R&B’s bridesmaid takes another swing…
Martin Kavka: With the “real” drums and the breaking of her voice in its higher register, she might have well called this “And Another (Slightly Less Funky) Thing.”
Al Shipley: Her post-Rich Harrison (and possibly post-hit) career would be more dignified if she wasn’t still hanging around other similarly breakbeat-happy producers, and if she still wasn’t throwing the same “woah-oh” vocal hook over every other damn song. It’s nice and all, but if you told me it was a deep cut from Touch I’d probably fall for it, and I own that album.
Hillary Brown: Competent, not magic. It’s like someone rolled Rich Harrison up in a Snuggie. This is the least enthusiastic 6 ever.
Alex Macpherson: An odd choice of lead single, especially one which needs to resuscitate a sadly flagging career. Despite the way “Why R U” seems to purée the Amerie aesthetic into one song, from the herky-jerky beats to the organ-piano-bass arrangement to the way the narrative is volleyed from lead to backing vocal to the “oh-oh-oh”s, it’s an understated but classy affair. It’s all the better for not imposing itself immediately on you, but it’s also hard to see it re-establishing Amerie as a major force in R&B.
Michaelangelo Matos: Oh nice — they’ve given her cut-up beats, the kind she soars over, and not just on “1 Thing” all those years ago. This doesn’t soar nearly as much: the harmonized refrain loses the effervescent rawness that make her a compelling vocalist, and it’s not all that great a refrain. The rest of the record feels catchier than the chorus, somehow — weird.
Martin Skidmore: The album has more star producers involved than you would have thought there was room for, but this is down to the Buchanans, about whom I know nothing. Her voice has more muscle than warmth or character, so she needs a punchy beat to suit her, and this more or less delivers, on the strong chorus in particular.
Rodney J. Greene: Since “1 Thing”, the formula’s been blanded out to a point where the percussion mania has settled into an unobtrusive boom-bap, chop-and-slice guitars are replaced by slick keys, and vividly giddy lyrics ditched for Oprahtudes. One important element hasn’t changed, though: even given weak material, Amerie will still put every last bit of her petite guts into out-wailing any number of heftier-voiced singers.
Dave Moore: Amerie’s return reminds me that I really liked her last album and yet can’t remember anything about it now, and this song will probably go the same route. She stays the dense harmony course that Danity Kane unexpectedly took to greater heights last year, but the verses are generic and the chorus only appeals intellectually — rising counterpoint tension as her voice stays in her upper register and the chords descend down the scale, should feel like sinking into the depths of a post-breakup hell, but as is feels more like petulant sulking to the bottom of a gloomy post-he-never-called-me-back staircase.
Alfred Soto: No R&B singer can convey hysteria and serenity as confoundedly as Amerie. In all her best songs there’s a moment when she seems to walk away from the song and watch, without melismatic pretentions or a trace of narcissism. While this doesn’t rank with “1 Thing” or “Take Control,” the production teases this generic piece of purported hitcraft: the shuffle beat, piano sample, and multitracked Amerie popping up all over the chorus. A very good Jody Watley single, and we need more of those.
John M. Cunningham: One of Amerie’s favorite subjects seems to be the dizzy, often irrational surrender to temptation, and this self-aware lament indeed bears a superficial lyrical resemblance to her 2007 song “Hate 2 Love U.” But dark catharsis like this is such a good fit for her voice, which can go rough around the edges and still sound dynamic and assertive, so she can make a whole career of it, as far as I’m concerned. Compared to the vivacious soul-funk workouts that were the lead-off singles from her last two albums, this is maybe a step down, but it’s not much of one.
Ian Mathers: That chorus really is a bit of a damp squib; just the same line repeated three or four times. The classy/boom-bap production is very nice, and Amerie continues to be a personable and powerful singer, but the reason “1 Thing” and “Gotta Work” stood out was because those virtues were married to powerful choruses. Without that, “Why R U” is merely passable.
Chuck Eddy: kriss0unique (22 hours ago) hey does any one kno the name of this song i kno it says “why r u” but if u click the otha why r u video its a hole nothing amerie song flex been playin both of these songs but one of em are missin a name thanxs… reply baq to me