It seemed like the perfect combination of talent, producer, and guest star and yet radio seemed lukewarm to a guy who is no stranger to the top of the Billboard Charts.
When Usher announced the release of his new single, She Came To Give It To You, back in July of 2014, it seemed like he might have another smash hit on his hands. Under the production of Pharrell Williams (the guy who helped shape a previous hit, U Don't Have To Call), it seemed the collaboration between two individuals who appeared as coaches on the hit NBC reality show, The Voice, might end up with the kind of airplay bump that inexplicably drove Jennifer Lopez to the top of the charts with her absurdly redundant On The Floor (seriously, count the number of times she utters the phrase "on the floor" in the song) after it was hyped endlessly on American Idol.
That doesn't even mention the contribution from one Nicki Minaj who was in the midst of making her own chart history on Billboard.
And still... nothing.
The song peaked at number 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and currently sits at just over 4 million views on YouTube, hardly a strong performance for any of the three acts associated with it.
Perhaps not helping matters was the by the numbers music video.
If you're casually paying attention to the video, you may notice that the flashes of white light in the video give way to the featured extras and back up dancers embodying death for some strange reason. Occasionally, Usher defies gravity for funzies as well. Also, he's kinda performing at a club while taking occasional dance breaks on the floor. The choreography is fair, but pretty run-of-the-mill for the standards Usher normally sets (granted, he can still move).
The reason I bring up this particular song is that it didn't quite mark the death of Usher's run on the charts. There are a number of cases in pop music when an artist or band will inexplicably find themselves unable to connect to the modern trends in music, no matter how good their single may or may not be. Radio just kinda decides, "hey, it's been fun, but we're going to see other people."
No, for Usher, he was still able to find success with his next major single I Don't Mind (his hip-hop ballad dedicated to strippers everywhere) made it all the way up to number 11 on the Hot 100. The curious case of She Came To Give It To You marked the first time the singer failed to chart a lead single in the Top 40 since his 1993 debut.
That's just odd for one of the handful of artists go have a diamond record in their catalogue.
It also marked the first time Usher had to license his song to breathe some life back into it. And that partnership was with... the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee?
Yeah, it's weird.
Nonetheless, I've always had an appreciation for the smooth baseline and the beat. I also appreciate the way that Usher has grown into an elder-statesman of R&B and gave the kind of record that took a risk. This feels like something that could easily be slid into a 70s playlist alongside many of the heroes Usher grew up idolizing.
Truly a shame it never got the recognition it deserves, but on Flashback Friday here, we're busting it out again for your enjoyment.