Thursday, July 30th, 2020

Usher – I Cry

He can cry, he can write a thoughtful song about fighting toxic masculinity, but can he do a front flip on beat?


Wayne Weizhen Zhang: As a statement of vulnerability and solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, “I Cry” succeeds on every front. And that matters more than any comment that I could make about how unremarkable it sounds. 

Alfred Soto: The evolution of Usher from a singer whose empathy outmatched his command over his instrument into an artist who only needed the right vessel so he could unleash his newfound command was obvious by Confessions, long ago and far away. On “I Cry,” Usher connects his own professed lack of compassion for the sisters in his life with his self-absorption with his arsenal of gulps, octave leaves, and melismatic tricks. He shouldn’t have gotten away with it. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Protest Song as Lenny Kravitz pastiche — the opening piano chords, all boring majesty, fake you out in their self seriousness, but Usher’s strength has always been making rigid songs sound more fun than their base state. 

Thomas Inskeep: A lovely, sensitive (yet not mushy) midtempo record about how men shouldn’t be afraid to cry, sung absurdly well. I mean, we all know that Usher can sing his ass off, but this is some truly great vocalizing. Combine this with late 2019’s “Don’t Waste My Time” and Mr. Raymond’s got a solid new album gestating.

Katherine St Asaph: A lush soul arrangement, all glissando and falsetto and slo-mo teardrop chords, undermined by that incessant prefab drum loop on the chorus. But when I imagine the track without, it sags, so clearly something is needed there. Just not this.

Alex Clifton: Simple, stirring, and a slap to the face against toxic masculinity. Thanks, mate.

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