But then what’s the euphemism for actual kissing?
Andy Hutchins: The most appropriate thing I will ever crib from Wikipedia, especially given the footnote: “Idolator’s Carl Williott suggested the song wasn’t about kissing, but rather an ode to oral sex.”
Megan Harrington: Usher sure loves keeping the censors guessing, huh?
Anthony Easton: I like the tension between the free floating pleasure and the lock-it-down monogamy of this. For a track that rolls around and doesn’t rise or rest, the lyrics’ trying to figure out how to process a wide variety of desires is more fascinating than it has any right to be. Extra point for the hand-claps.
Jer Fairall: He’s got the D’Angelo/Miguel vibe down, but recounting the sheer number of inferior blow jobs in the middle of this song-worthy one? Not exactly sweet talk, Ursh.
Thomas Inskeep: Coming out of anyone else’s mouth, let alone JT’s, these oversexed come-ons (really, they’re come-afters) would sound gross. But Usher, uniquely, has the panache to get them over. 20 years into his career — let that sink in for a moment — he gets better and better as a singer, and by evidence of the song’s video, the same is true for his dancing. Usher is the true, and frankly only, heir to Michael Jackson’s throne. He hasn’t yet made his Thriller (though Confessions came closer than you think), but he may do so yet. The salsa snares here are perfection; the multi-tracked-to-heaven multiple Ushers on “KISSERRRRRRR” are even better. The first truly great, classic single of 2014.
David Lee: What I love more about “Good Kisser” than Usher’s falsetto — which he continues to harness with better results as he ages — is the dazzling show of percussive mastery from Pop & Oak, the R&B production duo responsible for Elle Varner’s Perfectly Imperfect, Miguel’s “Use Me,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love.” They just get it. It being the delicate balance of sex jams’ aural give and take. Just listen to the storm of hunger they whip up here, all panting snares and primal bassline, with brief snippets of Usher meant to titillate further. Yet they resist the urge to go full volcanic in the release, crafting a chorus that settles on warm pleasure. It’s high time these guys got their own Wikipedia page.
Brad Shoup: I’m sure this killed on the console. All that atmosphere! That mystical vinyl presence, Stevie-sounding keyboards, not an EDM touch in sight. Like an all-ages animated feature, though, the pop-culture references are a superfluous concession. A track about head game has to be embarrassingly literal or nearly wordless. But hey, the vibe’s good; it sounds like nothing but bridges.
Alfred Soto: Promising — check out the bass and drums — but after a minute he wrings the conceits dry, despite a stunner of a bridge. He’s stilll some singer, isn’t he? And he’s getting better. A pop kiss, then, not serious tongue action.