From the Vault | Usher: Confessions

Machismo Disguised as Vulnerability

[Originally posted on Amazon.com, June 8, 2005]

Okay, at first I jumped on the bandwagon and sung the praises of Usher, how he is a great singer and entertainer in the vein of Michael Jackson, but it is not likely the Usher will reach the status of pop icon Jackson unless he starts engaging in unseemly and bizarre behavior. I’ll give it to Usher though-anyone who can sing (not lip-sync) and dance simultaneously has my vote. But let’s be real, Usher has a mediocre voice. He has a nice body but a funny-shaped head. He’s more persona and studio creation than anything else. This is like his fifth album, and he only penned one song, “Superstar,” which happens to be one of my favorites.

I have a problem with the concept he took with this album. Highlighting the caddish behavior he exhibited while dating Chili from TLC, and expecting us to feel sorry for him because she dumped his behind is just plain egotistical (see “Confessions” parts 1 and 2). I guess the listeners of this CD, specifically women, are supposed to think, “Oh, poor baby. He feels really bad for what he did.” Really this album is machismo disguised as vulnerability because he subversively boasts about of his sexual exploits yet entreats us to feel sorry for him when his behavior backfires on him.

Not to mention many of his songs have a nice hefty dose of misogyny thrown in for measure as exemplified in Ludacris’s contribution to “Yeah!” and “Bad Girl” where he sings about getting busy with some girl in a restroom. How’s that for romance?

“Throwback” is one of my favorites. It’s the kind of song every girl wishes her ex-boyfriend would sing to her as he grovels on his knees begging forgiveness for doing her wrong.

But if you ask me, Confessions actually loses steam by song #9 “Superstar”. Then it’s downhill into bland sex ballads that demonstrate Usher’s vocal mediocrity and unvarying subject matter. I’m not saying he’s a bad singer. He’s just not great. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting a lot for your money with this CD. It’s a shame that out of 21 tracks, 12 are merely filler.

Best picks: “Throwback,” “Superstar,” “Take Your Hand,” and “My Boo.”

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