10 Years Later: Confessions

Usher-Confessions

 

By: Connor Lenahan

That’s right, you’re old. Usher’s Confessions came out ten years ago today. I vividly remember getting my nerdy, third grade groove on to the album. I remember this because now I get my increasingly nerdy college freshman groove on to the same songs. Realistically, this album was a landmark moment for my life. This was my first exposure to R&B music which has over the past decade come to dominate much of my iTunes library. Confessions alone has dominated my life in one way or another since it’s release as well. To celebrate this beautiful compilation of funk’s tenth birthday, I picked out the choice cuts that have stood the test of time and written about how incredible they are.

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I’m fascinated with a minor feature of iTunes. There is an automated playlist created that outlines, in order, the 25 songs you have listened to the most over all connected devices and the computer itself. Thanks to technologic changes since the release of Confessions, and my lack of an iPod at the time of the album’s release, “Yeah!” isn’t represented properly on my current list. If there were a way to make an accurate count of how many times I have listened to a song in my life and rank them there is no way “Yeah!” falls anywhere below the top five.

This was my favorite song for over a year when I was a kid and remains one of my favorite songs today. Why? It’s perfect. The entire song is two notes and a basic drum beat. That’s it. Once you notice it, you’ll never not notice it again. In a weird way, this minimalism makes “Yeah!” beautiful. I say “weird way” because it feels odd to describe a song designed for night clubs and drunken mayhem “beautiful.” Yet it’s true. There is a joy to “Yeah!” that makes even the darkest days brighter. Usher’s voice carries this song. He’s simultaneously making a banger and making a testament to his talent as a vocalist. This combination is enticing as evidenced by my insistence on singing “getting’ low” while doing a dance move that looks shockingly similar to a grand mal seizure.

Also, goes without saying, Ludacris kills this song. Hopefully Luda finally found his perfect woman with regards to locale based behavior.

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I’m not entirely sure what reintroduced the song “Throwback” to my life sometime in 2013, but it was a blessing handed down by the big man himself. Unlike every other song on this album, my focus isn’t given to Usher. Yeah, he owns the song with his angelic singing voice, that’s to be expected. No, my attention is given to Jadakiss. Jadakiss is far and away my favorite rapper to imitate. His gravely, hoarse voice is the single coolest thing on the planet. I’d pay good money to watch him read children’s books. Like you wouldn’t do likewise, be real. For some reason, I love when people spell during songs. So when Jadakiss drops “the exact spot where we found l-o-v-e at,” I lose it. Everything is perfect. There is no sadness. That moment reassures my faith in humanity without fail. Jadakiss spelled, we did this, I love America.

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It took me years to fully grasp how incredible this song is. Musically, it’s fantastic. The ticking guitar, coupled with the skipping drums is almost hypnotic. Add in Usher hitting his falsetto a few times and you’ve got something that takes your ears to a wonderful place. This is, of course, odd given the content of the song. Usher is admitting to infidelity on a global stage. I wouldn’t even own up to eating a piece of pizza that my Dad was saving for himself if I was under oath, so props to Mr. Raymond. This is a far heavier song than I had remembered when I was a kid. It’s the musical brilliance, again going the minimalistic route, along with the heart-wrenching lyrics that make “Confessions Part II” into one of the most memorable songs in Usher’s lengthly career.

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“Confessions Part II” is the reveal of Usher’s cheating. “Burn” is the reaction to said cheating. “Burn” was and is an incredible breakup song. Usher brings all of the feels. I realize it’s repetitive, but his voice is incredible. Plus there are feels. Oh, did I mention the feels? Great now I’m crying. Thanks Usher.

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In an effort to minimize public embarrassment for myself, I don’t dance in public. I know there is nothing for me to gain by busting a move with strangers looking on. I normally hold back from my urges to get jiggly with it, but “Caught Up” conquers all with regards to making me into a care-free dancing fool. This song is so much fun. Two things I love in songs: horn sections and drums. Give me both and I will lose my mind. Therefore, “Caught Up” became one of my favorite songs ever. Even as I’m writing this I began to pop-and-lock and sing along. I need serious help.

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The beat to this song is perfect and I will fight any and all dissenters. I’m not sure if funky is the proper adjective to describe it, but dammit that’s what we’re going to go with. The funkiness that “Take Your Hand” has is unbelievable. It’s only 2:46, but it’s perfect. I don’t have the first clue as to what this song is about, nor do I care to know. I’d rather live in the world where I mindlessly sing this song in my car and bask in its funky warmth. Again, I need serious help.

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Okay, I’m going to cheat for a second. The beginning of the video above contains a chuck of the song “Bad Girl.” Now, I didn’t have enough of an opinion to write about the song as a whole, but I needed to throw in that the line “hypnotical Alizé” makes me burst out into joyous laughter on each listen. No reason for this other than it sounding awesome, but do I really need another reason?

Okay, now we tackle “My Boo.” Can someone explain to me why Alicia and Usher were never a thing? Were they? Did I completely miss out on this relationship? Can it still happen? Why is this song not still used as a relationship staple? Can this make a comeback? Let’s have it make a come back. This is adorable. I love everything about this song. It’s cute to the exponential power adorable. Raymond + Keyes 4 Eva.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be contacted at lenahan@bu.edu