Pulse (Toni Braxton album)

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Pulse
Studio album by Toni Braxton
Released May 4, 2010 (2010-05-04)
Recorded September 2008–March 2010
Genre R&B, dance-pop, pop
Length 42:18
Label Atlantic
Producer Frank E, David Foster, Vincent Herbert (exec.), Craig Kallman (also exec.), Steve Mac, Harvey Mason, Jr., Darkchild, Oak, Lucas Secon, Troy Taylor, Dapo Torimiro[1]
Toni Braxton chronology
Libra
(2005)
Pulse
(2010)
Love, Marriage & Divorce
(2014)
Singles from Pulse
  1. "Yesterday"
    Released: November 20, 2009
  2. "Hands Tied"
    Released: February 9, 2010
  3. "Make My Heart"
    Released: February 9, 2010

Pulse is the sixth studio album by American R&B singer–songwriter Toni Braxton, released May 4, 2010, on Atlantic Records. It is her first album in five years and serves as her debut for the Atlantic label after signing a new record deal. Production for the album took place during September 2008 to March 2010 and was handled by several record producers, including David Foster, Harvey Mason, Jr., Frank E, Oak, Lucas Secon, and Dapo Torimiro. Pulse features up-tempo songs and R&B ballads with production varying from smooth to dance-based styles.

The album debuted at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 54,000 copies in its first week. It became Braxton's fifth US top-ten album and produced three singles that achieved moderate chart success. Upon its release, Pulse received positive reviews from most music critics. As of February 26, 2014, Pulse has sold 156,000 copies in the United States.[2]

Background[edit]

In October 2009, Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallaman revealed that the label had signed Braxton and had the following to say "Last year [2008], we had the rare opportunity to bring another R&B icon into the Atlantic family, and for me it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Toni Braxton is not only one of the greatest voices of all time, but she is a charismatic superstar with an incredible list of achievements."[3]

Production for the album took place during September 2008 to March 2010 and was handled by several record producers, including David Foster, Harvey Mason, Jr., Frank E, Oak, Lucas Secon, and Dapo Torimiro.[1][4] The entertainment outlet Rap-Up revealed that Braxton's album would feature collaborations with Lucas Secon; Harvey Mason, Jr.; Oak; and Troy Taylor[3] as well as collaborations with Robin Thicke, Trey Songz, Usher[5] and other reported collaborations included Claude Kelly, Frank E, Steve Mac, Dapo Torimiro and David Foster.[3] R&B songwriter and singer Ne-Yo also worked on songs for the album.[6]

Speaking of the thinking behind titling the album 'Pulse', Braxton explained to UK R&B writer Pete Lewis - Deputy Editor of Blues & Soul - in May 2010: "It comes from when I got ill. I went into cardic rehab, and there was this older lady there. She was like 'What are you doing here so young? It must have been your heart. You know what? This is my fourth heart-attack and you're so young, you can't be AFRAID! You can't stop LIVING!'... Then she told me how she'd just got back from holiday with her 40-year-old boyfriend! And because I'd lost hope - the doctors had told me I'd never be able to record again - her conversation was like that heartbeat, that pulse that gave me back the love of life."[7]

Music[edit]

Braxton explained in an interview with Digital Spy that she had recorded around 30 songs and would like to collaborate with Alicia Keys.[4] Braxton also explained the delay of the album: "The album was supposed to come out in February, but we held it back because seven of the ten songs we picked were leaked. We decided to go back to the studio, record four or five more songs and then pick. Now we send everything via Federal Express - nothing's going through the internet - and that's why none of the new songs have leaked so far."[4] The song "Woman" is a cover version of the original song by Delta Goodrem from her 2007 album Delta.[8]

Of the many planned collaborations none made the final album pressings. However, the deluxe edition of the album on the iTunes Store[9] contains several of them as bonus tracks including the remix of "Yesterday" featuring Trey Songz, "The Wave" written by Jesse McCartney and Makeba Riddick, "Stay", "Rewind" and "Yesterday (Cutmore Radio Remix)". It also features the high publicised "Caught (Don't Take Your Hat Off)" featuring Academy Award winning actress Mo'Nique,[10] who appears in the middle of the song with a dramatic monologue.[11]

A collaboration with R&B singer Robin Thicke called "Don't Leave" would have featured on Braxton's vocals with Thicke providing production.[12] Whilst the high profile collaboration with fellow R&B singer Usher also failed to materialize.[5] Amongst reports that Braxton was working with Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, a song tipped to be produced by Darkchild called "Get Loose" was also omitted from the album.[13] Additionally reggae singer Sean Paul recorded some vocals for a remix of "Lookin' At Me" but it is currently unknown what will become of the remix since it is not featured on the album.[14]

Release and promotion[edit]

The album was originally scheduled for release in 2009, but then pushed back to February 2, 2010 before ultimately being released May 4, 2010 on Atlantic Records.[15] Braxton told Rap-Up that the album had been pushed back because seven of the album's ten songs had leaked and so she had decided to go back into the studio to record new songs.[16] The official cover art of the album was released on March 9, 2010.[17] Amazon.com streamed a different song from Pulse each week up until the album's release day.[18] Braxton performed "Make My Heart" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 27, 2010, The Wendy Williams Show and gave an interview on Good Day L.A..[19] On May 3, 2010 she performed "Hands Tied" and "Breathe Again" on The Mo'Nique Show.[20] "Hands Tied" was also performed on May 4, 2010 on The Today Show along with her most successful single "Un-Break My Heart".[21]

Singles[edit]

The first single "Yesterday" was released digitally November 20, 2009. A version featuring Trey Songz was also released with the latter serving as the US single whilst the former was serviced internationally. It peaked at number 12 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

It was then confirmed that she would film videos for two new singles: "Hands Tied" and "Make My Heart" with director Bille Woodruff who worked with Braxton previously including on the video for "Unbreak My Heart" and "He Wasn't Man Enough".[22] The video for "Make My Heart" premiered on April 13[23] whilst the video for "Hands Tied" was released on April 14, 2010.[24] "Hands Tied" has so far peaked at No. 29 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[25][26]

The music video for the song "Woman" premiered June 28, 2010, on Yahoo! Music. The video shows a live performance of the song.[27]

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 54,000 copies, making it Braxton's fifth US top-ten album.[28] It also entered at number one on Billboard '​s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[29] In its second week Pulse drop to number No. 22 and sold 16,588 in the US. On the third week, the album drop to No. 41. In Canada, Pulse debuted at number 72 on the Top 100 Albums chart,[30] and in the United Kingdom, it debuted at number 28 on the Top 40 Albums and at number seven on the R&B Albums chart.[31][32]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (71/100)[33]
Review scores
Source Rating
411Mania (6.5/10)[34]
About.com 3/5 stars[35]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[36]
Billboard (favorable)[37]
BBC Music (mixed)[38]
The Boston Globe (favorable)[39]
Robert Christgau (dud)[40]
Los Angeles Times 2/4 stars[41]
USA Today 3/4 stars[42]
The Washington Post (favorable)[43]

Upon its release, the album received positive reviews from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 71/100 from Metacritic.[33] Allmusic writer Andy Kellman gave it 4 out of 5 stars and commended its material's themes, noting "a high level of conviction that does not waver, and it's particularly impressive given that the album covers so many stages of a romantic relationship".[36] USA Today '​s Steve Jones gave the album 3 out of 4 stars and viewed it as "a return to form" for Braxton.[42] Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe gave Pulse a positive review and wrote favorably of its execution, stating "Braxton and her star producers and songwriters mix old-school R&B balladry and modern dance pop while always keeping that luxurious voice as the focus".[39]

In contrast, Los Angeles Times writer Mikael Wood gave it 2 out of 4 stars and expressed a mixed response to "her attempt to keep up with" contemporary R&B artists, writing that "the flimsy material can't quite conceal her hit-hungry desperation".[41] BBC Music's Natalie Shaw shared a similar sentiment, writing that the album "misfires when its slower numbers are interspersed with uptempo tracks ready-made for the younger market".[38] Mark Edward Nero of About.com gave the album 3 out of 5 stars and wrote that "no new ground is broken, no significant risks are taken and the album as a whole is doesn't really have any must-hear tracks", but recommended it to listeners of Braxton's previous work and noted that she "can still sing strongly and passionately".[35] The Washington Post '​s Sarah Godfrey commended the album's "club tracks" and wrote favorably of Braxton's "trusty album architecture of scorching dance songs, soft-focused up-tempo ballads and "Un-Break My Heart"-style tear-jerkers without going too over-the-top".[43]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Yesterday"   Justin Franks, Jerome Armstrong, Michael White, Terrance Battle, Toni Braxton DJ Frank E 3:48
2. "Make My Heart"   Lucas Secon, Makeba Riddick, Joseph Freeman, Aubreya Gravatt, Theodore Life, Jr. Lucas Secon 3:27
3. "Hands Tied"   Harvey Mason, Jr., Warren Felder, Heather Bright Oak, Harvey Mason, Jr. 3:53
4. "Woman" (Delta Goodrem cover) Steve Mac, Wayne Hector Steve Mac, David Foster 3:51
5. "If I Have to Wait"   busbee, Jud Friedman, Allan Rich, Braxton Busbee 3:56
6. "Lookin' at Me"   Secon, Riddick Lucas Secon 3:20
7. "Wardrobe"   Dernst Emile, Taurian Shropshire, Mason, Jr. D'Mile 3:31
8. "Hero"   Mason, Kara DioGuardi, Kasia Livingston, James Fauntleroy II, Steve Russell Harvey Mason, Jr. 4:32
9. "No Way"   Michael Warren Michael Warren 3:31
10. "Pulse"   Charles Harmon, Christopher Jackson Chuck Harmony, Simon Franglen 3:47
11. "Why Won't You Love Me"   Braxton, Mason, Jr. Harvey Mason, Jr., Toni Braxton 4:42
Total length:
42:18

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Pulse adapted from liner notes.[48]

Charts[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
Australian Urban Albums Chart[49] 22
Austrian Albums Chart[50] 32
Canadian Albums Chart[30] 72
Dutch Albums Chart[51] 83
European Top 100 Albums[52] 31
German Albums Chart[53] 18
Greek Albums Chart[51] 14
South African Albums Chart[54] 12
Swiss Albums Chart[50] 9
UK Albums Chart[31] 28
UK R&B Chart[32] 7
US Billboard 200[28] 9
US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[29] 1

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray by B.o.B
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
May 22, 2010
Succeeded by
Raymond v. Raymond by Usher

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Catalog
United States May 4, 2010[17] Atlantic Records 075678959301
Canada[55]
Germany[55] May 7, 2010 Warner Music
Poland[56] 7567893027
Australia May 8, 2010[55]
The Netherlands[55]
United Kingdom[57][58] May 10, 2010 Atlantic Records (UK) 756789302
Worldwide[55] Warner Music
South Korea[59] WKPD-0155
Mexico[60] May 18, 2010 75678930270
Japan[47] May 26, 2010 WPCR-13837
Brazil[61] May 27, 2010 75678930270
South Africa[62] May 28, 2010

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Caulfield, Keith (February 26, 2014). "'Frozen' Earns Most Weeks At No. 1 For A Soundtrack Since 'Titanic'". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
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  8. ^ Woman Enough"www.werarepopslags.co.uk". "retrieved April 14, 2010".
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External links[edit]