And he still hasn't. But the entertaining "Looking 4 Myself" is his best attempt at making magical music following "Here I Stand" and "Raymond v. Raymond," lackluster albums saved by a few sterling songs.
Usher's 14-track set is a multi-genre affair: There are mid-tempo grooves like "Show Me," as well as bedroom R&B ("Dive"), rhythmic hip-hop ("Lemme See"), upbeat pop ("Twist") and electro-dance numbers ("Scream," "Numb," "Euphoria").
But the be-all-things-to-all-people approach doesn't always work: "Scream," the current single produced by Max Martin, is like everything else on top 40 radio. Like many of Chris Brown's Euro-flavored jams, this one could easily be performed by another act. It's flavorless and generic words normally not used to describe Usher's music.
Usher sounds better on "Numb" and "Euphoria," both written and produced by Swedish Mafia House and Klas Ahlund, the main producer behind Swedish dance singer Robyn. Still, those songs don't come close to "Yeah!" or even "Without You" with David Guetta.
The producers on the album range from Pharrell to will.iam, though Jermaine Durpri, the mastermind behind much of "8701" and "Confessions," is missing (clearly a reunion is needed, stat).
Still, overall, "Looking" is a hit: The title track, which features Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun, is amazing, Rick Ross adds to the greatness of "Lemme See" and "Lessons for the Lover" is Usher doing R&B like it should be done.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "I.F.U." a bonus track that stands for "I'm freaking you" has a dope beat, Usher's falsetto and hand claps that mirror Rihanna's "Birthday Cake."
Usher, "Looking 4 Myself" (RCA).