Ten Years Later: Revisiting Usher’s ‘Confessions’ And Its All-Time Great Song Sequencing

03.23.14 4 years ago 27 Comments


Consider it purely coincidence on the day the Good Lord rested, an album adored and criticized for its theme of infidelity celebrates its official first decade on Earth.

Usher’s Confessions was released March 23, 2004. In the 10 years since, the album – a follow-up to 2001’s vastly underrated 8701 – has gone on to establish itself as one of the landmark albums in pop culture. In other words, there isn’t much more to praise to be dished out about an album finding itself in music’s extremely rare “diamond club.”

Alongside the monster singles “Yeah!” and “Burn,”* the collapse of he and Chili’s relationship and becoming a musical legend in the process, however, is a moment from Confessions not often mentioned with the album’s high points.

It’s a four-track sequence – that for one person, at least – turned a truly great album into an irreplaceable pillar in R&B lore.

* – This includes The Boondocks version.

“Bad Girl”

In my heart, I always knew “Bad Girl” was a great record. I never not liked it, but all credit to DJ Tay James for opening my eyes to how infectious “Bad Girl” truly was.

Seeing the people’s reaction whenever it dropped when Tay DJ’d in my undergrad’s student center – especially on Friday’s when everyone skipped class to attend “12-2” – was pretty damn special. It’s just a feel good record anyone can appreciate and a damn near perfect spark for what was on pace to become a storied quartet of records.

“That’s What It’s Made For”

We’re all grown. Whether you’re married, engaged or whatever, and you’re over the age of 25, you’ve had a fling, or in more explicit terms, a “f*ck buddy.” This person wasn’t Mr. or Mrs. Right, but they were Mr. or Mrs. Right Now. You understood the dynamics of the situation. They understood the dynamics of the situation. A long-term relationship wasn’t going to work, but having a reliable option to drunk text leaving the club knowing they would respond was the absolute (second) best feeling.

“That’s What It’s Made For” is the soundtrack for you and the flings of summers or school years past. To be fair, the entire album was, but still. Work with me here. Everything covered in the song was accurate, sans one one implication. Go Rawdog Ricky if you want. The drive home looked like this.

Duke Struggle Face

Having wrestled with the idea over the past decade, “Made” is Confessions‘ best song. Ask me tomorrow and chances are it’ll be different.

“Can U Handle It?”

Otherwise known as, “Would like a massage?” music.

Where the first two songs were more of the carefree, “hell-yeah-let’s-do-it-in-a-movie-theater” variety, we now enter the grown folks portion of the sequence.

There’s no turning back from “Handle.” That song being played is a non-verbal mutual agreement stating in a matter of hours (or seconds, no judgement!) a window is going to need to be cracked. Light some candles, get some strawberries and whisper old Billy Dee Williams lines in your lady’s ear to let her know how much you care, you scoundrel.

Or if you’re in college, smoke a tightly rolled J and allow Usher and the lack of inhibitions create a memory.

“Do It To Me”

Usher gave you the kick-back, chill song. Then he created the fling anthem. Then came the Chris Paul lob pass in “Handle.” And good things normally follow Chris Paul lob passes.

“Do It To Me” is the climax of the quartet. And you’re damn right pun intended. Now go be Blake Griffin.

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