US R&B superstar Ne-Yo is undoubtedly one of the biggest musical icons around.
His sixth album, Non-Fiction is due for release in the UK on February 16th, and should cement his position as one of the most talented singers and songwriters currently operating in modern music; alongside his own music, he's written for and collaborated with a host of A-listers, including Rihanna, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and many others.
We caught up with him to discover his Ultimate Playlist - the songs which mean the most to him, and have shaped him as an artist through his career. Read on for some classic, and also unexpected, choices.
Favourite Sad Song
"One that stands out to me - there's a lot of R&B stuff that I used to listen to, especially around my dad - but one that stands out that doesn't fit in with R&B is Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler. That's definitely a really, really sad song. I remember being a kid and listening to that song and having no choice but to cry every time that song came on. Just something about the dynamics in the record that I could feel, even as a kid, even now, I listen to it, there's bits and pieces that kinda connect to your feelings a little bit."
Favourite Song From Your Childhood
"I was definitely...kind of a weird kid I guess because if there was a song that had the right melody, the right lyrics, the right chord progression, it would take me to a place where I would actually cry - I'd be in tears. One which used to do it for me was Suddenly by Billy Ocean, which actually kinda still does! Definitely a song which will put you in touch with your emotions. Another one is Hello by Lionel Richie. I recall sitting in front of the stereo in the house, listening to those records, crying my eyes out, not knowing why I was crying. I remember that."
Favourite Movie Soundtrack
"The soundtrack to the movie Waiting To Exhale was pretty much, completely done by Babyface, who is definitely one of my idols, in regard to songwriting. I don't know how he came up with the songs for the album, I don't know how it happened - whether he watched the film and wrote the music, but that's what it felt like. It felt like every song fitted every situation perfectly. I was an even greater fan of him after that soundtrack came out."
Favourite Club Anthem
"Songs that no matter what's going on, you gotta get up and dance when they come on? Let me see...Michael Jackson - Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - definitely one of those, Frankie Beverley and Maze - Before I Let Go. Michael Jackson's Off The Wall. Usher's U Don't Have To Call."
Favourite Wedding Song
"Songs that get the whole family up - that Frankie Beverley and Maze song - as far as my family is concerned, that'll definitely get them up! And anything from Prince - When Doves Cry - everybody gets up and dances."
Favourite Lyric From A Song
"The song - and again this falls outside the realm of R&B - a song called I Hope You Dance - I think it's a country song, but the entire song is a lyric to live by. "....I hope you dance". Just basically telling a person to slow down and enjoy life, as opposed to just rushing through it, like everybody seems to do now."
Favourite Song That No One Else Knows
"There's a few artists that come to mind: Emiliana Torrini is one. I guess it would fall under electronica. She has a song called Dead Things, that is one of my all-time favourite songs in life. From an album called Rarities that came out in 2010. It's just one of those songs - it's a vibe man, it's an absolute vibe. I don't really know what it is she's talking about in the song, but it's one of those songs where it's like, it's not even so much about what she's talking about, it's just about the way the song makes you feel. I don't know if a lot of people know her stuff but I'm a fan."
Favourite Song From Your Own Music
"There's a song on Non-Fiction called Story Time. The way that I explain it is, it's a lighthearted take on what could be a very serious situation if handled the wrong way. I'm particularly proud of this song because I feel like it's a very well-written song. I like the way that I put the words together on this one. It's an uneasy situation - it's a conversation that's happening in a relationship more often than not, as of late. It's never a comfortable conversation to have, but the song kinda takes the edge off of the situation just a little bit, and I was proud of myself in accomplishing that."
Favourite Current Song
"I like The Weeknd and the stuff that he does. I like the vibe of the stuff he does...it's very vibey, it's very emo. I'm a fan of what he does in his music. I'm also a fan of Drake, a lot of quality stuff coming out of Canada. I'm a fan of a clever writer - it's one thing to just say it, it's another to say it in a way that, y'know, makes a person think, or kinda forces a person to have to think a little bit and I feel like Drake has figured out the grey area between a lyric that is so clever that most people won't understand it and then just flat-out singing it, so that even the simplest of people can get it. He tows the line between the two: it's never too complicated but it's never too simple and that is a skill; that requires skill that a lot of writers nowadays don't have - so shout out to Drake and what it is that he does."