Growing up, I was the biggest fans of Usher and Jennifer Lopez. They were the hottest male and female in pop music for a while. They had catchy songs, interesting videos and of course the best choreography. They broke records and sold tons of albums. But somewhere along the way, things changed. Now, they’re older, their moves have become less innovative and their star power has dimmed a bit. It breaks my heart because there was a time that they were my idols.
In 2004, Usher was on top of the world. His fourth album Confessions debuted at number one, selling 1.1 million copies in the first week. Artists can’t do that anymore. Back then, I was convinced that he sold that many records because he was everywhere. I have performances taped of him on 106, TRL, Regis and Kelly, even the short lived Ryan Seacrest show. He danced that iconic ‘Yeah’ choreogprahy perfectly every time, and sang live. Confessions is a classic R&B album. We saw his tour in 2005, with Kanye West as an opening act and he killed it. He was the man.
I feel like I’ve grown up with Usher. Back in the day when he played Jeremy on Moesha, pulled down his pants in the ‘You Make Me Wanna’ video, dance battled Tyrese for the girl in the ‘My Way’ video, I’ve loved him. I watched Bold and the Beautiful when he was on, and that wasn’t even one of my favorite soaps. So I was happy he crossed over as a pop superstar in 2004. But then something happened. In 2008, he released ‘Love in The Club’ that was the jam. I still love that song. But to me something was missing. And it was the choreography. Usher has had the same dancers/choreographers from the beginning of his career. Which was why his chroeo was always consistantly good. But in 2008 for some reason, he switched to someone else. The album Here I Stand, was considered a flop compared to Confessions. Cut to today, Usher is set to release his sixth album Raymond Vs. Raymond at the end of the month. I’ll admit, I like the single ‘Hey Daddy’ but once again, the movement is lacking. Usher is known as a dance artist. He used to do things other artists couldn’t do (like the handstand in the U Remind Me video) and now his movement is small and simple. So uninspired. But the real nail in the coffin was his performance at the NBA All Star game last month. It was a joke. He was made fun of endlessly on Twitter. In the performance he lip synced, wore this strange vest and danced sloppy. My heart broke as a watched it. I wondered what happened to the artists who’s performances I’d look forward to and tape eagerly in order to learn the moves. Usher is 31 now. Definately not that old, but his career isn’t the same. It’s sad because I want the old Usher back. I think we all do.
On to Jennifer Lopez. Back in the day, I wanted to be her. The ‘If You Had My Love’ video blew my 13 year old mind. I remember desperately trying to learn that dance breakdown in the middle of the video. JLO did everything. She starred in movies, she could sing and most importantly she could dance her ass off. Every video was another challenge for me. I loved her the most in the Puffy days. I loved those two together. She was so hip hop back then, singing songs with Ja Rule and LL Cool J. I didn’t care if she didn’t sing live. She was a Latina girl doing her thing. I looked up to her because of her journey. She started as a fly girl, then started doing movies and then moved on to music. She was a true triple threat. After she dumped Puffy and started becoming a tabliod mainstay, the music and dancing were still great. JLO has never dissapointed when it came to dance. That is until now. This year she was set to make her music comback. She performed her new single ‘Louboutins’ on the AMA’s. SYTYCD chroreogrpahers Napoleon and Tabitha choreographed the performance – and she fell. I blame them. The performance was panned, the song didn’t do well. A few weeks ago it was annonuced she was dropped from her label Sony music. Her new album won’t come out. They didn’t feel like there was a market for her anymore. It seems like that may be the end of her music career and it makes me sad. She’ll always have a career in movies, but I will miss the JLO that danced so hard.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m mourning these two artists for what they were in their prime. They both inspired me and I enjoyed watching them. I guess part of growing up is seeing artists that I loved, stumble a bit.