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'Confessions' Turns 10: Ranking The Songs On Usher's Classic Album

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Usher's 'Confessions' album is undoubtedly classic, but how do the songs stack up? You might be surprise at our choice for #1.When Usher released his landmark album Confessions on March 23, 2004, he never realized that he was setting a new bar for contemporary R&B. He merely huddled up in the studio with his core team of producers and writers—Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Jermaine Dupri, Dre & Vidal, and Bryan-Michael Cox—and had conversations about women, sex and relationships. Then they got to work. From those powwows he developed a progressive yet unapologetically R&B masterpiece that has sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. by simply keeping it real(istic).

As Usher’s finest work approaches it’s 10th bornday, VIBE picks apart the album track-by-track, ranking the songs from great to greatest. —John Kennedy Usher's

16. "Follow Me"

We’ve got a confession: Confessions ain’t perfect (sorry!), and this is the sore hitchhiker's thumb catching a free ride. While Usher gives insight into the difficulties of life in the spotlight, this doesn't really fit the album’s concept.


15. "Simple Things"

This mellow groove peddles the popular money-can’t-buy-love cliché. “You’re chasing a dime, losing a treasure,” preaches Pastor Raymond. Try not to doze off in the back pew.


14. "Take Your Hand"

Usher has everything he wants in a partner. But the pressures of commitment are building. Will he love you—or leave you alone? Rich Harrison makes his sole beat placement count, btw.


13. "Truth Hurts"

Usher points the finger back at a lover he suspects of being unfaithful. “I got reason to believe that you been foolin’ around,” he sings over a smooth instrumental. Sounds like a guilty conscious to us.


12. "Caught Up"

This should’ve been called “There’s Something About Chilli.” Because it’s obvious that this upbeat single was dedicated to the C in TLC, that girl that “really turned me out... Her body was so tight.” Indeed.


11. "Bad Girl"

When this guitar-powered dance floor anthem comes on in the club, you can instantly tell the good girls from the ladies with a dark side. Get me one of them!


10. Superstar (Interlude)

Even as an interlude, this xylophone-sprinkled serenade is just perfect.


9. "Do It To Me"

We’ve long known Usher is good for a ballad. But he reaches into the back of Prince’s freaky closet for inspiration on this sexy slow jam, courtesy of Jermaine Dupri. “Watchin’ you work the stick in the ride/The motion how you move from 3rd to 5,” he falsettos from a woman’s perspective. If you’ve never featured this on your horizontal playlist, you’re doing it all wrong.


8. "Confessions Pt. II"

Usher is at his storytelling best on the elaborate second half of the “Confessions” saga. This is some Love & Hip-Hop-type drama, pulled straight from the personal life of the album’s primary producer (JD wrote in an autobiographical book proposal that Confessions is all about "me cheating on my steady girlfriend, having a baby with that other woman and having to confess to everything that happened to my main girl.").

[Ed note: Dupri calls the remix of this record, which features Kanye West, Twista, and, most memorably, an incarcerated Shyne Po, “the hottest remix I ever did in my life,” which is simply not true. Aside for Shyne’s collect call bars being so so inaudible, this is a classic that doesn’t need hip-hop’s fingerprint ink smudged all over.]


7. "That’s What It’s Made For"

Who hasn’t been here before? Men and women alike can relate to his raw-dog/safe-sex tug of war that immortalized the phrase "lost in the sauce.". Usher knows better. And so do you.


6. "Confessions (Interlude)"

You felt the impact of Confessions not only on the TV, radio and club scene, but also in everyday conversations. Say word your innocent phone call has never been answered with “I'm in the booth, I'mma call you right back” or serious conversation punctuated by “Put that on everything.” That alone gets Confessions’ first interlude in the top 10 (the extended version, “All Bad” might’ve made best three). But more importantly, “Confessions (Interlude)” is the album’s conceptual introduction, put in its plainest terms. Usher lets it all hang out.


5. "Superstar"

Usher reverses roles over an oh-so-soulful Dre & Vidal production, playing man-groupie to his queen. Whyyy wasn't this a single?!?


4. "Burn"

There Usher goes, singing our lives again. Put this in a folder with masterpieces like Donnell Jones’ “Where I Wanna Be,” and R.L and Deborah Cox’s “We Can’t Be Friends”—ballads that perfectly articulate the complex emotions attached to loving and letting go.


3. "Can U Handle It?"

Long before Robin Thicke began blurring lines, he swooped in at the last minute to lace one of Confessions’ deepest album cuts. "Can U Handle It" is vulnerable, bold and sensual—the perfect foreplay for coital classics like “Do It To Me” and “That’s What It’s Made For.” Plus, that orgasmic falsetto scream at the 3:56 mark of “Can U Handle It?” is the single best moment on the entire LP.


2. "Yeah!"

Twelve weeks at No. 1 don’t lie. In the canon of Lil’ Jon-produced turn-ups that reigned the mid-2000’s (“Get Low,” “No Problem” “Damn!”), this R&B-injected cut is ironically the most memorable. Ludacris’ clever rhymes were the exclamation point on pop’s first crunk & B song, one that paved the way for Ciara (“Goodies”) and Amerie (“Touch”) later. Ursher and Lil Jon changed the game—and made the booty go “clap!” in the process.


1. "Throwback"

Back in the early 2000s, when Just Blaze was busy cooking up street heat for Jay Z, Fabolous and The Diplomats, the last place we’d expect to find his name printed were the liner notes of an Usher album. But this out-the-box collaboration, orchestrated by album co-A&R Mark Pitts, was the perfect combo of soul-sampling and soul-baring. The song seemed to simultaneously sum up Usher and Chilli’s dissolved relationship and soundtrack the relationship regrets of millions of listeners.

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