As reported by Rolling Stone, Usher knocked B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ On You” off the top of the Hot 100 Chart this week, snagging his ninth number one with “OMG,” featuring Will.I.Am. His last number one was “Love In This Club,” from back in 2008.
Quick question: are you guys buying/supporting this guy’s songs out of sympathy or something? I mean, I hate being an asshole about these things, but I don’t get how either of the songs listed above could have reached number one in any way other than largely off of the strength of them being Usher songs. All things considered, Usher ain’t been the same since Confessions.
You know that; I know that.
And his strategy for reclaiming that mainstream R&B throne (you know, the one Chris Brown was a shoe-in for until he beat up his famous girlfriend) has been incredibly transparent and uninspired; release as many singles as you can afford to make videos for…and then see what sticks. The album was just released on March 30, 2010, and the guy has already released six singles (including both official and promotional singles). The best one (i.e. the only good one): “Lil’ Freak,” a relatively sexy, sketchy number that only really kicks into high gear when Nicki Minaj chimes in for a show-stealing guest verse.
Am I wrong here, people? Please, tell me if I’m wrong, but I really feel like Usher absolutely sucks. His music is incredibly boring and derivative, and furthermore, I find myself picking up on a slight hint of desperation when I hear an Usher song or stumble on one of his videos. Usher wants to dominate pop music the way he did back 2004, when the unforgettable “Yeah” tore up America’s airwaves (and my high school dances). Now I don’t necessarily expect Usher to hit us with something as perfect and relevant as “Yeah”; even the most successful and consistent artists usually only have one song like “Yeah” in their body of work. “Yeah” was the perfect song at the perfect time. It’s the quintessential smash/mega/worldwide hit song; it’s his “Baby One More Time,” his “Waterfalls, his “Umbrella.” Those are heights our friend Usher will most likely never reach again. That’s not a problem; it’s just the way these things work. The probably is that Usher is consumed with recapturing that kind of worldwide, pop-cultural ubiquity, while neglecting true artistry in the process.
Raymond v. Raymond, Usher’s latest album, feels like a cruel joke to me. The title is brilliant, clearly nodding towards his messy, real life divorce in June of last year. If Usher had wanted to be daring and fearless, this could have been his Here, My Dear, a scathing, honest account of the emotional turbulence of a failed marriage. Instead, we get a few clear nods his real-life drama, and then songs like “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home),” and “So Many Girls,” vaguely fun yet undoubtedly safe numbers. People loved “Yeah,” but what actually drew 10 million (!) record buyers to Confessions were…well…the confessions. Usher hinted at a return to this kind of emotional bloodletting with Raymond v. Raymond, but in actuality it was no more than a cheap, paper-thin marketing ploy.
Whatever. Dude’s album is a success; more power to him. But Usher has the talent and potential to really do something substantial in the world of pop music, and instead he’s decided to rest on his laurels. He’s wasting it.
You know it; I know it.