"Without You" is a song by French DJDavid Guetta, featuring vocals from American recording artist Usher. It was released as the third single from Guetta's fifth studio album, Nothing but the Beat on September 27, 2011. It was written by Usher, Taio Cruz, Rico Love, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort and Frédéric Riesterer while being produced by Guetta, Tuinfort, Riesterer and Black Raw. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Guetta's third top ten single, following "Club Can't Handle Me" and "Sexy Bitch", as well as his highest peaking in the US to date. As of November 2013, the song has sold 2,684,000 copies in the US.
The electro-ballad features the anguished vocals of R&B singer Usher. Guetta told Billboard magazine it's "maybe the biggest song I've made in my life." He added: "We were in bargaining sessions for a while. Usher was saying, 'I need this record for my album.' I said, 'I'm sorry, I cannot give it to you.' After a while he called me back and gave in." Guetta told MTV News why he chose Usher to guest on this song. "It's just totally emotional," he said. "Some of the record is a proper ballad, and then it goes to that crazy dance beat. It's perfect for him, because he's famous for his ballads. And he's also now famous for those big club records that he comes with. He's an amazing dancer, so I felt like he was the artist that I needed." Usher told MTV News that this ode to not giving up on love in the face of adversity resonated with him personally. "I think the world wanted a record like that. That [song] really spoke to the journey that I've actually been on in the last three years," he said. "Traveling all around the world, music sounds different. There's many different genres, and when you see R&B and pop and house, as well as electronic, come together, that's the reality of what music is."
"Without You" was written by Usher Raymond, Rico Love, Taio Cruz, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort and Frédéric Riesterer, and produced by Guetta, Tuinfort and Riesterer. The song kicks off with Usher building into a slowly surging dance track, which Bill Lamb praised calling it "exciting". Lyrically, it is a song about lamenting a heavy kundy: Life without someone who means the world to you. Amy Sciarretto of Pop Crush wrote that the chorus "invite lots of dancing, but this isn't much of clubby rager. Structurally, the song reminds us of Madonna's 'Ray of Light'; that's not to suggest that 'Without You' sounds like 'Ray of Light', but it shares the same formula and airy energy."
The song is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 128 beats per minute. It contains pop and dance influences. Usher vocals range from E3 to A5. The song is in the key of D-major with a chord progression of D-G-Bm-G and the hook of repeated chords of D-G and complete with A. The ending is set in 6-8 time with a piano melody similar to Coldplay's Clocks.
"Without You kicks off with Usher building into a slowly surging dance track. It is exciting, but then when the song slips back to spare balladry it seems to lose most of the momentum that had been gained. Lyrically "Without You" is not strong enough either to carry us anywhere in particular. It is basically a repetition of the concept that life is no fun without a particular person. David Guetta states in his comments that it is a very emotional song, but that does not come through in the arrangement. Instead "Without You" feels like a commercial song created by committee. Part of that committee in the songwriting is hitmaker Taio Cruz."
—Bill Lamb of "About.com" in his review of the single "Without You".
American recording artist Usher is featured on "Without You".
The song received mixed reviews from most music critics. Bill Lamb of About.com rated it three stars (out of possible five), commending "Usher's beautiful vocals" and the "exciting introduction", but perceiving that "the song never reaches a satisfying climax". Lamb also noted that "the shifting back and forth between sparse ballad and uptempo dance means "Without You" never quite has a true climax. The result is all pop anticipation without the payoff. In a more favorable review, Amy Sciarretto of Pop Crush wrote that the song is "a light, hands-in-the-air and somewhat ethereal song" and that "the heft of the words juxtaposed against the feathery music works and allows the song to remain bouyant [sic] and well, not a downer despite its unhappy musings."
The music video was filmed towards the end of July 2011 on a beach located in Portugal. The full music video for "Without You" was released on 14 October 2011. The video shows cuts of different parties in Thailand, the United States, Brazil and South Africa, among other places. Continental drift starts to take place and all the parties on the different continents amalgamate to form one big party. It also has scenes with Usher in front of a Rio de Janeiro beach background.