Miguel is Exhibit A for why this label just doesn’t work. For one, he’s got a pretty sizable mainstream (read: not hipster/online-only) following courtesy of massive hits like “All I Want Is You” and “Sure Thing”. Both fit perfectly into the modern R&B landscape and are of a quality that should guarantee longevity. Oh, and “Sure Thing” was the most popular R&B/hip-hop song of 2011. “Quickie”? Not so much, but it’s still a reasonably strong let’s-fuckin’-fuck-for-fuck’s-sake jam.
Now rewind to earlier this year and the singer formerly known as Miguel Jontel—yes, that was him on Below The Heavens—is gaining more love from the “indie rock” bunch with his Art Dealer Chic EPs. Why? Probably because tracks like “Adorn”, “That I Do”, and “Ooh Aah!” are undeniable jams with a capital J. But as low-key releases for his fans and internet music nerds, the tracks flew under the mainstream radar. Only recently did ”Adorn” become a radio single.
This brings me to what must be the reason why folks are suddenly saying Miguel appeals to “hipsters”: he dropped three projects in a row for FREE and switched up his sound a bit. Sonically, he traded in saccharine-tinged, synthesizer-loving pop for something more mature and progressive. But come on, it’s still the same artist getting the same love from both his hipster and non-hipster core fans who fell hard for “All I Want Is You” in early 2011.
Am I to believe that an artist embracing a new sound with free projects is suddenly hipster bait? That mentality, in my opinion, is both lazy and damaging. It marginalizes the artist’s output to the effect of stating, for one, that only the cool kids are into it. Not only that, but it implies the music is watered down because, let’s be honest, PBR is basically carbonated water that gets you drunk. Beyond all that, the PBR&B term would lead you to believe that you would only see hipsters frolicking around at a Miguel, Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, etc… concert. While I’ve never personally attended one of their shows, I’ve seen more than enough live footage to argue otherwise.