Album Preview: Usher – ‘Here I Stand’

Since its release in 2004, Confessions has been labeled Usher’s greatest album to date. Now his much-anticipated follow-up, Here I Stand (May 27), has critics and fans around the world debating if Usher will outdo himself or take a backseat to rising R&B heartthrobs like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, and Mario.

Within his four year absenteeism, Usher got married, had a baby, performed on Broadway, and released a fragrance, but still found time to record his fifth studio album. The R&B showman has matured in more ways than one and this effort definitely shows that growth. was on the scene for the exclusive listening session at Jive Records in Manhattan to find out what type of stand Usher’s here to make.

1. Intro

Usher takes a cue from his “Chicago” performance using a made-for-Broadway tempo by belting out lyrics in a deep alto tone usually used in the theatre.

2. “Love In This Club” featuring Young Jeezy
Produced by Polow Da Don

Clearly a familiar track that has everyone attempting to literally make love in the club. Usher’s first single grabs the listener’s attention by sending rhythms that force you to assume the position and get busy with some grind time.

3. “This Ain’t Sex”
Produced by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Jazze Pha

A dance record that demands the ladies to report to the dance floor with hips swaying, stomping it out with a mean two-step. Usher still has a love for the club scene, but his disclaimer states, “We ain’t having sex, we just making moments.”

4. “Trading Places”
Produced by L.O.S. Da Maestro

“You pay for dinner and take me to see a movie.” Usher switches the roles on this track with a male version of Destiny Child’s “Cater 2 You.” He shamelessly demands that his woman do all the things he would normally do for her. He sings, “Take out the trash! Walk the dog!” Towards the end of the track, Usher lets out a shrilling melodic scream as the strings of the guitar put the song to bed.

5. “Moving Mountains”
Produced by “Tricky” Stewart and Terius “The-Dream” Nash

The second single off the album, Usher sings in a pitch he normally wouldn’t be heard in. The beat slightly changes midway through the song while the instruments are intensified.

6. “What’s Your Name?” featuring
Produced by

This whimsical beat doesn’t sound like it was initially created for Usher. He speaks in a monotonous tone, repeatedly asking, “What’s your name?” while sirens and excessive winds blow in the background. This is possibly the “different” sound Usher was going for.

7. “Prayer For You” (Interlude)

Usher’s baby boy cries as his father sings to him. He jokes and says, “Do I really sound that bad?” Usher rejoices over his gift of life and prays for his son to have a wonderful life. He promises to be an excellent father. He sings, “You carry my name; I pray that you’re better than me.”

8. “Something Special”
Produced by Jermaine Dupri

Initially an acoustic joint but then the beat drops. Usher says, “This one’s for the lovers!” The perfect tune for anyone’s wedding reception. The gears of this album shift to a more monogamous, growing speed.

9. “Love You Gently”
Produced by Dre & Vidal

The sound of the piano caresses Usher’s voice as he talks about getting it on in the bedroom. He shouts out some bedroom music making greats. “How ’bout some foreplay? Got that Sade, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye too!” This song will spark a flame in all the lovers’ sex lives.

10. “Best Thing” featuring Jay-Z
Produced by Jermaine Dupri

Usher and Jermaine Dupri team up to take Usher back to his roots. It’s more of the Usher sound that we’re familiar with. Jay acknowledges Ush’s transformation saying, “Ush, is this what it come to man? Seeds become plants, boys become men.”

11. “Before I Met You”
Produced by Bryan-Michael Cox

Heavy drums play and a few strums of the guitar are heard, but the Confessions continue. Usher says he used to lie and cheat before he met his lifetime lady. “I was a hustler and a player, girl, before I met you.”

12. “His Mistakes”
Produced by Stargate

The track takes a somber approach to relationship problems. Usher talks about being compared to his girl’s ex-man. “Just because he did, you think I’m cheating?”

13. “Appetite”
Produced by Danja

Usher introduces the track with his signature “Yeaah man!” He tells a story full of deceit and lust. “Wifey at home and wedding band on my hand.” Heavy flutes play in the background while Usher spells his name like he’s done before, “U-S-H-E-R-R-A-Y-M-O-N-D.” Usher confesses he has a wandering eye, but promises to do right by his lady.

14. “What’s a Man to Do?”
Produced by Stargate

A Native American call intros the song, then the actual beat drops as Usher lets out a few cries of “Ooh” and “Oh Baby!”

15. “Lifetime”
Produced by James “JLack” Lackey

Usher slips back into the early ’90s with a smooth rhythm and blues track that questions the album’s theme of growth, but still satisfies the ear. Usher comfortably sounds like himself on this one.

16. “Love in This Club (Part II)” featuring Beyoncé and Lil Wayne
Produced by Soundz

Part two of the smash first single serves as a nice follow-up. The self-proclaimed king takes to the throne with his queen as they harmoniously speak to one another. Usher recruits the distinguished remixer Lil Wayne to lay a verse on the remix. Keri Hilson was rumored to originally be on this track before Beyoncé.

17. “Here I Stand”
Produced by Dre & Vidal

A slow jam with a heavy piano emphasis, Usher testifies that his lady is the only one for him and he thanks those that have gotten him to where he is now.

18. “Will Work For Love” (Hidden Track)
Produced by J.R. Rotem

Ushers drags out all of his words in a whining pitch (i.e. “Hellllp,” “Tiiiime,” “Awaaaay”). It’s beautiful to want to work for love, but he doesn’t quite convey such a sweet message with the moans and groans.

–Angela Barrett in New York