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USHER – CONFESSIONS - BMG / CRESCENDO
Record Rating: **

Usher - Confessions - BMG / CRESCENDO R&B seems to be the future of pop music. First there was Justin Timberlake who hit the charts with his pop/R&B effort - and in the process picked up a Grammy as well. A year later singer Ashanti did the same thing before Beyoncé from Destiny’s Child stole the limelight away from her.

And now, if you believe the hype that’s going around, Usher is the new R&B sensation of the year. With the release of his self-titled debut in 1994, Usher arrived as a fresh face, cute enough to make the girls scream but as non-threatening as a choir boy, which, of course, he really was. Fast forward 10 years later – and a breakup with onetime girlfriend Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of TLC and the dishy revelation that Usher had been unfaithful – and you have his fifth album Confessions. Buoyed by the runaway success of its first single, the infectious dance hit 'Yeah!', featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, the CD debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, selling more than 1.1 million copies in its first week. But the album compared to his last effort – fails to deliver and miserably. 2001’s 8701 affirmed his status to be the prince of R&B, but now he just sounds stale and repetitive. The album like Usher – is very overrated. And the fact that he’s trying to be like Justin Timberlake doesn’t score any brownie points with us. Worst of all - he even rips off Michael Jackson on tracks like 'Take Your Hand' and 'Truth Hurts' – listen to Jackson’s 'Off The Wall' or even 'Dangerous' to see where I’m coming from. And that’s sacrilege to any 80’s fan. The reason this album did as well as it did – is because today people are easily brainwashed into thinking, I have to buy this CD so I can be in the "in crowd" - largely thanks to the hype the media creates about the artist.

Have a mind of your own. If you want to hear some really good R&B music, get yourself some Marvin Gaye, KC & The Sunshine Band or even an early Lionel Richie album should do the trick. This one’s sure to give you a headache after you’re through listening to it – you have been warned.

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