Perfectly Imperfect

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Perfectly Imperfect
Elle P*IMP.jpeg
Studio album by Elle Varner
Released August 7, 2012
Recorded 2011–12
Genre R&B[1]
Label RCA
Producer Gabrielle Varner (exec.) Jimmy Varner (co-exec.), Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Warren "Oak" Felder, DJ Camper, The Chess Klub, The Varners, Ronald "Flippa" Colson, Al "Shux" Shuckburgh, The Star Island Group
Elle Varner chronology
Conversational Lush
Perfectly Imperfect
Singles from Perfectly Imperfect
  1. "Only Wanna Give It to You"
    Released: August 16, 2011
  2. "Refill"
    Released: January 31, 2012
  3. "I Don't Care"
    Released: July 16, 2012
  4. "Oh What a Night"
    Released: August 3, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Elle Varner. It was released on August 7, 2012, under RCA and MBK Entertainment. Recording sessions for the album took place at Jungle City Studios in New York City, Soulstar Studios in Brooklyn, Larrabee Sound Studio in North Hollywood, and Skip Saylor Studios in Northridge, California.[2] For the production of the album Varner enlisted writers and producers including Jermaine Lamar Cole, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Warren "Oak" Felder, Frankie Storm and Darrhyl Camper.

Three singles preceded the album's release, "Only Wanna Give It to You", featuring American rapper J. Cole, "Refill", released on January 31, 2012 and "I Don't Care", released on July 16, 2012.


At the age of 16, Varner picked up the guitar for the first time. Frustrated for the fact, she wasn't instantly successful, she dropped the guitar and became a part of Alexander Hamilton High School's Academy of Music's Vocal Jazz Group. Once there, she learned about the complexity of the voice, jazz music and talented jazz artists Ella Fitzgerald. Varner was surprised to discover, she had been chosen to be a part of The Grammy in the Schools Mentoring Program. Through this program she was taken weekly to the Fox Studio, where she met with mentor Kelly Burgos, and President of Fox Music, Robert Kraft. With that, Varner applied to NYU and was accepted. Not only did she get in, but also she was admitted into the second class of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. Upon graduating, she was awarded "most likely to get signed" and "most likely to win a Grammy." Four years later, she finds herself a well-rounded and cultured singer-songwriter.[3] In 2008, Varner graduated from NYU's renowned Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music.[3]

In October 2009, she signed with MBK/J-RCA Records, along with a co-publishing agreement with Sony Music.[4] After honing her skills even further, Varner became one of the first artists featured in BET's Music Matters campaign for 2010. As she prepares to take her place on center stage, Elle Varner sees no limit to her possibilities. “I think every girl dreams of being famous and enjoying all of the hoopla that comes with it, but at this point in my life, I know like I know my name that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says. “I’ve been blessed with the tremendous gift of music and it’s my responsibility to share it with the world. I see big things in the future”.[5] When asked in an interview what is to be expected from her debut, Varner said in a statement: “a lot of color, a lot of range. There’s fun songs, emotional songs, deep songs, everything you could think about is on that album.”[6]


The album's lead single "Only Wanna Give It to You" was released on August 16, 2011.[7] The song features Varner's friend, American rapper J. Cole and peaked at #20 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. On October 4, 2011, Varner appeared on BET's 106 & Park to premier the video for "Only Wanna Give It to You". The song received good critiques comparing the song to Mary J. Blige and Method Man's 1995 hit "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By". They give praise to the Oak & Pop heavily influenced beat and Varner's vocals stating "Varner puts her distinctly unique voice on full display, laying down charismatic vocals declaring that she loves her man even more than her shoes".[8]

"Refill", was included on the mixtape. The single was released in its entirety on January 31, 2012.[9] The song peaked at number 10 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.[10]



On January 23, 2012, Varner released a mixtape, titled Conversational Lush as promotion for the album.[11] The mixtape serves as her first full-length project, and includes production from J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Bei Maejor, Andrew "Pop" Wansel and Warren "Oak" Felder. A snippet of the album's second single "Refill", was included on the mixtape. "EV" contains a sample from "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" as performed by Jay-Z, written by Shawn Carter. "32 Flavors" contains a sample/cover of "32 Flavors" by Ani DiFranco, written by Ani DiFranco and "Runaway" contains a sample from Lovely Day by Bill Withers, written by Bill Withers and Skip Scarborough.

Promotional singles[edit]

On February 7, 2012, "So Fly", one of Varner's earliest recordings was officially released via iTunes. The song, which serves as a promotional single, was also included on her debut mixtape.[12]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[13]
Memphis Flyer A[14]
MSN Music A–[15]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[16]

Perfectly Imperfect debuted at number four on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 33,000 copies in the United States.[17] It also debuted at number two on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[18] As of October 20, 2012, Perfectly Imperfect has charted for ten weeks on the Billboard 200.[19] First Lady Michelle Obama enjoyed the album after her daughter Malia introduced it to her.[20]

In a positive review for Rolling Stone, Maura Johnston called Perfectly Imperfect "confident and catchy" with interesting musical elements and said that Varner sings in a way that underscores "the plain-spoken nature of her lyrics".[16] Sarah Godfrey from The Washington Post felt that the album is exceptional because of its balance between "mainstream tracks and the edgier songs".[21] Allmusic editor Andy Kellman believed that comparisons of Varner to Chrisette Michele and Jazmine Sullivan as unavoidable, but that her songwriting is unique and conveys her feelings in "such imaginative and clever ways".[13] George Lang of The Oklahoman praised the album's "organic delivery and sensibilities", and asserted that "Varner could be the real thing, a singer who can bridge the gap between the sweet soul of the past and the tech-enabled pop of modern chart singles."[22]

In The New York Times, Nate Chinen wrote that Varner is appropriately modest in her songwriting, which can account for "no moments on this album in which she sounds indecorous, imperious or inhuman."[23] Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer wrote that Varner "nails one purposeful, personality-packed song after another ... nine of which are distinct and memorable after only a few listens."[14] Writing for MSN Music, Robert Christgau found Varner "funny" and "disciplined" as a songwriter, "especially by the standards of r&b divas who share management with Lauryn and Alicia". He added that with the help of well crafted hooks from her collaborators, "she hones her God-given vocal intensity with no recourse to belting or melisma, and she keeps the grit under control".[15] Christgau later ranked Perfectly Imperfect number 32 on his list of the year's best albums for The Barnes & Noble Review.[24]

Track listing[edit]


No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Only Wanna Give It to You" (featuring J. Cole) Elle Varner, Jermaine Lamar Cole, Warren "Oak" Felder, Frankie Storm, Andrew "Pop" Wansel, Marcel Hall, Marlon Williams Oak & Pop 3:57
2. "Refill" E. Varner, A. Wansel, Darhyl Camper Pop, DJ Camper 4:00
3. "Sound Proof Room" E. Varner, Adrien Baker, A. Wansel, Roy Morgan, Felder Oak & Pop 3:07
4. "I Don't Care" E. Varner, A. Wansel, Claydes Smith, Dennis Thomas, Donna Johnson, George Brown, Robert Bell, Robert Mickens, Ronald Bell, Felder Oak & Pop 3:06
5. "Not Tonight" E. Varner, A. Wansel, Jimmy Varner, Felder Oak & Pop, J. Varner 4:56
6. "Leaf" Varner, A. Wansel, Donald Meadows, Tanisha Broadwater, Felder Oak & Pop 3:17
7. "Oh What a Night" Varner, Alexander Shuckburgh Al "Shux" Shuckburgh 3:20
8. "Stop the Clock" E. Varner, A. Wansel, Dexter Wansel, Donald Meadows, Tanisha Broadwater Pop 4:05
9. "Welcome Home" E. Varner, J. Varner J. Varner & E. Varner 4:09
10. "Damn Good Friends" E. Varner, J. Varner J. Varner & E. Varner 3:59
11. "So Fly" E. Varner, Allan Fox, A. Wansel, Felder Oak & Pop 3:37
Total length: 41:33


Credits for Perfectly Imperfect adapted from Allmusic.[26]


Chart (2012) Peak
US Billboard 200[27] 4
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[28] 2
US Digital Albums[29] 4
Japanese Albums Chart[30] 111


  1. ^ Reeves, Mosi (August 7, 2012). "Elle Varner, Perfectly Imperfect". Rhapsody. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  2. ^ "Elle Varner - Perfectly Imperfect CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Archived from the original on 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  3. ^ a b Introducing Elle Varner. Retrieved on 2012-05-24.
  4. ^ "Elle Varner Signs to Sony Music Publishing". KOAR: The Kings of A&R. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  5. ^ Biography. Retrieved on 2012-07-26.
  6. ^ Elle Varner Lights Up ’106 & Park’. (2012-03-29). Retrieved on 2012-05-24.
  7. ^ [1]. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Elle Varner - Only Wanna Give It To You
  9. ^ [2]. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ iTunes - Music - So Fly - Single by Elle Varner. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Kellman, Andy. "Perfectly Imperfect - Elle Varner". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  14. ^ a b Herrington, Chris (December 6, 2012). "Record Reviews: Miguel and Elle Varner". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (August 24, 2012). "Elle Varner/Saint Etienne". MSN Music. Microsoft. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  16. ^ a b Johnston, Maura (October 17, 2012). "Perfectly Imperfect". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  17. ^ Caulfield, Keith (August 15, 2012). "'Now 43' Tops Billboard 200; 16th No. 1 for Series". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  18. ^ Santiago, Karinah (August 17, 2012). "Chart Juice: Elle Varner Debuts at No. 2 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  19. ^ "Music Albums, Top 200 Albums & Music Album Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  20. ^ "Elle Varner's "Perfectly Imperfect" Album a Favorite Around the White House". ABC News Radio. September 6, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  21. ^ Godfrey, Sarah (August 6, 2012). "Music review: 'Perfectly Imperfect,' by Elle Varner". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  22. ^ Lang, George (August 17, 2012). "Music Review: Elle Varner "Perfectly Imperfect" (RCA)". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City: Chris Reen. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  23. ^ Chinen, Nate (August 7, 2012). "Releases From Kurt Feldman, Elle Varner and Marcus Miller". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. C4. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 14, 2013). "The Dean's List 2012". The Barnes & Noble Review. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Elle Varner Album & Chart History". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "Elle Varner Album & Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Elle Varner Album & Chart History". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  30. ^ "エル・ヴァーナーのCDアルバムランキング、エル・ヴァーナーのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE" (in Japanese). Retrieved March 23, 2013. 

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