'Hard II Love': Usher’s new album and the climate of today’s R&B
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Expectations can dictate how fans judge music. For Usher, this is a reality that proves to be challenging each time he puts out new material. The trend continues with the release of
Fans want Usher to recapture the magic of songs like “Caught Up” and “Burn,” so there’s confusion when they hear him put out something like “No Limit.” In principle, the song isn’t much different than singles in his past such as “Yeah!” and “Love in This Club” – songs that are up-tempo and embrace elements of hip-hop. Yet, “No Limit” just doesn’t compare in terms of quality due to lyrics that sound juvenile coming from Usher; the song comes off as more of a forced effort than his past singles
In addition to matching his past work, Usher has fans that want him to represent traditional R&B because it’s absent in pop culture. He doesn’t fulfill their wishes on most of Hard II Love,
As the music industry has become less and less lucrative, the mainstream scene of most genres has grown homogenous. Record labels have less money to invest into artists, so fewer artists are supported well, and those that are usually fit into a trend that’ll lead to hit songs and lots of streams. Although this change in the industry has made some genres become repetitive, R&B has suffered a heavier blow and largely disappeared from the mainstream. It seems that the genre is not as easy of a sell to listeners across America as the pop and rap songs that dominate airwaves
With this in mind, big name artists often take cues from Pop or Rap when it comes to their singles. The motivation ranges from strategically adapting to experimenting for the sake of growth. Yet, stepping outside of R&B tends to bring them success and Usher’s work in recent years is a testament to this. The video for “Good Kisser” — a good song that’s distinctly R&B — has just under 40 million views on YouTube. Many artists would love to have that view count, but it pales in comparison to the 129 million views for the audio
Now, this isn’t an excuse for Usher’s artistic choices. However, he and many of his peers are directly responding to the industry they’re in with the music they put out. With this in mind, his collaborations with the likes of Future and Metro Boomin shouldn’t come as total surprises. The songs actually come together more smoothly than “No Limit.”
Furthermore, Usher bridges the gap between his musical pedigree and today’s trends on a few songs on Hard II Love
Hard II Love