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Usher, ‘Looking 4 Myself’ – Album Review

Usher Looking 4 Myself
RCA

Usher takes some big risks on his seventh LP ‘Looking 4 Myself,’ the follow-up to his 2010 Grammy-winning album ‘Raymond v. Raymond.’ The veteran R&B mack brings his signature falsetto vocals and lays it on top of genre-bending songs — some of which are a hit and others, are a miss.

Thanks to production assists from the Neptunes, Swedish House Mafia, will.i.am, Danaj, Jim Jonsin and others, there’s something for everyone on the album.

If you want dance-pop — he’s got it (‘Euphoria,’ ‘Scream’). If you want slow joints — he’s got it (‘What happened to You,’ ‘Lessons for the Lover’). If you want R&B — he’s got it (‘Twisted’ ‘Show Me’). If you want pop — he’s got it (Lookin’ 4 Myself,’ ‘Dive’).

In the midst of all of those genre-styled songs, there are a few standouts. The tranquil ballad ‘What Happened to You’ puts Usher in loverman mode as he searches for his true love. On the stirring ‘Sins of My Father,’ the singer hints at his past troubled relationship. He goes retro on the rhythmic ‘Twisted’ and the dance-pop track ‘Numb’ will have you fist pumping in the air like you just don’t care.

All and all, Usher’s ‘Lookin’ 4 Myself’ is a well-rounded collection and shows major growth for the 33-year-old crooner. It would have been nice if he stayed with a more consistent sound, but it’s an impressive album despite some missteps.

Listen to Usher’s ‘Looking 4 Myself’ in its entirety HERE.

1. ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’ Feat. will.I.Am & Keith Harris
This dance-pop track samples Billy Joel’s 1983 classic ditty ‘Uptown Girl,’ and it sounds a little like his 2010 hit ‘OMG,’ which was produced by will.i.am. It’s a catchy song as Usher sings lustful come-ons to a hot girl.

2. ‘Scream’
Another bouncy dance-pop track with Usher promising a night of satisfaction, guaranteed. We can’t wait to see Usher’s video for this song. [Listen Here]

3. ‘Climax’
Usher’s No. 1 hit still sounds great to our ears despite it being played ad nauseam on the radio. The falsetto-driven ballad is, arguably, one of the best songs of 2012. [Watch Video]

4. ‘I Care for U’
Whoa. This song comes out of left field on the album. Usher decides to tackle dubstep and it’s sounds, uh, okay. He might be out of his element with this one. We are all for Usher experimenting with different sounds, but this is a failed attempt.

5. ‘Show Me’
This is more of Usher’s lane right here. Produced by Danja, the bouncy song boasts whining synthesizers and elements of Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean.’ On the anthemic track, Usher persuades everyone to leave their problems behind and shake their booties on the dance floor. Sounds good to us!

6. ‘Lemme See’ Feat. Rick Ross
This is Usher’s requisite urban-radio track. Produced by Jim Jonsin, the R&B mack taunts a sexy lady on his bedroom prowess. “You’ve been saying all night long that you couldn’t wait to get me all alone / What you gonna do to me?” he croons. This song also features Rick Ross’ tacky (and shameful) Trayvon Martin-mentioned guest verse. [Listen Here]

7. ‘Twisted’ (Feat. Pharrell Williams)
A big standout on the album. Usher channels Jackie Wilson on this infectious retro song, which is produced by the Neptunes. We are still scratching heads over “bootie substitute-y” but we can dig it. Over a stop-and-go beat, synthesizers and plucking guitars, the singer’s got a brand new bag with this joint. Thumbs up. [Listen Here]

8. ‘Dive’
Here’s Mr. Entertainment’s requisite pop ballad. His soft falsetto carries the tender song as he metaphorically compares love to the crashing waters of the ocean. It’s not a bad song and Usher sounds comfortable and in his element on this tune.

9. ‘What Happened to U’
Every R&B album needs a proper slow jam and this is one is phenomenal. ‘What Happened to You’ is pure R&B perfection. Crafted by Noah “40″ Shebib, who is Drake’s go-to producer, the ballad features elements of ‘Stay With Me’ by DeBarge (made popular by Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘One More Chance‘ [Remix]). On the song, Usher is looking for his perfect soul mate. Double thumbs up.

10. ‘Looking 4 Myself’ (Feat. Luke Steele)
Usher teams up with U.K. artist Luke Steele on this enjoyable synth-pop song. This should appeal to the younger crowd with its drum-machine beat and whining synthesizers. “Now that I got you what we are gonna do / You gonna be my by side,” he sings.

11. ‘Numb’
Usher is back to the dance-pop stuff — this time enlisting Swedish House Mafia to craft this fist-pumping anthemic track. “They say life is a battlefield / I say bring it on,” he sings. The song is perfect for the clubs and we’re not mad at it.

12. ‘Lessons for the Lover’
This is a perfectly good love ballad. Written by Rico Love, Usher seduces his female lover into the bedroom. Rico Love sends out demands (“turn the lights off“) in the beginning of the song, urging us get busy with our significant other.

13. ‘Sins of My Father’
Another big standout on the album. The Salaam Remi-produced track is Usher’s “confession” about being a tortured soul in a volatile relationship (*wink* Tameka Foster). The crooner believes that his bad relationship is karma for his father being a rolling stone. You have to read in-between the lines with this soulful-yet-bluesy song.

14. ‘Euphoria’
Usher goes back home with Swedish Mafia House and comes out with a great Ibiza-style dance track that should help him crack the European market. It sounds big and brings euphoria to our ears.

15. ‘I.F.U.’
Whoa! Usher gets freaky-deaky on this track. While on the other songs he seduces and teases his female lover, on ‘I.F.U.,’ he makes it’s clear — he’s looking for a one-night stand. “I think sex was made for strangers / Making love is for the ones who plan to stay together,” he sings. Oh behave, Usher.

Bonus Tracks

16. ‘Say the Words’ Feat. Surahn Sid
A very mellow track for the grown and sexy folks (hey UAC radio stations!). Usher yearns of holding the hands of the perfect girl of his dreams.

17. ’2nd Round’
This song might have initially been on the cutting room floor but Usher probably said, “What the heck, throw it on as a bonus track.” It’s doesn’t connect with us but maybe after a couple of spins we might like it. As for now, this is a thumbs down.

18. ‘Hot Thing’ Feat. A$AP Rocky
You would think that a collaborative song with Usher and in-demand rapper A$AP Rocky would produced a head-nodding R&B/hip-hop banger. Unfortunately, this is not it. We expected more with this duet, but in our opinion, it’s a skippable track.

Watch the Usher ‘Climax’ Video

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