Brandy and Monica’s 1998 duet “The Boy Is Mine” proved to be a smash-hit single the summer of its release, sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking thirteen weeks and ultimately becoming the the top-selling song of the year. And yet for all of its success, the careers of the two teenage singers at its center never fulfilled their initial promise, with sales of their subsequent records failing to live up to the expectations set by their commercially fruitful late-’90s collaboration. Now they’re “back”, we’ve been told, with a new collaboration – though unfortunately for them, “It All Belongs To Me” doesn’t seem likely to launch the singers-cum-reality stars back to where they’d clearly like to be – on top.
While neither Brandy nor Monica really have much left to lose at this point in their respective music careers, the main problem with the concept of getting the two R&B songstresses back together circa 2012 is that too much time has passed since “The Boy Is Mine” debuted to really make it viable as a comeback vehicle. “It All Belongs To Me” will, of course, drum up some nostalgia dollars from those who can actually remember when their earlier collaboration became a ubiquitous phenomenon in the world of late-’90s pop, but I doubt the younger set (say, anyone under 25 or so) much cares either way about a Brandy/Monica reunion. The track itself doesn’t help matters.
This time around, the two ladies aren’t at each other’s throats but instead find themselves on the same side as they tell their no-good lovers to get the hell out but to leave their things – because, after all, “It All Belongs To Me”. Or them.
One immediately problematic element here is that, sexist as it may sound, “It All Belongs To Me” lacks the simmering promise of a “catfight” between two women who refuse to give an inch in their battle over the same man – one big reason why “The Boy Is Mine” proved so successful (rumors of an actual feud between the pair at the time also helped). Had they found a way to thematically link this track to their previous hit in more than a glancing way (its been billed as a “sequel” of sorts but certainly doesn’t deliver on that assertion in any meaningful fashion) it might have been more interesting, but as is it simply feels at least ten years too late.
Musically, there’s not much to latch onto here. While Brandy and Monica’s voices are still just as strong as they were back in the day, the Rico Love-written and produced track sounds quite dated (slipping in a Facebook reference doesn’t make that any less apparent), with its amalgamation of canned piano, drums and electric guitar giving off a pro forma feel. While “It All Belongs To Me” isn’t bad enough to be awful, exactly, its unspeakable dullness somehow makes one wish that it were. If the ladies were indeed looking for a comeback, they needed to come out with a much stronger single than this.
My grade for the track: D+. Listen to it below and then rate it for yourself at top left!
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