To honor Usher’s new album dropping this week and his much-hyped appearance on American Idol as performer and mentor, I decided to sift through his extensive discography and rank his best tracks. I could’ve easily upped this post to his Top 15 or even 20, but I really wanted to narrow it down to a perfect 10.
I love ME SOME Usher and picking just ten from his numerous hit singles was painfully hard, especially when cutting a few of his popular tracks from this list. I invite you to take a trip down memory lane with me and check out Usher’s greatest hits. I’d love to hear if you agree/disagree with me after checking out the rankings.
10. NICE AND SLOW from MY WAY, 1998
This slow jam has the distinction of being Usher’s first number on the Billboard Top 100 and made my list for three reasons. 3) It’s set in Paris, France and as of press time, I’m in the land of berets. 2) The kidnapping storyline complete with explosions is totally random an cheesy. 1) Drumroll please… Usher speaks French in this video. It’s so bad that it’s so good. The video is also notable for the fact it stars, Kimora Lee Simmons before she became the head of Baby Phat and fat in general. Wow… totally bitchy. The French must be totally rubbing off me during my vacay.
9. CALL ME A MACK from POETIC JUSTICE SOUNDTRACK, 1993
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the single that introduced Usher’s debut. “Call Me a Mack” wasn’t a hit by any means and only landed at #56 on the Billboard R&B charts, but it showed the potential the pint-sized singer had. Ironically enough, he’s probably the same age in this video as his protegee, Justin Bieber, is now. Talk about coming full circle. He’s so adorable in this video trying to be all pimp daddy.
8. CAUGHT UP from CONFESSIONS, 2004
This was the fifth and final single released from his best-selling CD, “Confession” and also the only one from the album not to hit No. 1 on the charts, peaking at the 8th spot. I included this in my countdown for its sheer ambitiousness. The premise of the song and video is simple enough. Usher is “caught up” in a dangerous love triangle. Actress Joy Bryant plays a professional thief who is the object of desire from two men. The clip embedded below, is only the edited version of the full-length video where Naomi Campbell, P.Diddy, and Ryan Seacrest all make cameos.
7. U GOT IT BAD from 8701, 2001
According to Billboard, this was the 15th most successful song from their Hot 100 Songs of the Decade (2000-2009). While the normal ballad version of this song is good, the “Soulpower Remix” is sick. In fact, in a few markets, the remix was played substantially more than the original. Usher’s girlfriend at the time, Chili from TLC, played his love interest in the video.
6. U DON’T HAVE TO CALL from 8701, 2001
Four words. Usher dancing with Heelys. Remember those when they first came out. It freaked me out when I saw a kid gliding in the mall. I’m like… am I still drunk from the night before? Recently on ABDC, one of the groups had to incorporate the skating shoes for the Usher-themed night. Shooting took place in Los Angeles at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Another fun fact, future “Milkshake”r, Kelis, provided background vocals for this track.
5. BURN from CONFESSIONS, 2004
No it’s that painful tingly sensation when you pee but rather Usher’s second hit single from “Confession”. Originally it was planned to be the first release but was pushed backed because “Yeah!” was receiving massive airplay and tons of great feedback. When “Yeah!” left No. 1, it was succeeded by “Burn”, giving Usher 19 consecutive weeks at number one- the most for any solo artist ever. It’s also ranked at 21 in Billboard’s “Hot 100 Songs of The Decade” 2000-2009. “Burn” is about a relationship breakup, and the public referred to it as an allusion to Usher’s personal struggles. The concept of the song arose when Usher’s and TLC’s Chilli was starting to flame out. His producers stated, “Yo, you gotta let that burn”. Immediately it inspired them to write and a hit song was born.
4. CONFESSIONS PART II from CONFESSION, 2004
When this song about a man confessing about his infidelity and his pregnant mistress from a night one stand, everyone speculated it was about Usher and Chilli. Years later it was revealed it was actually about Jermaine Dupri (Usher’s producer). This became the third consecutive single from “Confessions” further cementing the success of the album. The song was split into two parts so that part one could focus about a guys discretions against his woman, while part two covered impregnating his mistress. This song did phenomenal in the North American but not so much so in other territories.
3. YOU MAKE ME WANNA from MY WAY, 1997
The next three songs, I admit, were hard for me to rank. I love them all and they bring back some amazing memories. “You Make Me Wanna” signaled Usher’s transition from teeny bop singer to a young adult. With this change, Usher “ushered” in a sexier vibe. Ironically enough, the single hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts on Usher’s 19th birthday. “You Make Me Wanna” is the second longest running single on Billboard’s “R&B/Hip-Hop” charts with 71 weeks. Only Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” has stayed longer with 75 weeks.
2. YEAH! from CONFESSIONS, 2004
Take that and rewind it back, Usher got the voice make ya booty go (clap)
Those lyrics were all over the clubs during the summer of 2004. The crunk/R&B jam was a bonafide hit from the get go. Recently on “America’s Best Dance Crew”, the producers had a week dedicated to Ush’s iconic dance moves. The group that drew “Yeah!” killed it. The “rewind it back” was insane. Google it, if you haven’t seen it. Initially when Usher recorded the “Confessions” album and submitted it to the label CEO, it didn’t include the track. LA Reid suggested Ush go back and record more tracks, as he felt there wasn’t a solid lead single (though “Burn” was already chosen), Good call on Reid’s part as “Yeah” earned Usher a grammy and landed at No 2. on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Songs of The Decade” (2000-2009).
1. U REMIND ME from 8701, 2001
After humming and hawing and flipping numerous coins, “U Remind Me” tops my list of Usher’s best songs. This was the lead single from his 2001 album “8701” and garnered him his first Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The song is about a man who meets a woman who seems like a nice catch, but he decides not to enter a relationship with her because she looks too much like an ex-girlfriend whom he had a bad breakup with. The music video marked the first time his real-life girlfriend Chilli from TLC appeared.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home), Love In Da Club, My Boo with Alicia Keys.
There you have it boys and girls. How well do you think I did in ranking Usher’s best songs? Which one would’ve topped your list? Weigh in below with your comments.