Music fans, especially in the R&B space, have been celebrating Usher since his viral Tiny Desk performance. He performed a few of his countless hits including “You Make Me Wanna” (1997); “U don’t Have to Call” (2002); and “Confessions” (2004). He even sang the fan-favorite, non-single, “Superstar” (although, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say every song on the Confessions album is a fan-favorite). As Usher continues to bring the nostalgia at his Las Vegas residency, SBC wants to highlight a single that we fondly remember and believe is criminally underrated: “Good Kisser.”
Producers: Pop & Oak, Flippa, JProof & Terry “Tru” Sneed
Vocal producer: Johnny “Natural” Najera
Songwriters: JProof, OAK, Flippa, Jeff Barry, Bobby Bloom, Terry “Tru” Sneed, Pop Wansel & Usher
On May 5, 2014, “Good Kisser” arrived in audio and visual form. It was the lead single from Usher’s eighth studio album, Hard II Love. The R&B number is a blend of contemporary and old school funk that steadily builds, especially at 2:48, when the veteran does his signature soulful belting. It is important to note that a few years prior, Usher had expanded his sound to that of dance and electro pop with hits like “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “OMG” feat. will.i.am (2010) and “Scream” (2012). Despite the popularity of these songs, some of his core base felt alienated. They probably were happy for his success, but missed him making R&B songs. Although, he never did go entirely EDM on the albums that featured those singles.
The point is, one would think “Good Kisser,” in all of its R&B glory, would have been better received–bear-hugged, in fact. It’s not just R&B, it’s good R&B, and it comes from one of the genre’s leading voices. Maybe the song was simply a victim of its time. There are always quality singles that are overlooked and/or without recognition regardless of how famous the artist. Even with Usher, sometimes one would think 8701 and Confessions are the only LP’s worth listening to from him, when in reality, some of his best material overall are on many of the albums that followed (and surprise, surprise, a lot are B-sides).
About two months after “Good Kisser,” Usher released “She Came To Give It To You,” his second collaboration with Nicki Minaj. This single is also doused in funk and soul and while its video got airtime, it was scrapped from Hard II Love, and only made it to the Japanese edition of the album (at least it made it somewhere). Not to mention, this was during an era where people were demanding rhythm and blues. So, let’s review here. R&B music, check. R&B from Usher, check. Nicki Minaj feature, check. So, what went wrong here? How did two quality R&B songs, by Usher, underperform? Would they have fared better if they came out today?
We have yet to hear Usher put out another track with that sound, and we can’t blame him. On a positive note, at least the songs were made and shared with the world. Just imagine or think of all the amazing music we don’t get to hear.