Usher 101: Top 10 songs for your playlist
From his chart-topping hits to soulful ballads, each track offers a glimpse into Usher's versatility and impact on the music industry.
Usher at the 2024 Super Bowl (Source: X)
As we navigate through Usher's iconic discography, we witness the evolution of his sound and the enduring influence he has had on pop and R&B music. This playlist serves as a testament to Usher's remarkable talent and serves as a perfect addition to any music enthusiast's collection. Plus, after witnessing his electrifying halftime performance at the 2024 Super Bowl, there's no denying Usher's status as a true musical icon.
Think of You (Usher, 1994)
Usher's eponymous debut album stands as a testament to his early beginnings in the music industry. At just 15 years old, under the guidance of legendary hip-hop producer P. Diddy, Usher was still in the process of defining his musical identity. Tracks like Think of You hinted at the potential and talent that would later define his signature sound in the R&B genre.
You Make Me Wann (My Way, 1997)
Usher's ascent to prominence truly began when he joined forces with Jermaine Dupri, a renowned producer in the hip-hop and R&B scene, for his album My Way. The lead single, You Make Me Wanna…, not only showcased Usher's distinctive personality and style but also firmly established his position within the music industry.
U Got It Bad (8701, 2001)
The Atlanta-based entertainer infused the essence of soul legends like Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder into the 2000s era. U Got It Bad emerged as the quintessential anthem for individuals deeply enamored, where everything else pales in comparison to their affection for someone.
U Remind Me (8701, 2001)
U Remind Me is a must-listen as it epitomizes Usher's greatest skill: crafting irresistibly catchy tunes centered around amusing situations. Enhanced by its accompanying music video, the song offers supplementary storytelling that adds depth to the experience.
Confessions Part II (Confessions, 2004)
Confessions stands as the pinnacle of Usher's discography, showcasing the singer's mastery of storytelling. Part 1 of the titular tale begins with an in medias res narrative, while Part 2 serves as the true beginning, marking the zenith of his influence in the industry. This diamond-certified album boasts the two bestselling singles of 2004 and holds the titles of the bestselling R&B album and the bestselling album by a Black artist of the 21st century.
Burn (Confessions, 2004)
Crafting melodramatic speeches and preambles is a time-honored tradition in R&B, yet Usher takes it to a whole new level. In "Burn," he introduces theatrical hesitations before parting ways with the song's subject, ingeniously altering the rhythm of a line to synchronize with the music. This unexpected and satisfying move immediately captivates the listener, seizing their attention even before the song fully unfolds.
My Boo, with Alicia Keys (Confessions: Special Edition, 2004)
Usher's collaboration with fellow R&B legend Alicia Keys stands as one of his most popular. This song serves as a perfect time capsule of nostalgia and makes for an ideal karaoke duet, blending their iconic voices into a harmonious performance.
Love in This Club (Feat. Young Jeezy) (Here I Stand, 2008)
This single, featured on his 2008 album Here I Stand, serves as an indelible marker signifying the transition from the Y2K era to the stylings of the 2010s.
There Goes My Baby (Raymond v. Raymond, 2010)
Raymond v. Raymond arguably stands as Usher's most mature album, delving into themes surrounding his first divorce and navigating life as a single man in a new chapter. The standout single, the sultry ballad There Goes My Baby, showcases Usher's complete vocal prowess, cementing its place as a standout track on the album.
Climax (Looking 4 Myself, 2012)
In perfect alignment with the song's thematic core, the melody and instrumentation of "Climax" continuously ascend peaks and descend valleys, crafting one of Usher's most dynamically engaging tracks. Remarkably, Climax stands out as one of his more minimalist productions, a strategic choice that grants his vocals the freedom to soar to unprecedented heights, conveying his emotions with raw intensity.