First Hit #1: July 24, 2004
Well, American Idol did give us a brief break in Usher’s dominance over 2004, but that was only one week. He returns to the chart with the second part of Confessions, which presents him as a massive prick.
It’s a daring move, because it’s difficult to make a sexy slow jam about getting someone other than your girlfriend pregnant. It’s even more amazing that Usher actually kind of pulls it off. Sure, it doesn’t present him as a particularly good person, but he knows how to sing, and he actually manages to make something catchy and somewhat sexy out of what has to be at least somewhat of a turnoff to any woman he’s singing to – after all, the song still is about getting someone pregnant. It’s honest, and there is some appeal to that, but the real thing is that Usher can make any subject into a slow jam with his silky smooth vocal. Confessions is a reflection of Mary Poppins’ old adage that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down – Usher singing bad news makes it doesn’t seem so bad. Frankly, he could have a side business singing people bad things, and no matter how much of a massive prick the lyrics might make him sound, his vocal is so appealing that it doesn’t actually seem so bad. It’s believable that the woman he loves will take him back, even though she shouldn’t, because he does have a voice that could talk someone off a cliff.
Of course, the single’s chances were not hurt by the fact that Usher is an exceedingly handsome man, and the extended sequence of him shirtless in the video is a kind of an admission of this.