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Yeah! (Usher song)

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Single by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris
from the album Confessions
  • "Red Light"
  • "Sweet Lies"
ReleasedJanuary 27, 2004 (2004-01-27)
Recorded2003 (2003)
Producer(s)Lil Jon
Usher singles chronology
"Can U Help Me"
Lil Jon singles chronology
"Salt Shaker"
"What U Gon' Do"
Ludacris singles chronology
"Blow It Out"
"Lovers and Friends"
Alternative cover

"Yeah!" is a song by American singer Usher. The song is co-written by Sean Garrett, Patrick J. Que Smith, Robert McDowell, LRoc, Ludacris, and Lil Jon, with the latter two as the featured artists for the song, and with Lil Jon also producing the song as well as incorporating crunk and R&B—which he coined as crunk&B—in the song's production. The song was released as the lead single from Usher's fourth studio album Confessions (2004) on January 27, 2004, after Usher was told by Arista Records, his label at the time, to record more tracks for the album.

"Yeah!" topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for 12 consecutive weeks, before being dethroned by Usher's follow-up single "Burn". "Yeah!" was the longest-running number one single in 2004,[1] subsequently topping the year-end chart on the Hot 100.[2] It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song received a similar response in other countries, topping in other twelve charts worldwide. It was certified platinum in several countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Norway, and received a two-times platinum certification in New Zealand. The song peaked in the top 10 in several year-end charts.

An accompanying music video, directed by Mr. X, shows Usher, Ludacris and Lil Jon performing choreography in a club in front of blue laser beams. "Yeah!" won a Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 47th Grammy Awards, while being nominated for Record of the Year. The song ranked second on the Billboard Hot 100 2000–2009 Decade-end chart. As of September 2013, the song has sold over 4 million copies in the US.

Background and release[edit]

In the fall of 2003, Usher submitted his fourth studio album, Confessions (2004), to his record label Arista Records. However, when the singer and the company's then-president L.A. Reid listened to the songs, Reid felt the album lacked a song that had the potential to be released as the album's lead single. In light of this, Usher was told to record a few more tracks, and so he enlisted American rapper-producer Lil Jon to aid in musical production.[3] Lil Jon recalled, "He [Usher] needed a single. They had 'Burn', 'Burn' was hot, but they needed that first powerful monster. That's when I came in."[4]

Several months prior to Lil Jon's involvement in the production of Confessions, he was commissioned by Jive Records to produce fifteen tracks for rapper Mystikal. The rapper would only select two tracks, which provided Lil Jon the opportunity to give leftover songs to other record labels. Without Lil Jon's knowledge, Jive Records gave one of the leftover tracks to hip hop artist Petey Pablo which would eventually become "Freak-a-Leek". However, Lil Jon, assuming that the song had not been used, gave the production to Usher, resulting in a rough version of "Yeah!". Eventually realizing the mistake after Pablo played "Freek-a-leek" to Lil Jon, the latter insisted on producing more tracks for Pablo; however, Pablo did not give up the song, due to the fact that it was already recorded and had been getting responses from Southern radio. Lil Jon commented, "With so much invested, Jive wouldn't give up the cut."[5] Lil Jon jumped back in the studio and created an equally catchy replacement track.[4] Though "Yeah!" was now completed, the label still had "Burn" on queue for the lead single. Usher's friend and former A&R rep Kawan "KP" Prather commented: "'Burn' being a great song is one thing, but it's one of them things where people said, 'It's strong, but can we make history with that?' At the end of the day, you want an event." Usher was still unsure if "Yeah!" was the right choice.[6]

Lil Jon, who is also a DJ, then decided to leak the record to DJs across the country after the record companies shut down for Christmas break. By the time they got back to business in January, the record already had thousands of radio plays with no label involvement. Usher still opted to go with "Burn" as the lead single as a music video was already planned,[7] however, the responses to "Yeah!" were overwhelmingly favorable,[6] and "Yeah!" was released as the first single with "Burn" becoming the second single from the album. The single was released in the United States on January 27, 2004 as a CD single and 12" single.[8] LaFace Records sent "Yeah!" to US contemporary hit radio on February 7, 2004.[9] In the United Kingdom, it was released as a CD single, containing the album and instrumental version of the song, and two additional tracks from the album, "Red Light" (also produced by Lil Jon) and "Sweet Lies".[10][11]

Composition and reception[edit]

"Yeah!" combines the genres of crunk and R&B genres, to form Crunk&B, which Lil Jon described as "R&B songs that get you crunk, make you wanna wild out".[12] Entertainment Weekly's Jem Aswad found the song to contain crunk and transition between hip hop, soul and ballad genres.[13] The song was co-written by Sean Garrett, Patrick J. Que Smith, Ludacris, Robert McDowell, and James Elbert "LRoc" Phillips. According to the sheet music published at by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Yeah!" is written in common time with a moderately slow tempo of 105 beats per minute, It is written in the key of G minor. Usher's vocal range spans from the low note of B3 to the high note of B4.[14]

"Yeah!" was an uncomplicated song about flirting with girls in a night club; it left plenty of air-conditioned space for Usher to coo and for the producer Lil Jon to bark the interjections [...] The lyrics were delivered like flashes of light: brief, anxious, and exciting, and perfectly suited to a voice that is long on control and short on texture.

Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker on its success.[15]

"Yeah!" was lauded by contemporary critics for its production. Jem Aswad of Entertainment Weekly called it "irresistibly crunked-out", adding, "the ensuing track glides smoothly between club-friendly hip-hop soul and ballads."[13] Laura Sinagra of Rolling Stone commented that the song "creates sensual panic by combining Usher's jumpy attacks with Jon's sublime, frayed beats."[16] Jon Caramanica of Blender noted that "Yeah!" is the first song to mix "mainstream R&B and menacing Southern crunk."[17] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine said that the song has brought Usher to a "whole new level of crunk."[18] Andy Kellman of Allmusic described the song as a "crunk-meets-R&B foundation" which features an "instantly addictive eight-note keyboard vamp".[19] He added that the song is "so absorbing that Ludacris' 1500th guest verse floats by with little notice."[19] Matt Cibula of PopMatters characterized the song as a "full-fledged club über-crunk salacious" but he added that it fails to be a "club banger".[20] Steve Jones of USA Today referred to "Yeah!" as a "club-rattling" song from a combination of "Atlanta's vibrant music scene", Lil Jon's "insistent beats" and Ludacris' "racy rhymes".[21] Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times described "Yeah!" as a "raucous tale of dance-floor seduction" which pop musician Michael Jackson would have produced in 2004, if he "still had the old Thriller magic".[22]

Usher himself also garnered praise for the song; Aswad called it the "grittiest song" Usher had sung and one that "reveals his newfound maturity".[13] Caramanica said that it is "probably the scariest record – in a good way – he's ever made" and Usher "smartly shares the spotlight."[17] Cibula stated that Usher's "smoove-ass" singing and Ludacris' presence contributes to the success of the single.[20] "Yeah!" was nominated at the 2005 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, and won the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration award.[23][24] At the 2005 Soul Train Music Awards, "Yeah!" was nominated for best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance Cut.[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Yeah!" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number fifty-three on January 13, 2004 prior to its official release two weeks later.[26] On March 2, the song peaked atop the chart and stayed at that position for twelve consecutive weeks.[27][28] "Yeah!" became Usher's fourth number-one single, Lil Jon's first and Ludacris' second. The single remained on the Hot 100 for forty-five weeks.[28] "Yeah!" became the most played song in the United States in 2004, with Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems reporting the song getting a total of 496,805 plays.[29] The commercial success of "Yeah!" and follow-up single "Burn" helped sustain Confessions atop the US Billboard 200 chart.[30] The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on June 11, 2006 for shipping one million copies since its release. "Yeah!" became the best-performing single of 2004 in the United States.[31] The single ranked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs,[32] and second on the Hot 100 decade-end chart, behind Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together".[33] By September 2013, the song had sold 4 million copies in the US.[34]

Internationally, "Yeah!" received a similar response, topping several charts. In Australia, the song topped the chart on the week of April 4, 2004 for one week. It remained on it for only seven weeks before dropping out, and was certified 5× platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for selling 350,000 units.[35] In New Zealand, "Yeah!" had a better chart performance, peaking at number one for four non-consecutive weeks. It remained on the chart for twenty-seven weeks before dropping and was certified two times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).[36] In Switzerland and Austria, "Yeah!" peaked at number one and remained on the charts for thirty-eight and thirty-six weeks, respectively, and was certified gold in both countries.[37][38] The song topped the charts in Denmark for three weeks, remaining on the chart for seventeen weeks.[39] In Netherlands, "Yeah!" remained number one for four weeks,[40] and in Norway for seven weeks.[41] The song remained number one in Ireland and United Kingdom for two weeks,[42] and number one for one week in France.[43][44] In the United Kingdom, by March 4, 2010, "Yeah!" had sold 434,739 copies.[45]

Compared to other countries, "Yeah!" under performed in Finland, where it stayed on the charts for four weeks and peaked at number seventeen,[46] and Spain where it peaked at number thirteen.[47] The song did not top the charts in Italy and Sweden where it peaked at number three and four,[48][49] respectively, and Belgium (Flanders) and Hungary where it charted at number two.[50][51] Overall, the single remained on several charts worldwide for one year, from early 2004 to 2005.[28][52] On the 2004 year-end charts, "Yeah!" became the twenty-eighth best-selling single in Australia,[53] and twenty-sixth in France.[54] It peaked in the top-ten on the year-end charts in Austria,[55] Belgium (Flanders),[56] Belgium (Wallonia),[57] Netherlands,[58] Ireland,[59] Switzerland[60] and the United Kingdom.[61]


Publication Accolade Rank
Time Magazine Best Songs of 2004[62] 1
MTV Most Played Song of 2004[63] 1
Pitchfork Top 50 Singles of 2004[64] 19
The 200 Best Songs of the 2000s[65] 175
Complex The 100 Best Songs of The Complex Decade[66] 45
Pop Sugar 30 of the Hottest Songs From the Early '00s[67] 5
VH1 100 Greatest Songs of The'00s[68] 27
Soul in Stereo 100 Best R&B Songs Of The 2000s[69] 32
Billboard The Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 Hits of the 2000s[70] 2

Music video[edit]


Mr. X, formerly Little X, had previously directed videos for Usher's singles "U Don't Have to Call" and "U Got It Bad". Mr. X said that the song reminded him of laser beams.[71] Usher and Mr. X combined ideas to create a dance video for "Yeah!". The development was handled by how Usher wanted to be portrayed in the video, particularly showcasing his dance moves. The music video was filmed in a vacant art gallery in Los Angeles over two days. When the shooting started, Mr. X recalled Michael Jackson's "low-tech" and "laser-flashing" 1979 "Rock with You" video, and used it as a reference.[71] Forty extra people were commissioned to dance with Usher, and two ladies to tempt him in different scenes. They went through photo browsing and phone calling, opting for Destiny Lightsy, a friend of Mr. X, who seduces Usher in the club in a Marilyn Monroe wardrobe to complement the lyrics.[71] Canadian model Melyssa Ford, who was discovered by Mr. X, is portrayed as Usher's second seductress.[71] Lil Jon acted as an assistant director during the sessions. Usher took charge of his ideas on his wardrobe and choreography, with additional routines, specifically the Rockaway and the Thunderclap, which Mr. X learned from Jamaica. The Rockaway influenced Fat Joe and Terror Squad's "Lean Back" video.[71]

Synopsis and reception[edit]

Canadian director Mr. X directed the video for "Yeah!"

The video begins with Usher entering a club, and in another scene dancing in front of blue lasers; the video alternates between both the club and laser scenes throughout. In the former setting, Usher is sat down when a woman—portrayed by Destiny, video producer Mr. X's friend—approaches him and attempts to seduce him. The woman stands up and walks to the dance-floor, telling Usher to "come get me" and "baby let's go", in sync with the song. Usher goes and dances with her during the chorus. In the beginning of the second verse, the laser scene with Usher dancing now shows both blue and green lasers. Usher and the woman are still dancing, with the woman further attempting to seduce him.

In the second chorus, Usher performs choreography in the club, backed up by several male dancers. Female dancers then come in, performing choreography along with Usher and the male dancers. After Lil Jon sprays champagne towards the camera in the laser scene, Ludacris performs his verse. He is dancing in both the club and laser scene, with the camera also alternating to female's dancing in sync in the club.

In the final chorus, Usher again performs choreography in the club, with another scene in the latter setting this time showing a different seductress, portrayed by model Melyssa Ford, walking away telling him to follow her. While following her, he is in a hallway, with the women then pulling Usher in a room, where they begin to romance. While Ludacris says his final verse, rapper Chingy and P. Diddy's former assistant, Fonzworth Bentley, both make appearances with Bentley holding a violin. Lil Jon says his final verse, not present in the track version of "Yeah!", where he repeats numerous dance moves including the Rockaway and Thunderclap, with Usher performing them. The video ends with Lil Jon repeating "rock away" and then "cut".[3]

At the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, Usher won his first 2 awards with Best Dance Video and Best Male Video.[72] At the 2005 Soul Train Music Awards, the video was nominated for the Michael Jackson Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video.[25]

Track listings[edit]



Certifications for Yeah!
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[105] 5× Platinum 350,000double-dagger
Austria (IFPI Austria)[106] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[107] Platinum 50,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[108] Platinum 10,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[109]
Digital Download
Gold 20,000*
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[110] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[111] 2× Platinum 600,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[112] Platinum 70,000double-dagger
Japan (RIAJ)[113] Gold 100,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[114] 2× Platinum 20,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[115] Platinum 10,000*
Sweden (GLF)[116] Gold 10,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[117] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[118] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[120] Platinum 4,670,159[119]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]