Story by Veronica Burns, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Usher World
Usher’s eighth solo studio album “Hard ll Love” was finally released on Friday, Sept. 16. I preordered this album two years ago when a title or release date was supposed to be coming soon, but Usher ended up pushing back the date since he wasn’t happy with what he had at that point. It has been over four years since the release of his last album “Looking For Myself,” so my expectations were high and I’m very happy to say it was worth the wait.
Usher’s motto for staying successful is “evolve or evaporate,” and this album is proof of that. Each album he creates has such a different sound and message than his previous work, which makes it exciting not knowing what to expect. Out of his past albums, this one reminds me of “Confessions” the most because of the message it shares. Usher brings in honest lyrics about regret while his classic themes of love and sex are still very prevalent. Some songs are more explicit than others, but luckily a cleaner version is available so I can listen to his angelic voice at work as well.
One of the lead singles off the album is “Crash,” and this track happens to be one of my favorites. Usher showcases his falsetto on the track where he asks questions such as, “Would you mind if I still loved you?” I can’t help but channel my inner “I Don’t Mind” in response to this while listening…someone should makes this remix happen for me.
The album was named after the single “Hard ll Love” and this the first song I listened to because I was so curious as to why. The track is very heavy in metaphors and similes, and at times it can seem like too much. What saves and makes this track great is how straightforward and genuine it is with its lyrics: “Girl I match your lucky card, I’ll make you take a loss / But I’m worth it, loves what we wage for.” He sings of being hard to love and hard to trust…but if you just believe him, like I do, he’s worth it.
Two other singles used to create hype for the album release include “Rivals,” featuring Future, and “No Limit,” featuring Young Thug. These two artists are both from Atlanta, which goes along perfectly with the more classic Usher theme present in the album (Peace Up A-Town #Yeah). “Hard ll Love” is a lot less pop than some of his previous works, and more classic R&B. He gets out of his comfort zone with discussing how he’s created and overcome challenges, all in the sexiest way possible of course.
Songs I’m not as keen on include “Champions,” which was created for the movie “Hands of Stone,” in which Usher portrays Sugar Ray Leonard. What I really don’t like about this particular song is that it should have just been released as a single, and not as part of the album. It doesn’t fit in with the story he’s been telling, and it’s so repetitive that I find myself slightly annoyed (sorry Usher, forever and always your #1 fan though). It was made for movie credits, and now is just an awkward addition to the end of the fifteen track album.
Overall, I’m very happy with how this album turned out. When I asked Usher in November 2014 (I saw him live and had a VIP access pass) what his favorite album was, I was surprised when he said “Looking For Myself.” He noted that it didn’t sell the best, but that wasn’t what mattered—the content was. I got this same vibe while listening to his new music. It seems more of what he wants to do, and less aimed at just getting hits on the radio. This album surprised me with the truth he shared, the new sound he experimented with while including throwbacks to classic Usher feels, and it paid off. I would recommend this album to anyone, and will be talking about it for quite some time.
About the Writer…
Veronica Burns is a senior studying a dual business communication major and journalism. Her loves include cats and actor Tom Hiddleston.