Usher was born Usher Raymond IV on October 14, 1978. He is a triple-threat artist because he’s a singer, dancer, and actor. He began his career singing on talent shows before he was a teenager. A music executive from LaFace Records discovered him during one of his talent shows. He released his first CD titled Usher in 1994, but the album didn’t make him an overnight success. He did manage to score three minor hit songs from the project. Usher could have thrown in the towel, but he decided not to give up. His second CD would be a much bigger success for him. My Way was released in 1997 and achieved the success he didn’t get from his debut album. He scored three top-five hits from the CD. “Nice And Slow,” debuted at number one, and “You Make Me Wanna…,” and “My Way,” debuted at number two on the charts. Usher released his third album 8701 in 2001. He had three singles debut in the top three on the charts. The singer scored two Grammys on this CD.
Confessions is Usher’s fourth CD and is the one that made him become a superstar in the music business. The project was released in 2004 and became one of his best-selling CDs. It was one of the best-selling CDs for the year it was released. The CD has five singles including four number one songs. Unfortunately, he was dealing with personal issues with his mother who was his manager at the time. He made the tough decision to fire her as his manager in 2007. After the success of Confessions, he released his fifth CD titled Here I Stand in 2008. The CD debuted at number one on the charts. The CD featured the number one song, “Love in This Club.” Raymond was dealing with more personal issues because he was going through a divorce.
Usher went back to the studio and produced the project, Raymond .v Raymond in 2010. This album produced the number one hit single, “OMG.” He didn’t let any grass grow under his feet. He went back to the studio to record Looking 4 Myself. His seventh CD came out in 2012. The album had the top 10 single, “Scream.” Usher’s eighth CD is titled Hard II Love. The CD came out in 2016. The project debuted in the top five of the charts.
In addition to singing, Usher tried his hand at acting. The singer’s first acting role was on the TV show Moesha. He had a recurring role in the hit series. He had two small roles in The Faculty (1998) and She’s All That (1999). He also had a role in the daytime drama The Bold And The Beautiful in 1999. His first starring role was in the movie Light It Up (1999). He had another lead role in the movie In The Mix in 2005. Raymond produced the soundtrack for the movie. Usher also tried his hand at acting on Broadway. He had a role in the musical Chicago. Usher became a businessman and discovered talent. His record label is Raymond-Braun Media Group. One of the acts his partner discovered was singer Justin Bieber. He was signed to his record label.
Usher has had a lot of hit songs throughout his career. He proved why he has so much staying power in the music business. He was so successful that a lot of male r&b artists were compared to him. They weren’t all able to hold a candle to Usher, but they did try. This list is a top 10 of Usher’s songs. There are so many to choose from so this top 10 list was a challenge.
# 10 – Don’t Waste My Time ft. Ella Mai
“Don’t Waste My Time,” is a single, which is slated to be on his ninth CD Confessions Pt.2. The infectious beat will have you moving around. The music is reminiscent of Hi Five’s, “I Like The Way (The Kissing Game),” LaDae’s, “Party Tonight”, The Jackson’s “Show You Where To Go,” and Janet Jackson’s “What’s Your Name.” Jermaine Dupri dated Janet Jackson so that might explain why her song was used as inspiration for this track. The samples worked for this track and blended perfectly.
The drumbeat stands out the most on the track. Usher utilizes his tenor vocals throughout the song. He starts off in a low key and builds up to a higher octave. He does little runs when he ad libs which was a nice change. Usher holds a little note before the bridge of the song. He sounds very similar to the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson. Jackson is clearly an inspiration of Usher’s and it shows with this track. His falsetto in the hook towards the end channels Michael Jackson. Ella Mai is a good singing partner for Usher. Her low soprano tone was a good match for his voice. She sounds very similar to Rihanna in the song. They both have room to shine, but Usher definitely came out on top. He holds a couple of notes before the song fades out.
# 9 – You Make Me Wanna
This song is featured on My Way. This is the lead single from the CD. It’s an r&b, soul, and pop song. This was a perfect choice for the first single because it has amazing crossover appeal. It’s also very radio friendly. The song utilizes the acoustic guitar and the drumbeat. The song is about Usher wanting to break up with the person he’s with and hook up with his friend. It was a different type of love song because people don’t usually sing songs about wanting to leave someone to get together with a friend.
He sings the song in his lower register in the beginning of the song. He changes things up and raises the octave for the hook and the bridge. He pleads for sympathy vocally as he expects to be with someone else. His vocals are amazing on the song. He manages to blend in with the acoustic guitar while he’s singing.
# 8 – My Way
This is the title track of the My Way CD. This track is one of the tracks that help fans take notice of the singer. It was the third single from the album. The track has an r&b and hip hop sound to it. He’s singing about a woman preferring how he controls a relationship. The song has a mid-tempo beat to it. His vocals blend with the music. He utilizes two keys for the track. He sings the verses in his normal key and the hook in a deeper key. He uses a double in the hook and utilizes both pitches in it and it’s a perfect flow.
He sings the verses as if he’s combining singing and rapping, which was different in a good way. He’s a little hard to understand, but it doesn’t hurt the song. Jermaine Dupri wrote the song with Usher. He does pop in and out of the song a lot, which takes a little bit away from the song. His appearance wasn’t needed because the song should have focused more on Usher, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a good song.
# 7 – U Remind Me
The song is featured on 8701. It’s the lead single from the CD. It was a perfect way to introduce the album to his fans. The song is an r&b and pop track. It has an infectious drumbeat. The song is about Usher having trouble moving on with someone because she reminds him of an ex-girlfriend. He sings the song in his natural key and it works with the melodic music. He showcases his versatility in the hook by switching keys. He goes from lower to higher throughout the hook. He pours his heart out in the lyrics. He sounds similar to the King of Pop in the song. His harmonies are on point in the hook. The song is excellent and it’s easy to see why it won a Grammy award.
# 6 – U Got It Bad
“U Got It Bad,” is on the 8701 album. It’s the second single from the album. It’s an r&b ballad. The song features an acoustic guitar and a funky drumbeat. It’s about how you feel when you fall in love with someone for the first time. He tells a story about how you react when you fall in love with someone. He uses two vocal ranges within the song. He goes from a low note to a high note. He does vocal runs within the melodies and then belts in the hook. The song wasn’t meant to be a power ballad, but he managed to showcase his ability to belt in the song. Usher wrote the song with Jermaine Dupri and Brian Michael Cox. They created a masterpiece together. The song is reminiscent of Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown’s music. This song proves why he was reaching for the King of R&B status.
# 5 – Confessions Pt. 2
This is the title track from the Confessions album. This is the third single. This is an r&b ballad with hip hop elements to it. This song is about Usher confessing (no pun intended) to cheating on his girlfriend and getting the woman pregnant. It’s not everyday a person would sing about confessing to an affair. It’s like a vocal diary. He was dating singer Chilli (from the group TLC) at the time. Usher denied the allegations the song was about him cheating on her. He insists the song isn’t about her, but you never know.
The music is low allowing Usher to sing his truth without the music taking away from the message of the song. He sings the verses in his normal register. He chooses to sing the hook in two octaves. He goes up and down vocally throughout the hook. He speeds up some of the lyrics in the verses and it was a nice touch. It’s a little hard to understand some of the things he’s saying, but the message is clear. This seems to be one of his most passionate songs so it’s possible it’s dedicated to someone in his life.
# 4 – My Boo ft. Alicia Keys
The song is from the Confessions album. It’s the fourth single from the CD. Usher and Alicia Keys are playing the parts of a couple who grew up together and fell in love. It’s quite a contrast from, “Confessions”. The song is a hip hop and r&b track with a midtempo beat to it. The duo go back and forth telling the story of how their characters fell in love. They match each other verse for verse and sound like they were a couple. He sings in his tenor vocal and she sings in a soprano vocal. This song brought out the best in Alicia Keys’ voice. She sings it softly, which is suitable for her tone. Usher sounds smooth and soothing throughout the song. He didn’t belt the way he did on other tracks, but it wasn’t needed for this song.
# 3 – Yeah ft. Ludacris and Lil Jon
This is the lead single from the Confessions CD. It’s an up-temp crunk and r&b song. This is the first time Usher collaborated with Ludacris and Lil Jon. They would go on to perform another single together. This song had excellent crossover appeal for fans of crunk, hip hop, r&b, and pop music. It’s one of Raymond’s first crunk tracks. He usually focuses on r&b music so this was different for him. There’s something here for everyone. It’s perfect for the club or dancing at home.
The song is basically about a woman in a club seducing Usher. He sings about being in different relationships, but this is the first time he talks about being seduced in a club. He sings the song in his lower to upper registers. He does mini raps throughout the verses. He manages to belt a little in the hook. He does become a guest vocalist in his song while Ludacris and Lil Jon take over it, but it doesn’t hurt the track.
# 2 – Bedtime
This song is from the My Way CD. This is an r&b love song. The ballad is about Usher making love to his girlfriend. His executive producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds wrote the beautiful song. Edmonds knew how to utilize Usher’s strengths vocally. He brought out the best of him as an artist. Usher pours his heart out in the romantic lyrics. He challenges himself by switching up the key within the track. He holds notes towards the fade out of the song. The notes aren’t long, but they were controlled and effective. Usher and Babyface’s voices blend so well together in the background of the song. They harmonize perfectly together. The song is flawless and perfect for r&b radio.
# 1 – There Goes My Baby
This track is from Raymond .v Raymond. It’s the fifth single from the CD. It was number one on the r&b charts and it’s easy to see why that happened. Usher won a Grammy for this song. The track is an r&b love song. He doesn’t sing too many songs about love so that makes the song stand out even more. He mostly sings about betraying his love so this was a nice touch for him to sing about enjoying watching his girlfriend. The r&b ballad utilizes his amazing falsetto tone.
He has excellent control over his falsetto range. He doesn’t over-sing any of the lyrics, which is good because the music is too soft for too much belting. He sings everything in time with the beat and does an excellent job keeping up with the music. His harmonies are on point in the hook. This song is one of the reasons why he has so many imitators in the business. There aren’t enough words to describe how flawless this song is.
Updated June 4, 2023
Top 10 Usher Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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