Ne-Yo knows that dance and electronic music dominate the charts and radio, and he believes some of the lyrics are weak.
"There's dance songs out there with four words in the whole song, and it don't ever matter," he said. "Because it's not about what the words are, it's about the music, the ups and downs in the music ... and then it explodes -- that's what that genre of music is about."
But when he approached that sound on his fifth album, "R.E.D.," the 33-year-old Grammy winner said he took the time to craft lyrics that have meaning. He said the best example is "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)," his current single and Top 10 Billboard pop hit.
"I told myself if I'm going to do this dance music or electronic or techno or whatever it is, I need to do it from a standpoint of making mine stand out from everybody else's, meaning a Ne-Yo dance record is going to have some kind of depth in the lyrics because the lyrics is who I am," he said.
"R.E.D." -- out this week -- features more dance-sounding tracks as well as R&B ones. The singer-songwriter, who has multiple hits of his own and has also written smashes for others like Rihanna and Beyonce, talks about the new album, songwriting, collaborating with country star Tim McGraw and being a father in an interview with the Associated Press.
Q: "Let Me Love You" was co-written by Sia and you usually don't write with other people. How did that song come about?
A: I know for a fact that there are incredible songwriters out there, but I just always feel like everything I do comes from a really personal place, and for another songwriter to come in and write a song for me that's going to be as personal as me writing a song for me -- I didn't feel like that was possible. But even with that being said, I'm never going to turn down a hit. If somebody's coming at me with a hit, I'm not that dude.
Q: What are your favorite albums of the year?
A: 2 Chainz ... Elle Varner ... I've been singing Lana Del Rey's praises recently. ... Got to throw Frank [Ocean] in there. ... Superbrave cat to do what he did. (Earlier this year, Ocean revealed that his first love was a man.) When I heard about it, I honestly didn't think it was as big of a deal as everybody made [it]. ... If you listen to his music, Frank is the kind of cat that's going to do what he wants to do. ... The dude references "Dragon Ball Z" in a R&B song ... so for him to come out and say what he said ... I'm like, "OK, that just makes perfect sense with who he is."