listeners music drought from veterans Deborah Cox, Ashanti, Keith Sweat and Brandy.

Rated R&B has compiled a list of 31 R&B/soul albums that celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018.

Randomness: On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won presidency, becoming the first African-American to be elected as President of the United States.

Raheem DeVaughn — Love Behind the Melody
Release Date: January 15
Record Label: Jive Records
Singles: “Woman,” “Customer” and “Text Messages”

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