This Friday Eargoggles installment comes to us from the venerable Tony Barbieri in our NYC office. Enjoy.
A little while back, Usher decided to share one of his new tracks, “Climax,” while making an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Instantly, my ears were alive with the sweet melodies and carefully crafted hooks. I couldn’t help but sing along in falsetto (which to my ears sounded identical). I mentioned to my wife that I would like to hear the rest of the album.
Fast forward to last weekend. My wife had put together a collection of music and podcasts for our 9-hour drive to and from Ohio for a wedding. Unbeknownst to me, she had included the new Usher album. While cruising down highway 80 through Pennsylvania, she took control of the IPod© to switch to the next track. What happened next was magical.
Beyond the Hype
The lead-in track to Usher’s new album has a hype moment in the beginning. What better way to prepare the listener for what is to come then to begin by hyping up the journey they are about to take?
What a journey it turns out to be. The collection of songs Usher has put together here has something for everyone: Club beats, R&B, rock N’ roll, even a bit of indie rock. You can tell he has taken some risks with this album, and to me has succeeded.
One of Usher’s producer’s on this album, Rico Love, said: “What he wanted to do on Looking 4 Myself was explore himself musically. He stepped outside of what was safe and normal. He wanted to make an album that expressed where he was going sonically and not just where he’s been for the past 12 to 15 years. He’s growing, developing, moving, shaking, and being something that’s new, cultural, and that’s affecting people sonically. That’s kind of forcing the people to grow and elevate.”
When interviewed by The Guardian, Usher described his album as a “consistent” and “eclectic” project. He considered his collaboration with producer Diplo was “a risk” and followed by saying:
But hey man, if you take no risk, you stand to gain nothing in life. Dare to be different. I don’t look like you, I don’t walk like you, I don’t dance like you, I don’t move like you or talk like you. That doesn’t make me odd, that makes me who I am.
Whilst talking to MTV, Usher stated that Looking 4 Myself is “the most artistic of an album” he has ever had in history. When questioned by Reuters during an interview regarding the latter quote, and how this project was different, Usher explained that he felt he was near a ‘rebirth’ and that prior to Looking 4 Myself, he felt restricted and conformed to a specific standard. He said to himself, “I gotta go with what I feel and hopefully people will follow me”.
I will follow you Usher. The range of emotion he shares in this album really resonates with me on another level. If this is the path of evolution he plans on taking, soon I don’t think we’ll be able to recognize him as homo sapien.
If I can extrapolate the evolutionary pattern he will follow it will most likely be similar to an Usher + Ridley Scott Alien life form that has perfected the art of creating sound. I don’t think the Engineers could have planned for this.