Ne-Yo is probably one of the best R&B song writers to come around since Babyface. The man is a genius. His biggest talent is his ability to retain a signature sound from song to song, while still catering toward the individual artist's talent, so that songs like Irreplaceable are as big a hit for him as they are for artists like Beyonce. That's a hustle that'll keep him paid long after people realize that his own albums aren't nearly as interesting (which again make him comparable to Babyface).
That being said, I hate that he feels the need to cover his own songs, even going as far as to release an answer to both Irreplaceable and Take A Bow. To me that's the apex of arrogance, and really just boring. I don't wanna hear "to the right, to the right." What does that even mean? Are you moving your shit back in the house, or just scooting it to a different corner?
Janet Jackson's Can't B Good from this year's Discipline was written and produced by Ne-Yo. It's the best ballad Janet has recorded in years. It's perfectly suited for her barely-there vocals, and perhaps purposely reminiscent of her brother's Human Nature. There's a resistant optimism in Janet's voice that matches the song's subject matter perfectly, and the pace of the production is right on point.
In the biggest non-surprise of the year, Ne-Yo leaked his version of the same song, and it just doesn't work at all. Ne-Yo's voice is not suited for this song, and maybe that's just because I heard Janet sing it first. That's not to say that Ne-Yo can't sing, in fact it's probably more to say that Janet can't (at least she doesn't really try to anymore). Where Janet seems vulnerable or hesitant, Ne-Yo is straightforward and even a bit uncomfortable. You need an airy vocal to suit Can't B Good, and Janet has that department on lock.
But, as is clear by now, I'm a Janet groupie ( a respectable groupie, as I recognize that she doesn't always get everything quite right) so maybe it's just me.
Here are both versions for you to decide.