As you read this blog, it doesn’t take long to realize that modern R&B is not my favorite genre, and today’s album “Confessions” by Usher is no exception. That being said, there are a few good takeaways for me, and of course one of the most iconic songs in the history of club and dance music, “Yeah!”. Knowing that most of this album doesn’t do too much for me, I will focus on my favorite tracks as well as some stories on “Yeah!” and Usher himself. “Confessions” is rated #432 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time, and was the #1 selling album of 2004.
This huge record, featuring Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on the production team, covers all the bases in pace and style. After the album opens with “Yeah!”, I really liked the next track “Throwback”, featuring Jadakiss. It has a great melody and the opening reminds me of a good Jay-Z tune, which I know is somewhat of an oxymoron for me in the first place. There is a two-part set next, “Confessions” and “Confessions Part II”. The second track was released as a single, and even though it is on the slower side, I do like it a lot. It does sounds like Usher had some work to do on his personal life, but clearly his lifestyle as one of the world’s most famous singers is not one that I can remotely relate to in any way. “Caught Up” is an up-tempo dance tune that is near the top of my list as well here.
Back to “Yeah!”, it is an incredible song and one of the all-time dance floor classics. Many like me will recall that “Yeah!”, which features Lil John and Ludacris, serves as the backdrop in the movie “The Hangover” as Phil, Stu, Alan and the groom-to-be Doug begin their infamous night. Another memory of this tune is a personal moment of amusement for me and my son. In high school, he was a part of a very successful performance troupe for the Orlando Repertory Theater, known as the Power Chords. They even opened once for another rapper, Chingy (“Right Thurr”), but that is a story for another time. Anyway, at one point, they added “Yeah!” to their set list, and as good as they were, this urban classic may have been just a step or two far for these talented kids. Enjoyable memories nonetheless…
One other great Usher memory comes from a June night in 2019, when my son and I fulfilled one of his life dreams by seeing Stevie Wonder in concert at Red Rocks. Somewhere in the middle of the set, out came Usher, and he took the vocal lead on “Ribbon in the Sky”. It was amazing to see those two legends from different eras come together on that historic stage. After that, it really got interesting. Usher was clearly there to do one song only, but Stevie was not having any of it. Stevie started “Overjoyed”, and tried to feed a clearly confused Usher the lyrics. It was a bit of a hot mess, but hilarious to watch. Still not ready to let Usher off the hook, Stevie then kicked into “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. Usher tried and failed to keep up vocally, and then just gave up and jumped on Stevie’s piano and did some serious dancing, including some moonwalk action. A memorable night for many reasons, not the least of which was this one of kind collaboration.