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Usher Looks Back Five Years After "Confessions"

April 2, 2009 12:25 PM ET

It's hard to believe that it's already been five years since the siren sounds of Usher's "Yeah!" was serenading every dance floor in America, but the calendar doesn't lie. March 23rd officially marked the fifth anniversary of Usher's Confessions, and the R&B singer wrote into MTV News to reminisce about his landmark LP with five confessions about Confessions.

The biggest revelation in Usher's e-mail is the postscript: "Not many people know that Stevie Wonder played keys on Confessions." After some digging, and a little help from the All Music Guide, Rock Daily figured out that while Wonder isn't listed among the personnel on the original Confessions album, he is named on the version that contains four extra bonus tracks including the "My Boo" duet with Alicia Keys. However, Wonder is credited with contributing harmonica and not "keys," so color us confused. Maybe Usher's memory has dulled a bit five years later.

Usher also tells MTV that "Yeah!," arguably the album's biggest hit, nearly didn't even make the final track list. "Lil Jon produced 'Yeah!' and once we finished the record we did a little research on the record only to find out that 'Freek-A-Leek' by Petey Pablo had the same beat," Usher writes. "At times I wonder if it would have made a difference if the beat was never changed. Nobody knew it was going to be that huge of a record." Confessions itself was a huge hit, selling 10 million copies in the States and spending nine weeks atop the U.S. charts, a feat unsurpassed this millennium until Taylor Swift's Fearless reigned for 11 weeks.

Usher wraps up his letter by hinting that another album is on the way: "The anniversary comes just in time for the new album. I got a new story to tell. A new dawn, a new day, and I'm feeling good. Be ready!"

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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