*If you were not one of the 1.2 million people who tuned in on August 31st to watch the newest installment in the Verzuz battles, Brandy verzuz Monica, you missed a good one.
The two mega singers squared off in person in Atlanta; the first time they have been in the same room in eight years.
Monica began the evening by paying homage to the late Chadwick Boseman, saying, “the level of devastation this year is unprecedented” and added Chadwick Boseman, “was a man that was dedicated to the arts.”
Monica decided to let Brandy go first, but before Brandy got started, Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris appeared on the screen, acknowledged looking forward to the evening and urged people to vote.
Brandy hit the ground running with, “What About All of the?” Monica followed it up with, “Everything to Me.” They went back and forth and toe to toe, like two heavyweight contenders. The audience was treated to, “Almost Doesn’t Count,” “Have You Ever,” “Best Friend,” “Like This and Like That,” “Sitting Up in My Room,” and “Angel of Mine,” just to name a few.
Speaking of the audience, there was a veritable who’s who listening in. Not only did we have the Verzuz founders Timbaland and Swizz Beatz in attendance, but a few other heavy hitters as well. Let’s see, there was Tiffany Haddish, Jill Scott, Fat Joe, Da Brat, Kerry Washington, Stephen Curry, Erykah Badu, Tyrese, Babyface, Ludacris, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Tisha Campbell Martin, Neyo, Trey Songz, Vanessa Bryant and Michelle Obama, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
With the climate we are in, this Verzuz battle was needed and a welcome distraction. It lifted people’s spirit. For over two hours, we were able to lose ourselves and only think about the places the songs took us to. Many of the listeners commented that this was the best Verzuz battle ever and asked for a concert tour.
If there was ever anything negative going on between Brandy and Monica, they appeared to have cleared the air. They talked to each other a lot in the background (off mic), while the songs were playing. In between songs, they were very uplifting and complimentary, with Monica applauding Brandy on all that she has accomplished and endured and Brandy acknowledging Monica’s longevity, since Monica made her first album at 12 years old. Brandy’s longevity is nothing to sneeze at; she made her first album at 14 years old.
Brandy, who has her own record label and a new album, “B7,” said she could not make records for a while, but Monica “held it down.” They both mentioned how important their families and longtime managers are to them. Brandy dedicated a poem and the song “Best Friend” to her brother, Ray J, who came out and hugged her. Monica, who is unabashed and very down to earth, commented once people know her business, she has already moved passed it and is over it.
The evening ended with their hit duet, “The Boy is Mine,” which Brandy shared was supposed to be her first single, but she couldn’t release it because according to her, “The Boy is Mine was missing something” and continued to tell Monica, “What you brought to the song, took it to a different place.” Although an enjoyable evening was had by all, noticeably missing from the playlist was Monica’s, “For You I Will” and “Love All Over Me.” But we’ll forgive her, because the 2.5 hours they gave was plenty. Right before they left the room, they said to be on the lookout for a concert. We can only hope. And the winner was….the fans!
Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].