Usher Takes A Bold Pro-Nightclub Sex Stand

Dan Gibson | May 27, 2008 10:00 am

From time to time, we like to round up the all-important, all-summarizing last sentences of the biggest new-music reviews. Under consideration today is the new full-length by Usher,Here I Stand, which hits stores today:

• “The litany of mediocre relationship songs–‘Before I Met You,’ ‘His Mistake,’ ‘Love You Gently’–doesn’t help matters any, though the yawning ‘Lifetime’ does offer a possible new outlet. Instead of being the soundtrack for the clubs, Usher could turn much of Here I Stand into the soundtrack for any number of Lifetime made-for-TV movies.” [Newsday]

• “Because the bylaws governing current hip-hop soul music clearly state that one must use every second of disc capacity available, Stand overstays its welcome. There’s fuzzy filler from (‘What’s Your Name’) and a few too many slow jams. Among the weaker tracks is ‘Club.’ With its quivery groove and exhibitionist (not to mention unsanitary) come-on, it fails to ignite as either dance track or sensual fantasy. But the even mellower remix, ‘Love in This Club Pt. II,’ featuring a sleepy rap from Lil Wayne and a vocal from Beyoncé, must be heard for the lyrics alone. At one point, Beyoncé hilariously trills, ‘I strongly doubt this velvet rope would hold me up.’ We’d prefer not to speculate on that matter. But with one foot in the glittering nighttime world and another in his lifetime pledge to home and hearth, Usher has found solid ground on which to stand.” [Boston Globe]

• “Even as the quality of the material fluctuates, you can count on Usher’s singing to provide something memorable–sweetness and power on the anthemic ballad ‘Moving Mountains’ or relaxed intimacy on the light, minimalist Motown homage ‘Something Special.’ Usher might be naturally gifted, but he’s not a visionary like Prince or prime-time Jackson. With an eye on Broadway, a foot in hip-hop, his pelvic region in an R. Kelly-like erogenous zone and his heart in buoyant pop-R&B, he’s aiming to forge an all-purpose entertainer. But these ambitions just seem to fence in what could be one of pop music’s great free spirits.” [Los Angeles Times]

• “Through it all runs a voice that has become more self-assured and adventurous, paired with a charismatic sex appeal all the more potent for its new subtlety. (‘This album doesn’t call for me to have my shirt off,’ Usher has said, but that doesn’t mean he no longer has killer abs.) Here I Stand isn’t a home run; no album with lyrics like those on ‘Trading Places’ or a gratuitous cameo by (on ‘What’s My Name?’) could be. But it certainly adds to the argument that ‘Same Girl,’ the 2007 Kelly/Usher collaboration, was in fact a passing of the torch.” [Chicago Sun-Times]