Burn (Usher song)
|Single by Usher|
|from the album Confessions|
|Released||July 6, 2004|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Writer(s)||Usher Raymond, Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox|
|Producer(s)||Jermaine Dupri, Bryan Michael Cox|
|Usher singles chronology|
"Burn" is a song by American R&B singer Usher, which he wrote with American songwriters Jermaine Dupri, 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!". "Burn" was released as the second single from the album on July 6, 2004.
"Burn" topped various charts around the world, including the Billboard Hot 100 for eight non-consecutive weeks; it succeeded "Yeah!" at number one. Both singles gave Usher nineteen consecutive weeks at the top spot, longer than any solo artist of the Hot 100 era. "Burn" was certified platinum in Australia and United States, and gold in New Zealand. The song was well received by critics and garnered award nominations. In 2009 it was named the 21st most successful song of the 2000s, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade. This song won the 2005 Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Song.
When Usher planned to make a new record after his third album, 8701 (2001), he decided to not branch out that much with musical collaborators and continue building music with his previous producers. 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 (2004). 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. They said, "Yo, you gotta let that burn ... That's a song right there", and started writing.
Usher submitted the album to his label Arista Records after 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 Jon who 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 Ludacris and 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 an R&B record. Until "Yeah!" was leaked, "Burn" was chosen as the official first single from Confessions. "Yeah!", which was 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 single and 7" single.
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. In early 2004, Usher broke up with Chilli due to "irreconcilable differences and because they found it almost impossible to make compromises." 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 breakup. It was later revealed that chilli, in fact broke up with usher because of cheating and the media said otherwise because of the lyrics in the song, which was not based on their relationship. 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.
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"Burn" is a slow jam, combining R&B and ballad genres. The song is performed with a moderate groove. It is composed in the key of C-sharp major. The melody line of the song has influences from "Ignition (Remix)" by R. Kelly and "How to Deal" 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.
"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". 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." 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 Allmusic considered "Burn" as one of the Usher's best moments in the album, together with "Caught Up", the final single from Confessions. Steve Jones of USA Today stated that Usher is singing about a relationship that cannot be saved because of the "flame has simply died".
"Burn" was nominated at the 47th Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. The song earned British record company EMI the "Publisher of the Year" at the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers 2005 Pop Music Awards.
"Burn" was another commercial success for Usher. In the United States, the single debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number sixty-five, months prior to its physical release. It reached the top spot on May 29, 2004, replacing "Yeah!"'s twelve-week run at number one. The single was beaten by Fantasia's 2004 single "I Believe", which propelled on the chart on its debut. It returned to number one for one last week, before it was finally knocked off by the album's third single "Confessions Part II". The single failed to remain on the top spot as long as "Yeah!" did, 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. The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipping 1,000,000 units. It became the second best-selling single in the United States, behind Usher's single "Yeah!". Like "Yeah!", "Burn" helped Confessions remain on the top spot.
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 Netherlands, and 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 Association for selling 70,000 units. At the 2004 year ender charts, "Burn" became the thirty-first best-selling single in Australia. 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.
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 Clark. 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." On June 26, 2008, AfterEllen.com writer Sarah Warn revealed 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!"
Synopsis and reception
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 were having an intimate moment in the same bed. The bedsheets burns, following to Usher riding a silver Aston Martin DB5 with a British registration (EGF 158B). 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. Also, right before the last chorus, the screen changes from a small screen, to a full one with no framework.
The music video debuted on MTV's Total Request Live at number six on May 4, 2004, the same debut with "Confessions Part II". The video reached the top spot and remained on the countdown for thirty-three days. "Burn" topped MuchMusic's Countdown on July 24, 2004, and remained on the chart for fifteen weeks.
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 Carey and 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 a 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."
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||7,500*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- List of number-one singles from the 2000s (New Zealand)
- List of number-one singles from the 2000s (UK)
- List of Hot 100 number-one singles of 2004 (U.S.)
- List of number-one R&B singles of 2004 (U.S.)
- List of Billboard Rhythmic number-one songs of the 2000s
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