Usher Terry Raymond V was born in Dallas, Texas and began singing at the age of six in the local church choir at the request of his mother, Jonnetta Patton, who was the choir’s director. Patton, Usher and his younger brother, James, moved to Atlanta, Georgia when Usher was 12 years old and there Usher began appearing in local talent shows. It was at one of those shows in 1992 that Usher was spotted by Bryant Reid, brother of Antonio Reid, the prominent R&B producer and co-president of LaFace Records. Bryant arranged an audition for Usher in front of his brother and a star was born! Usher was only 14 years old when he worked on his first self-titled album, which was co-produced by Reid and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and garnered a minor hit. It wasn’t until his sophomore album My Way, did Usher get the recognition he deserved. Released around his 19th birthday, the album gave Usher his first single in “You Make Me Wanna” and he hasn’t stopped since. Since then he’s branched out into acting in both motion pictures and in 2006, he starred on Broadway as Billy Flynn in the hit play Chicago. In honor of his 35th birthday, here is a Top 10 list of Usher songs.
10. Climax: Off his 2012 album Looking 4 Myself, on this song Usher sings about reaching the pinnacle in a relationship with nowhere else to go. That’s the last thing anyone wants to hear but it happens and Usher gets right down to it with lyrics like, “Going nowhere fast. We’ve reached the climax/Were together now we’re undone/Won’t commit so we choose to run away/Do we separate?/Don’t wanna give in so we both gave up/Can’t take it back. It’s too late/We’ve reached the climax, climax.” Deciding whether to commit or throw in the towel concerning a relationship is tough and Usher conveyed that perfectly with this track.
9. My Boo featuring Alicia Keys: Off his 2004 album Confessions, Usher teamed up with R&B songstress Alicia Keys for a slammin’ duet. On this track, the dynamic duo sings about how a first love never leaves you and how it can hit you from out of nowhere with lines like, “There’s always that one person/That will always have your heart/You never see it coming/Cause you’re blinded from the start/Know that you’re that one for me/It’s clear for everyone to see/Ooh baby ooh you’ll always be my boo…Do you remember girl/I was the one who gave you your first kiss/Cause I remember girl/I was the one who said put your lips like this.” Who hasn’t thought about their first love even though they’re with somebody else now? It’s a universal theme that was the perfect topic for a hit song!
8. Nice & Slow: Off Usher’s 1997 sophomore album titled My Way this track was Usher’s first No. 1 single. It was filled with sexual innuendo and it’s a great song for a night with your honey. Every girl wants to hear their guy say they want to take their time and Usher conveyed that sentiment bluntly with lyrics like, “Let me take you to a place nice and quiet/There ain’t no one there to interrupt/Ain’t gotta rush/I just want to take it nice and slow/(now baby tell what you wanna do with me)/See I’ve been waiting for this for so long/We’ll be makin’ love until the sun comes up/Baby.” For a 19-year-old, some might have said he was too young to be singing such lyrics but with his smooth voice, his age didn’t matter
and the ladies loved it!
7. Confessions, Part 2: Another track off his fourth studio album, 2004’s Confessions, this track topped the Billboard Hot 100. Usher sang about confessing his indiscretions with his ex to his girlfriend and the fact that his ex was now pregnant with his child. Not something any girlfriend wants to hear. Usher’s suave voice imparted this heartbreaking message with lyrics like, “These are my confessions/Just when I thought I said all I could say/My chick on the side said she got one on the way/These are my confessions/Man I’m thrown and I dont know what to do/I guess I gotta give part 2 of my confessions… Now this gon’ be the hardest thing I think I ever had to do/Got me talkin’ to myself askin’ how I’m gon’ tell you/’bout that chick on part 1 I told ya’ll I was creepin’ with, creepin’ with/Said she’s 3 months pregnant and she’s keepin’ it/The first thing that came to mind was you/Second thing was how do I know if it’s mine and is it true/Third thing was me wishin’ that I never did what I did/How I ain’t ready for no kid and bye bye to our relationship.” This was an autobiographical song for Usher as he was singing about a situation he was going through at the time and he communicated his emotions about his predicament superbly on this song.
6. You Make Me Wanna: Another track of Usher’s sophomore 1997 album My Way, this track reached No. 1 in the UK. Here, Usher sings about wanting to leave his current girlfriend because he’s fallen for his best friend. Many a guy has found himself in this exact predicament, being in a relationship but unexpectedly falling for another girl he always thought of as just a friend. Usher’s sultry vocals and tender lyrics made females across the country wish he was leaving his girlfriend for them which such lines like, “You make me wanna leave the one I’m with/start a new relationship with you/this is what you do/think about her and the things that come along with…Before anything came between us, you were like my best friend/The one I used to run to when me and my girl was having problems (that’s right)/You used to say it would be okay/Suggest little nice things I should do/And when I come home at night and lay my head down all I seem to think about is you.” Usher’s superb dance moves in the video also helped to make ladies’ hearts melt!
5. Burn: Ending a relationship is never easy and Usher communicated that emotion with soulful accuracy on this track from his 2004 album Confessions. Loving someone enough to know it’s time to let them go was the theme of this track as Usher emoted his need to release his lady before hurting her further with lyrics like, “See it’s burning me to hold onto this/I know this is something I gotta do/But that don’t mean I want to/What I’m trying to say is that I-love-you I just/I feel like this is coming to an end/And its better for me to let it go now than hold on and hurt you/I gotta let it burn… It’s been a long time coming/But we done been fell apart/Really wanna work this out/But I don’t think/you’re gonna change ya/I do but you don’t/Think it’s best we go our separate ways/Tell me why I should stay in this relationship/When I’m hurting baby, I ain’t happy baby.” Staying in a relationship when both parties have grown apart and want different things isn’t good for either person and Usher articulated that in this heart wrenching ballad.
4. U Got It Bad: Off his 2001 album titled 8701, this track topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks. Usher broke up with TLC’s Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas around this time and the lyrics of this song have Usher reflecting on how “Chilli” takes up all of his thoughts and how much he regrets their breakup. Lots of men reflect on what they should have done differently in order to keep a woman they now realize meant more to them than they thought at the time. Usher talks about missing “Chilli” and not thinking about anything else with such lines as, “U got, u got it bad/When you’re on the phone/Hang up and you call right back/U got, u got it bad/If you miss a day without your friend/Your whole life’s off track/You know you got it bad when you’re stuck in the house/You don’t wanna have fun/It’s all you think about/U got it bad when you’re out with someone/But you keep on thinkin’ bout somebody else/U got it bad.” Hindsight is 20/20 they say and Usher voiced his deepest emotions at his romantic loss brilliantly with this track.
3. Yeah! featuring Ludacris & Lil’ Jon: This kickin’ dance track on Usher’s 2004 album Confessions had him teaming up with rap superstars Ludacris and Lil’ Jon. The song spent six weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and five weeks at the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Usher sings about not wanting to leave a club when a former friend of his girlfriend entices him. Usher croons about how the girl seduced him into dancing with her using such lyrics as, “She’s saying “Come get me! Come get me”/So I got up and followed her to the floor, she said “Baby, let’s go”/That’s when I told her I said/ Yeah (yeah) Shorty got down low and said come and get me /Yeah (yeah) I got so caught up I forgot she told me /Yeah (yeah) Her and my girl used to be the best of homies/Yeah (yeah) Next thing I knew she was all up on me screaming… She asked for one more dance and I’m/Like yeah, how the hell am I supposed to leave?” There’s nothing more treacherous that an ex-friend trying to steal your man and that is just what happens to Usher in this song as Ludacris and Lil’ Jon accompany Usher’s lyrics with their signature takes on the situation. On a personal note, I danced like crazy to this song at several sorority rush parties in college and it definitely got the party started, LOL!
2. DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love featuring Pitbull: Off his 2010 album titled Versus, the song debuted at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to heavy radio airplay and digital sales. This infectious dance song had Usher talking about falling in love in a club thanks to the music. There’s nothing like going into a club and hearing a song that makes you move and finding someone else who feels the same. Usher successfully got across this message with lyrics like, “’Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again/Yeah, baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again/So dance, dance, like it’s the last, last night of your life, life/Gonna get you right/’Cause baby tonight, the DJ got us falling in love again/ Keep downing drinks like there’s no tomorrow there’s just right now, now, now, now, now, now/Gonna set the roof on fire/Gonna burn this motherfu**er down, down, down, down, down, down/Hands up, when the music drops/We both put our hands up/Put your hands on my body/Swear I seen you before/I think I remember those eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes.” Feeling that indescribable vibe with someone on the dance floor isn’t something that can be easily articulated but Usher did it with a song that made everyone want to find their special someone.
1. My Way: The title track of his 1997 sophomore album had Usher singing about how a certain girl liked things “his way.” The video featured Usher and his dance crew in a dance-off with a rival dance crew as he fought one rival member for the affections of a female dancer. Usher taunted his rival with lyrics like, “She likes it my way, My way/You can’t satisfy her needs/She keeps runnin’ back to see me do it/ My Way, My Way… So from this day forth you know i’m all about the heat/and what u do is the major league/That’s why your girlfriend’s paging me/and she know like he know, you don’t see her like i see her/So she’s out the do’.” Usher ultimately gets the girl in the end and why shouldn’t he with the song’s irresistibly polished dance beat, it was a can’t miss!