Melanie Fiona has arrived at the tough part of her sophomore album, "The MF Life" -- choosing which songs are going to be on it.
"I would say we're narrowing down from 20 songs right now, and I'm looking to have 10 to 12 on the album," the Canadian-born Roc Nation singer tells Billboard.com about the follow-up to 2009's "The Bridge." "It's a tough thing because I'm in love with all of the songs, and every song has its own life and its own leg to stand on. I think it's just about making the correct body of work so when people listen from track one to track 11 they feel satisfied and there's a through-line story and the music flows."
However, Fiona adds, "The beautiful thing about good music is that it never expires so the song that may not make this album may have a life in movies and television and possibly album three. It's tough, but it's a good problem to have."
Fiona has been working on "The MF Life," which is due out this summer, with "The Bridge" collaborators Andrew Martin and Jay Fenix while also adding "dream producers such as John Legend, Jack Splash, Jerry Wonder and Salaam Remi. She's been previewing songs such as "Change the Record" and "Rock Paper Scissors" during her current stint on BET's Music Matters II Tour, while "Gone and Never Coming Back" has also been released as a single.
"People want to know why I'm going with a ballad first [single] this time around," Fiona notes. "I earned my first Grammy nomination for 'It Kills Me,' and I took that as a great gauge for an identity of my career, and that was being respected and recognized as a singer, a really good singer, a powerful singer. And with 'It Kills Me,' I recognized what that did for people, so coming back this time I knew I wanted to go just as hard vocally, just as big -- bigger emotionally -- and continue to tell those stories that people connect to. And that's what 'Gone and Never Coming Back' is."
After the success of "The Bridge" and its several singles, Fiona says there is some concern about "the sophomore jinx" -- not so much internally, however, as from the outside.
"People are always like, 'Well, what is she doing to do next?' and it's tough when you hear people saying, 'Well, she's probably just a one-hit wonder,' " Fiona acknowledges. "The longer you take to come back, the more you hear that, and you want to stand up with a megaphone and say, 'I'm not dead! I'm coming back!' But I feel a lot stronger. I've been doing some great writing, and I do feel my fans are loyal and genuine and they're definitely in it for the music. I feel like as long as I stick to the motto of making good music, I'm sure I'll have some faithful followers."
Fiona wraps up her current tour in mid-April, and she's already looking ahead to taking "The MF Life" on the road after it's release. "There's a couple people that are going out this year that I would love to tour with," she notes, citing Cee Lo Green and Mary J. Blige. "But nothing is planned as of now. And maybe I'll have a huge single and a huge album myself and I'll be headlining my own tour. The year is still early, and I'm open for whatever opportunities come my way. I just want to get out there and share my music with people."