Review: Usher’s ‘Climax’

Usher and Diplo

In December of 2010, singer Usher chatted with StyleList to promote his new fragrance. While doing so, he teased his upcoming seventh studio album. “I’m working on a new genre of music,” he said. “Revolutionary pop – which combines several music genres to create a new sound experience.” Hmmm.

Over the past few years, songs like Yeah, OMG, DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love, and the recent David Guetta collaboration, Without You, have transformed the 33-year-old R&B artist into a dance machine that churns out club banger after club banger. In fact, hardly a Jersey Shore episode goes by without some Usher-inspired fist pumping. So is this the “revolutionary pop” in question?

Hardly. Premiering a few weeks early of its official release date (February 28), Usher’s new single Climax hit the web on Valentine’s Day last week. Finally, fans got a taste of the singer’s new sound. And if Climax truly is indicative of the musical direction of his upcoming album, be prepared for another year of boundary pushing Usher chart-toppers.

Taking to Twitter to describe Climax as “some next level electrosoul,” the song’s producer Diplo (M.I.A., Robyn) also wrote that the track was “seriously the best record I’ve been part of. Really proud of it.” And he may just be right.

Vocally, Climax is a return to form for Usher. His silky smooth voice transcends into a sensual falsetto as he sings despairingly about the end of a relationship. Guided by the gradual drip of the song’s trance-laced beat, Usher’s voice tantalizes the listener with the tender attentiveness of his high register and the desperate passion of his low one.

“I just need you one more time. I can’t get the one we had on my mind. Where are you now when I need you around? I’m on my knees but it seems we’re going nowhere fast, we’ve reached our climax,” he croons over the slow pulse of synthesizers and a grinding downbeat.

The double entendre found in the lyrics (which in case you haven’t figured out by now is about both the finishing points in relationships and in the bedroom) is masterfully complimented by the thrusting of Diplo’s crescendoing beat and Usher’s octave-scaling vocals.

As the song progresses, its ultimate climax is teased more and more. But Usher and Diplo smartly take their time to get there, aware that the ultimate payoff will be far more rewarding. Toss in additional orchestration by classical musician Nico Muhly (Björk, Antony & The Johnsons) on strings, and you’ll be clutching your pearls listening to the sexiest song of the year so far.

Climax pushes Usher into the forefront of some of the most interesting and seductive music this side of top forty. “I’m pretty sure in nine months there are gonna be a lot of new babies that this is responsible for,” Diplo tweeted.

So light some candles, pour yourself a big glass of red, get out those “massage oils” and treat yourself to Climax.

Alex Nagorski About Alex Nagorski

Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. After growing up in Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin, Alex now resides in New York City. A freelance arts blogger, he also works in Program Advertising at HBO. To read more from Alex, check out his blog, Headphone Infatuation, and follow him on Twitter @AlexNagorski.

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