Ketchup and mustard are two of the least likely words to pop up in a songwriting session. But on the latest episode of the Jennifer Hudson Show, the host and her guest Babyface prove that no phrase is too outlandish to be made into a smooth R&B song. Using lyrical phrase suggestions from the audience — from “ketchup and mustard” to “stop, drop, and roll” — the duo composed piano-based musical vignettes on the spot.
“I saw her at Ralphs today/She was by herself/But there was something in her heart/That she could not help,” Babyface sang, working through the curveball phrase “cleanup on aisle 17” offered by an audience member who really wanted him to work for it. “There were tears in her eyes/I can see that she wanted to cry/There was water everywhere/From the tears that she cried/And someone said, cleanup on aisle seventeen.”
The in-the-moment writing session came easy to Babyface, and Hudson’s backing vocals followed along smoothly like they had rehearsed time and time beforehand.
Earlier in the show, Hudson asked Babyface about the notion that R&B is dead. “R&B, it’s in so many things that we listen to today,” he explained. “It just changes over time. But it’s not dead now, and it will never be dead.” The genre, as they demonstrated, is alive and well whether they’re in the studio or on stage painting the image of a woman crying at the grocery store or a person putting ketchup and mustard on their hotdog or hamburger at a cookout.