Burn (Usher song)
Name = Burn
Artist = Usher
from Album = Confessions
Released = July 6, 2004 (United States)
Recorded = 2003
Genre = R&B, ballad
Length = 4:15
Label = Arista,
Writer = Usher Raymond,
Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox
Producer = Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox
Certification = Platinum (ARIA)
Gold (RIAA, RIANZ)
Last single = "Yeah!"
This single = "Burn"
Next single = "
Confessions Part II"
"Burn" is an R&B-ballad song written by American singers-rappers and songwriters Usher,
Jermaine Dupriand Bryan-Michael Cox. The song was produced by Dupri and Cox for Usher's fourth studio album "Confessions" (2004). "Burn" is about breakup in a relationship, and the public referred to it as an allusion to Usher's personal struggles.
Originally planned as the album's
lead single, "Burn" was pushed back after favorable responses for the song "Yeah!". The song was released as the second single from the album in July 2004. The single topped various charts around the world, including the "Billboard" Hot 100 for eight non-consecutive weeks. "Burn" was certified platinum in Australia and gold in New Zealand and United States. The song was well-received by critics and garnered award nominations.
Background and writing
When Usher planned to make a new record after his third album, "8701", he decided to not branch out that much with musical collaborators and continue building music with his previous producers.Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Road To The Grammys: The Making Of Usher's Confessions |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1496656/20050207/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |publisher=MTV Networks |date=February 7, 2005 |accessdate=2008-02-29] Usher again enlisted record-producer
Jermaine Dupri, who had collaborated on his two previous albums, along with The Neptunes, R. Kelly, among others to work on his fourth studio album "Confessions". Dupri contacted his frequent collaborator Bryan-Michael Cox, who had also made hits like the 2001 single " U Got It Bad" for Usher. During the early session for the album, Dupri and Cox talked about a situation which later became "Burn". At that time, Usher's two-year relationship with TLC's Chilli was flaming out.Cite news |last=Vineyard |first=Jennifer |title=In Book Proposal, Dupri Calls Em A Hater, Says Usher's Confessions Are Really His |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1521586/20060125/dupri_jermaine.jhtml |work=MTV News |publisher=MTV Networks |date=January 25, 2006 |accessdate=2008-03-03] They said, "Yo, you gotta let that burn ... That's a song right there", and started writing.
Composition and theme
"Burn" is a slow jam,Cite web |last=Caramanica |first=Jon |title=Usher: Confessions |url=http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=1993 |work=Blender |publisher=Alpha Media Group Inc. |accessdate=2008-03-01] combining R&B and ballad genres. The song is performed with a moderate groove. It is composed in the key of
B minor. [Cite web |title=Usher Digital Sheet Music: Burn |url=http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/scorch.asp?ppn=SC0008474 |work=Musicnotes |accessdate=2008-02-29] The melodyline of the song has influences from "Ignition (Remix)" by R.Kelly and " Don't Wanna Try" by Frankie J. "Burn" has a combination of robotic noises, synthesized strings and guitar lines.
The lyrics are constructed in the traditional
verse-chorus form. The song starts a spoken intro, giving way to the first verse. It continues to the chorus, following the second verse and chorus. The bridge follows, leading to a break and finalizing in the chorus.
"Burn" was considered a "window to Usher's inner thoughts", along with the controversial track "Confessions" and "
Confessions Part II". The song is about breakups and ending relationships. According to Matt Cibula of Popmatters, "Burn" is constructed from "two-step concept". In the lyrics "You know that it's over / You know that it was through / Let it burn / Got to let it burn", Usher breaks up with his woman but found her sad about feeling bad about what happened to their relationship. However, Usher says that she must deal with it before she can accept the truth. For the lines "It's been fifty-eleven days / Umpteen hours / I'm gonna be burnin' / Till you return", the direction changes after Usher realized that breaking up with her was a huge mistake and that he wanted her back to him.Cite web |last=Cibula |first=Matt |title=Usher: By the Numbers! |url=http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/u/usher-confessions.shtml |work=Popmatters |date=April 6, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29]
Usher submitted the album to his label
Arista Recordsafter he felt it was already completed. After he and the company's then-president Antonio "LA" Reid listened to the songs, they felt the album needed a first single and that they needed one or two more songs to create, which caused the postponement of the album's release. Usher went back to the studio and collaborated with Lil Jonwho said, "He needed a single. They had 'Burn,' 'Burn' was hot, but they needed that first powerful monster. That's when I came in." They worked for few more tracks, including "Red Light", which was not included in the first release of the album, and "Yeah!", which features Ludacrisand Lil Jon.
However, everybody in the label was scared to decide what to consider as the lead single. Reid was choosing whether "Yeah!" would be released then, considering that they had "Burn". Usher was also doubtful if the former was the right choice, after he wanted for R&B record. Until "Yeah!" was leaked, "Burn" was chosen as the official first single from "Confessions". [Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Usher To Share His Confessions In March |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1483836/20031219/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=February 7, 2005 |accessdate=2008-02-29] "Yeah!", which was also intended as a promotional song and a teaser for Usher's fans, was released to street DJs and
mixtapes. However, the song's favorable responses led to another direction; "Yeah!" was pursued to be the lead single and "Burn" was set as its follow-up. "Burn" was released in the United States on July 6, 2004 as a CD singleand 7" single. [Cite web |title=Burn [CD #1] |url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/discography/more.jsp?tp=singles&pid=36758&aid=640238 |work=Billboard |publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc |accessdate=2008-02-29]
Usher decided about the new material "to let it all hang out by singing about some of his own little secrets, as well as a few bones from his homies' skeleton-filled closets." The public speculated that the material in the new album he was referring to was his recent personal struggles in which he promised a "real talk" on it.Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Usher: King Me – Part 3 |url=http://www.mtv.com/bands/u/usher/news_feature_052404/index3.jhtml |work=MTV News |accessdate=2008-02-29] [Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Usher Works With R. Kelly, Neptunes To Deliver Real Talk On New LP |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1474674/20030723/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=July 24, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] In early 2004, Usher broke up with Chilli due to "irreconcilable differences and because they found it almost impossible to make compromises."Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=The Road To Confessions: How Usher 'Shook A Million' |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1486094/20040331/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=March 31, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] Usher said in an interview: "It's unfortunate when you have to let a situation go because it's not working", which added reference to the break up.Cite news |title=Usher Lets Skeletons Out Of The Closet On Confessions |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1485074/20040217/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=February 17, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] Dupri, however, confessed that his personal life is the real story of the album. Usher said he took inspirations collectively by looking at his friends' personal situations that they gone through. [Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Usher Says He's Not A Baby's Daddy |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1485933/20040323/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=March 23, 2004 |accessdate=2008-03-03]
Critical reviews and awards
"Burn" was lauded by contemporary music critics. Jem Aswad of "
Entertainment Weekly" complimented Dupri and Cox for producing what he called the "best song" from the album, along with " Confessions Part II" which they also produced. Aswad found the songs feature "mellifluous melodies". [Cite web |last=Aswad |first=Jem |title=Confessions (2004): Usher |url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,602386,00.html |work=Entertainment Weekly |publisher=Entertainment Weekly and Time Inc. |date=March 26, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] Laura Sinagra of " Rolling Stone" found Usher's singing a "sweet falsetto on the weepy breakup song ", adding, it "convincingly marries resolve and regret, but when it comes to rough stuff, there's still no 'u' in p-i-m-p." [Cite web |last=Sinagra |first=Laura |title=Usher: Confessions |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/usher/albums/album/5165180/review/5944284/confessions |publisher=Rolling Stone |accessdate=2008-02-29] Cibula called the song brilliant and considers its step one and step two technique a hit. Jon Caramanica of " Blender" complimented the song for living up as the only "serviceable" among all ballad-influenced songs in the album which "often drown in their own inanity." Ande Kellman of Allmusicconsidered "Burn" as one of the Usher's best moments in the album, together with " Caught Up", the final single from "Confessions". [Cite web |last=Kellman |first=Andy |title=Confessions: Usher |url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:anfoxqlald6e |work=Allmusic |publisher=Macrovision Company |accessdate=2008-03-03] Steve Jones of " USA Today" stated that Usher is singing about a relationship that cannot be saved because of the "flame has simply died". [Cite web |last=Jones |first=Steve |title='Confessions' time: Usher continues his ascendancy |url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/reviews/2004-03-22-usher-confessions_x.htm |work=USA Today |publisher=Gannett Co. Inc |date=March 22, 2004 |accessdate=2008-03-03]
"Burn" was nominated at the
47th Grammy Awardsfor Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. [Cite news |last=Jeckell |first=Barry |title=Kanye West Leads Grammy Nominees |url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000732823 |work=Billboard |publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc |date=December 7, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] The song earned British record company EMIthe "Publisher of the Year" at the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers2005 Pop Music Awards. [Cite web |title=ASCAP Pop Music Awards 2005 |url=http://www.ascap.com/eventsawards/awards/popawards/2005/ |publisher=ASCAP |date=2005 |accessdate=2008-02-29]
"Burn" was another commercial success for Usher, but not on such a wide scale as "Yeah!". In the United States, the single debuted on the "Billboard" Hot 100 at number sixty-five, months prior to its physical release.Cite web |title="Burn" Global Chart Positions and Trajectories |url=http://acharts.us/song/412 |publisher=αCharts |accessdate=2008-02-28] It reached the top spot on May 29, 2004, replacing "Yeah!"'s twelve-week run at number one. [Cite web |title=Billboard Hot 100 |url=http://acharts.us/billboard_hot_100/2004/21 |publisher=αCharts |date=May 29, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] The single was beaten by Fantasia's 2004 single "
I Believe", which propelled on the chart on its debut. [Cite web |title=Billboard Hot 100 |url=http://acharts.us/billboard_hot_100/2004/28 |publisher=αCharts |date=July 17, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] It returned to number one for one last week, before it was finally knocked off by the album's third single " Confessions Part II". [Cite web |title=Billboard Hot 100 |url=http://acharts.us/billboard_hot_100/2004/30 |publisher=αCharts |date=July 31, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29] The single failed to remain on the top spot as "Yeah!" achieved, staying only for eight non-consecutive weeks. "Burn" was the fifth most-played song in 2004 for earning 355,228 total plays, alongside "Yeah!" which topped the tally for 496,805 spins. [Cite news |last=Vineyard |first=Jennifer |title= Usher's 'Yeah!' Was Most Played Song Of 2004 |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1495342/20050105/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=January 5, 2005 |accessdate=2008-03-01] The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of Americafor selling 500,000 units. [Cite web |title=Gold and Platinum |url=http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?resultpage=2&table=SEARCH_RESULTS&action=&title=&artist=usher&format=&debutLP=&category=&sex=&releaseDate=&requestNo=&type=&level=&label=&company=&certificationDate=&awardDescription=&catalogNo=&aSex=&rec_id=&charField=&gold=&platinum=&multiPlat=&level2=&certDate=&album=&id=&after=&before=&startMonth=1&endMonth=1&startYear=1958&endYear=2008&sort=Artist&perPage=25 |publisher=RIAA |accessdate=2008-03-02] It became the second best-selling single in the United States, behind Usher's single "Yeah!". [Cite web |title=The Billboard Hot 100: 2004 |url=http://billboard.com/bbcom/charts/yearend_chart_display.jsp?f=The+Billboard+Hot+100&g=Year-end+Singles&year=2004 |work=Billboard |publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc |accessdate=2008-03-02] Like "Yeah!", "Burn" helped "Confessions" remain on the top spot position. [Cite news |last=D'Angelo |first=Joe |title='Burn' Keeps Usher Hot — And On Top |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1487119/20040519/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=May 19, 2004 |accessdate=2008-03-03]
Internationally, several music markets responded equally well. In the United Kingdom, the single debuted at number one and stayed for two weeks. Across European countries, the single performed well, reaching the top ten in
Denmark, Ireland, Norway, The Netherlandsand Switzerland. It entered the top twenty in Austria, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. In Australia, the single debuted at number three and peaked at number two. The single was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Associationfor selling 70,000 units. [Cite web |title=ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2004 Singles |url=http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-accreditations-singles-2004.htm |work=Australian Recording Industry Association |accessdate=2008-02-29] At the 2004 Year Ender charts, "Burn" became the thirty-first best-selling single in Australia. [Cite web |title=ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2004 |url=http://www.aria.com.au/pages/aria-charts-end-of-year-charts-top-100-singles-2004.htm |work=Australian Recording Industry Association |accessdate=2008-03-02] In the New Zealand, it peaked at number one for three weeks, and remained on the chart for twenty-three weeks. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. On the United World Chart 2004 Year Ender, "Burn" was the eighteenth best-selling single for accumulating 3,555,000 points. [Cite web |title=United World Chart: Tracks - Countdown 2004 |url=http://www.mediatraffic.de/tracks-2004.htm |work=United World Chart |publisher=Media Traffic |accessdate=2008-03-03]
The music video for "Burn" was directed by
Jake Nava, who had produced a wide array of videos for Atomic Kitten, Beyoncé Knowles, among others. It was shot at the former Hollywood house of American popular singer Frank Sinatra. The video features model Jessica Clarke. [Cite news |title=USHER - USHER FALLS FOR MODEL GIRLFRIEND |url=http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/usher%20falls%20for%20model%20girlfriend |work=Contactmusic |date=April 30, 2004 |accessdate=2008-02-29]
The video starts with Usher sitting on a sofa with a backdrop of his girlfriend. When the verse starts, Usher went to a wide glass window pane, looking at his girlfriend swimming in the pool. The surface aflame after she immersed in the water. The next scene continues to Usher with his mistress having sex. While sitting on the edge of the bed, Usher reminisces the moments he and his girlfriend having intimate moment in the same bed. The bedsheets burns, following to Usher riding a silver car. The video cuts with the backdrop also burning. Continuing to the car scene, Usher stops as he sees his imaginary girl again. He went out and dances, executing various hand routines. Video intercuts follow and the video ends with Usher standing with his back.
The music video debuted on
MTV's " Total Request Live" at number six on May 4, 2004, the same debut with "Confessions Part II".Cite web |title=TRL Debuts |url=http://host17.hrwebservices.net/~atrl/trlarchive/db.html |publisher=Popfusion |accessdate=2008-02-29] The video reached the top spot and remained on the countdown for thirty-three days. [Cite web |title=TRL Number Ones |url=http://host17.hrwebservices.net/~atrl/trlarchive/no.html |publisher=Popfusion |accessdate=2008-02-29] "Burn" topped MuchMusic's "Countdown" on July 24, 2004, and remained on the chart for fifteen weeks.Cite web |title=Usher: Burn |url=http://top40-charts.com/songs/full.php?sid=9610&sort=chartid |publisher=Top40-chart.com |accessdate=2008-02-29]
In the July 2008 issue of "Vibe" magazine, Usher told writer Mitzi Miller, "Women have started to become lovers of each other as a result of not having enough men."Cite web |title=Caught Up : VIBE.com |url=http://www.vibe.com/news/cover_stories/2008/06/usher_july_cover_story/ |accessdate=2008-07-05] On June 26, 2008,
AfterEllen.comwriter Sarah Warnrevealed that Jessica Clark, the lead in Usher's "Burn" music video, was in fact an openly gay model. In the article, Warn writes, "Maybe it's not a lack of men that's turning women gay, Usher--maybe it's you!"Cite web |title=Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (June 27, 2008) |url=http://www.afterellen.com/blwe/06-27-08?page=0%2C2 |accessdate=2008-07-05]
Besides from Usher, Cox has benefited for co-creating "Confessions", as well as from the success of "Burn". He has been doing records for
Alicia Keys, B2K, Mariah Careyand Destiny's Child, but he felt 2004 introduced him to another landscape in the music industry. His contribution to the song has elevated him to fame, as well as people looking back to his past records. "Burn" earned him two Grammy nominations. Cox stated, "Everybody who does this for asic living dreams about being nominated. It's the ultimate accomplishment. I've always been the silent guy — I come in, do my job and head out. I like to leave all the glory and shine to others, but this is the validation that means the most to me. It also makes me want to work harder to get that same recognition again." [Cite news |last=Hall |first=Rashaun |title=Usher's Success Lifts Songwriter/Producer Bryan-Michael Cox |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1495827/20050112/usher.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=January 12, 2005 |accessdate=2008-03-03]
"Burn" was featured in the episode "
Tom, Sarah and Usher" of the Cartoon Networkseries "The Boondocks". In the episode, Tom does his own redition of a typical Usher music video.
The song is featured on the game
Karaoke Revolution Volume 3.
* [http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/usher/3263559/lyrics.jhtml "Burn" lyrics]
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