‘They don’t make ’em like this anymore!’ Usher – Confessions Review. #ThrowbackThursday

A review and reflection on the classic album “Confessions” by the one and only Usher.

Hello everyone! Today we are going back to basics. I previously started a theme based on reviews from older albums. Today’s feature is the classic and legendary album from Usher titled ‘Confessions’. I will be referring to the original released version of the album. The album which was released in 2004 and was the fourth studio album by US singer Usher and is possibly one of his most celebrated pieces of work. Timeless music is when regardless of its release date, anytime you listen to it, feels like it’s the first time. This album ticks those boxes. For me this album is my favourite album of all time. It’s an album that I can recite lyrics from every song, an album with a story, an album with everything I love about music. Most importantly, this album provides nostalgic feelings for me that provide me with elements of joy.

As we are all aware I’m sure, the album takes the theme of a series of confessions as he explains to us in the intro. The album cover shows Usher in a Confessions booth and throughout the album we are given reasons why Usher is confessing. As I’ve previously stated, music is considered therapy for a lot of people and Usher used this album to reveal some of his darkest and painful secrets making this possibly one of his most personal albums. I remember reading somewhere that while the album is an R&B album, he wanted us to also experience a hip-hop vibe which could be argued to be in ‘Yeah!’.

Yeah!’ features Lil Jon and Ludacris (who has my favourite verse on the song). Ludacris’ line “We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed” is probably one of the most memorable lines in the song aside from the chorus. The three of them also have a great collaborative effort on East Side Boyz “Lovers and Friends” which is a favourite of mine.

The third song on the album is “Throwback“. It’s funny because I had the album for a long time before this song stuck with me. “You never miss a good thing ’til it leaves ya & finally, I realised that I need ya, I want you back”. These lines set precedent for the rest of the song. Usher sings about wanting his woman back after she leaves him for admitting his cheating. The whole song is dedicated to his anguish at the fact she has left him and he misses her. On reflection, he regrets all the bad things he did and said. I love the uses of instruments in this song, it would have been great to have heard this song live back in the day.

‘Confessions Interlude/ Part 1‘ and ‘Confessions Part II’ art possibly the most infamous songs on the album. The interlude is Usher preparing his woman and us, the listener for what is to come. Interludes on R&B albums were popular around this time and I like the added touch of them. After a while the interlude was turned into a full fledged song. Part II is Usher outright confessing about his infidelity and expressing his regret. Usher sings “Just when I thought I said all I could say, my chick on the side said she got one on the way” confirming that he has gotten the other woman pregnant.. The song is apparently not exactly true but is based on Usher’s friends similar experiences. The execution however is flawless and you really believe Usher is living this life. Throughout the song we can hear the stress in Usher’s voice as he sings “Man, I’m throwed and I don’t know what to do, I guess I gotta give part two of my confessions” implying that this is the conclusion to this first version and interlude. There’s a part in the song when Usher hits a high note; “I said one second, baby, please hear me“, at a part where he is trying his best to let his girlfriend hear him out. The high note feels like desperation from his part and Usher incorporates it into the story so well. This song told us a story with Usher being the narrator and main character. The song writing, production and vocal performance in this song will forever make it a classic.

Burn’ is another R&B hit from Usher. He sings the ballad with such passion. The video for this song is legendary and I can’t think of the song without seeing Usher with trees burning beside him. Verse 2 is my favourite part of the song. The song is based on the conflicting feelings of a breakup. He sings “Cause the feeling ain’t the same, find myself calling her your name“, One one side he is trying to move on but he keeps being reminded. The other feeling is feeling regretful as he sings ” What I gotta do now to get my shorty back? Oh oh oh oh”. The song is one of the best R&B vocal performances on the album and definitely a fan favourite.

‘Caught Up‘ is a more upbeat Usher song as he sings about catching feelings for a woman. The song is Usher singing his confusion as to how the woman “has a hold on him”. My favourite line is when he sings “Her body was so tight, I’m looking for her in the daytime with a flashlight“. What a funny analogy. While the song takes a more upbeat mood, the production does too, there are more uses of drums and brass instruments.

‘Superstar Interlude’ and ‘Superstar‘ are possibly my personal favourite songs on the album. He sings “I won’t stop until I see you sugar”, on the interlude to again prepare us for what is to come on the main song. On ‘Superstar‘ he sings about a woman who he idolises and puts on a pedastool. He has no shame expressing his love; “I’ll be your groupie baby
‘Cause you are my superstar, I’m your number one fan, give me your autograph, Sign it right here on my heart
“. The irony of this song is that Usher himself is the Superstar and is used to having fans and groupies who are usually in awe of him however he has found a woman he is in awe of. He uses the metaphors of being a fan he claims to “show you just how I adore you“. He hits the high notes in this song with ease I love how he flips the script throughout to show us his vulnerable side. “Girl you’re one of a kind cos they don’t make em like you anymore”….a beautiful ode.


‘Truth Hurts‘ is another underrated song on the album. The song can be considered karma based on the topic of the beginning of the album. In this song Usher sings about how the woman in the relationship has ruined the relationship due to her “infidelity; “Baby, everything we built on trust, you’re tearing it down“. The irony is that we find out that all of these “fears” are really a projection of how Usher really feels. He confesses he’s only been accusing his girl of cheating due to his guilty conscience. Usher sings “I’ve been blaming you when I’m the one that’s doing wrong” once again admitting he’s the one who’s been unfaithful.

‘Simple Things’ is another one of my personal favourites. I feel this is the song with the most important message from the whole album. It can relate to relationships, love, jobs, family and pretty much life in general. In the song Usher advises us that it’s really the simple things in life we always underestimate. Those are the things that are the most important. The song has incredible advice from the beginning; “Just copped your girl a brand new Rolex but you can never find the time to spend at home“. He proceeds to sing my favourite line; “But you don’t know you’re chasing a dime, losing a treasure” telling us to appreciate what we have already. He advises men to understand that splashing the cash on your woman is great but what is more important to her is you, not the materialistic things. “You hear her talking but don’t hear what she said“, sometimes we hear what we want to hear rather than what the person is trying to say. Usher ends the song by stating “Man, I tell you, cars, clothes, and fancy things don’t mean a damn thing” advising men to give them things money can’t buy, their time, love, appreciation and affection.

‘That’s What it’s Made For’, ‘Can U Handle It?’ and ‘Do it to Me’ are all songs that could be considered slow jams. These songs are classic Usher, stripped back, pure vocals. It can be argued that all songs have the same theme; sex. ‘That’s What it’s Made For’ is Usher singing about his manhood and the use of it, to pleasure women. The song explores how him and a woman are partaking in consensual sexual activity. ‘Can U Handle It?’ is Usher seducing and teasing a woman. ‘Do it to Me’ is another one of my favourites from the album. I don’t think it’s possible to hear this song without feeling the need to move. I like the production on this song. The big Base and what feels like a large bang(drums?) played throughout adds to the intensity. Usher hits the high notes effortlessly as usual and one of my favourite lines; “Squeezing, holding, biting, scratching, spanking, screaming, pulling my hair when you need me” with his high vocals is just 😍. Yeah this song is the one! Whew!‘Follow Me’ is Usher being real. In this song he sings about the fact he’s finally found a woman he can be himself with. “Sometimes I gotta smile (smile) when I don’t feel like smiling”, his lifestyle is tiring but he doesn’t need to pretend with the woman

What an album. I won’t lie, I don’t think since this release there has been an album that has provided me with so much joy and love. Hopefully real R&B can be born again because it will be a shame.

I am aware there are more songs after from the special edition version of the album. Songs like “My Boo” which I have reviewed before among a few more. Check out the special edition version below;

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3 Tracks you should be listening to:

I’ve been slacking with my usual throwback reviews or new music reviews. Content will be back to normal very soon. In the meantime, I have a few songs on repeat on my Spotify atm and think you guys should check them out.

1. Professor Green Ft Rag’n’Bone Man – Photographs

I am a fan of Pro Green & love his deeper songs. Similarly to “Never be a right time”, this is another personal and relatable song with a beautiful message. I read somewhere that he said the track is “all about wishing for the photos we can no longer take”. The song is also a tribute to his dad who sadly commuted suicide. The lyrics are so touching and Pro Green is ultimately saying that photographs help when thinking of those we have lost, as he states “Just a memory of you is not enough”. The collaboration from Rag’n’Bone Man is perfect as the song has a great balance. One of the most memorable lines for me is when Pro Green raps “We all thought that the moments would last but the moments don’t last, the moments pass & the only thing that lasts is the photograph”. Hopefully this song inspires people to take more photos of and with their loved ones!

2. Ariana Grande – thank u, next

This song has gained so much attention for obvious reasons. I am beginning to really enjoy Ariana Grande songs. It may be due to the fact I feel she is maturing alot more in her song content and even her voice. The vocal ability in this song is overlooked. The great thing about this song is that it had the potential to become a very bitter song with a bad message but she has turned it in such a positive way. The message being sometimes in life we go through highs and lows, we fall in love and get hurt. The main thing to remember is each lesson you learn from each experience. Song content aside, the music production and Ariana’s angelic voice are amazing in this track. Only bad thing is that it’s so catchy that you will be saying “next” after every “thank you” now! Haha!

3. Mr Eazi – Yard & Chill

Mr Eazi has just released a new mixtaoe entitled “Lagos to London”. The EP contains a collection of great songs but this is one of the ones I’ve been playing since the release. The song is produced by one of my favourite producers Jae5. It’s a feel good song with incredible music production that would make you think you are listening to a live rendition in your earphones. “Give me love baby, don’t be wicked”, you will be screaming this line in a Nigerian accent after hearing this song. The song reminds me of an African themed Orchestra or Highlife music. I recommend you play this song on the loudest volume to appreciate the sound at its best!

Throwback Thursday (US Style)

Today’s throwback entry is from the legendary Destiny’s Child called ‘Emotion’. The song released in 2001 explores song of the emotions associated with a breakup; betrayal, loss and loneliness to name a few. The first line of the song “Its over and done but the heart ache lives on inside”, reminds us that even though the relationship is over, the pain is just getting started. Anyone who has gone through a breakup or had their heart broken will relate to this song unfortunately. The idea that when you break up with someone you love, you can never find better 8/ expressed; “Don’t you know there’s no (no body left in this world to hold me tight)”. One of my favourite lines is “Cry me a river that leads to your ocean” The symbolism in that line is overlooked. The idea that she wants him to be as sad as she is as long as it means they can be together again one day.

Overall although the song is not written by the girls or originally sang by them, I love the emotion (No pun intended, haha) they exude from the song. It also reminds us that sometimes our emotions are out of our control. The song is a beautifully presented song about the negative symptoms of the drug we call love.

https://open.spotify.com/track/0v1FiNbsrogBpgITmV9qTG?si=BcJgyqM3Sc2Lsx352H9u6w

Queen Naija

Queen became popular as part of a couple with her now ex partner Chris Sails on YouTube. After the end of the relationship she began to publicly work more on her music and we were gifted with her song ‘Medicine’. Queen is definitely talented and her voice can be argued to be a sound we are missing at the moment. She released her first EP titled “Queen Naija” and the EP is filled with 5 beautiful R&B songs. The songs featured are based on her life and what she has experienced; being heartbreak, love and also being a mother.

For me R&B is definitely a genre that can be argued to be dying down unfortunately. This EP is simply classic R&B and reignites the feel for the genre. The songs are very personal and you can feel the emotion in every single song. A sign of a good song is when the listener can either relate or get a good sense of what the singer is feeling or has felt. I believe this EP does everything…raw emotion, great melodies and all the while keeping us entertained.

I really hope she is here to stay because her voice is definitely a beauty to hear.

SlowJam Sunday

Hurts the Most‘ is a song by US singer Monica from her 2003 album “After the Storm”. The album also features her famous hit “So Gone”.

‘Hurts the Most’ is an emotional song based on how someone may feel when they bump into someone they once loved. All the love and emotion they may have felt for them may come back. Monica sings in the first verse; “Boy, it’s been a long time since the last time I saw you. Feels like nothin’ changed since we’ve been together”… even after all this time, the love is still there.

The song also explores the feelings when that love has moved on; “& recently you found someone that you
decided to dedicate your whole life to…& baby, what hurts the most is letting go”.
The rawness one may feel when you realise that the other person has closed the door completely on you even though you still saw hope. The most wonderful thing about this song is the emotion you feel from Monica. The song feels extremely personal and is a situation that is very relatable to a lot of people.

The song is filled with regret, love, loss and the most important…acceptance.

I love songs that have the potential to make you cry or laugh or reminisce over something that may have happened in your life. This song is a prime example of that.

Throwback Thursday (US Style)

Today’s throwback track is by the one and only Lauryn Hill. Her 1998 single “Ex Factor ” was released from her critically acclaimed album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”.

Cardi B sampled this song on her 2018 song “Be Careful” and most recently Drake sampled this song on his 2018 hit “Nice for What” & reaffirmed people’s love for the original. The song is mostly Lauryn pouring out her love and pain to this ex which is why it is considered a song that people associate with breakups. The first line of the song “It could all be so simple but you’d rather make it hard” could be argued to relate to the end of a relationship. Sometimes there will always be that person that is willing to hold on while the other is not cooperating. There a few songs that the first line when played captures people’s ears and is enough to make them sing in unison, this is one of the songs.

A line that sticks out to me and highlights the desperation one may feel towards the breakdown of a relationship; “Tell me, who I have to be to get some reciprocity”… When you love someone so much you want to do anything you can to make it work. In addition you want them to be on the same page and to feel the exact same way you do about them. The common theme in this song is the fact Lauryn’s love is not mirrored in this partner.

One of the most famous lines and a line that Drake himself sampled in his song is “I keep letting you back in, how can I explain myself “. Some point in everyone’s life there is that one person we may keep running back to. No matter how hard you try to move on, it may be too hard to let them go. The success of this song definitely has something to do with the relatability we all may feel to the situation.

The final verses and the outro are a repetition of lines such as; “Care for me, care for me, I know you care for me…There for me, there for me! Said you’d be there for me“. The repetition reminds me of questions you may ask yourself when thinking back to the relationship and the reminder of the empty promises.

Overall this song can be considered a classic. What makes a song a classic in my opinion is a song that can relate to you everytime you hear it.

Closure

I was recently at an event where they played some R&B songs that stuck with me. Due to this, I discovered an artist called Sy Ari Da Kid. I checked out some of his songs and one in particular stands out as a favourite. The song called “Closure” features Tink and unsurprisingly the song is exactly about closure in a relationship. One thing I love in particular is when Tink sings “I love you, but I don’t wanna cuff you” which I find refreshing to hear from a woman’s perspective. With artists like Bryson Tiller recently, we usually hear this from a man’s point of view.

I like that she seems to have some sort of control in this song. She sings that she’s used to his games which is why she knows she cannot be in a relationship however he still has a hold on her. This song ends as confused as they were in the beginning and I think it’s such a great representation of life. Nothing is ever in black and white and sometimes we experience that.

I will definitely be listening to more of his music.