Admittedly, Usher missed a nomination in his first year of eligibility for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so he has not been snubbed to nearly the same degree as that of other artists, even within his own genre (remember how long it took to get Janet Jackson inducted?). That said, he is eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and has an excellent case. It is hard to overstate just how popular Usher was when it came to radio-friendly R&B music during the period between the late 1990’s and 2010. During that period of over a decade Usher was a legendary presence on the pop and R&B charts. Not only was his own career bright, but he managed to serve as a smooth singer to help other people get big hits, and his own songs as well have provided rich room for collaboration. While he is by no means as popular nowadays as he once was, his popularity at its peak and the lasting and massively influential songs he made during that time deserve to be remembered and appreciated, not least because it is always possible that we could get an Usher comeback with some more smooth and sensual R&B to race up the charts as has happened so often before.
The Influence Of Usher
Usher’s influence is a fairly obvious one. Coming into his own in the late 1990’s, his first hits demonstrated a template for radio-friendly black male masculinity combining excellent dance skills and smooth singing that are clearly the sort of approach being aimed at by more recent hitmakers of that vein like Chris Brown and Jason Derulo, even though Usher did it earlier and better. Even after he was no longer a young man trying to prove himself, he made a great deal of music that demonstrated the complexities of his own personal life as well as a sustained interest in making popular and sensual music to considerable popularity and general critical favor. Obviously this sort of music and career is not new, but it is one that Usher did with considerable skill, not only showing later musicians a profitable and worthwhile career approach to take but also collaborating with them in many cases and helping out their careers with some hits that they could claim as well. Usher’s willingness to help others has spread his influence far beyond where it would have gone from his own music alone, and likely has earned him some serious friends and backers within the music community.
Why Usher Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
It almost seems superfluous to make a case for Usher’s induction, but seeing as it is necessary, here goes. In addition to two albums that should be certified gold (his self-titled debut and 2012’s Looking 4 Myself), he managed to rack up five platinum albums (including 2008’s Here I Stand and 2010’s Raymond v. Raymond), two multi-platinum albums (1997’s 6x platinum My Way and 2001’s 4x platinum 8701) as well as one diamond album in the smash Confessions album. He has, so far, nine #1 hits on the Hot 100 (among the most all-time), including collaborations with Will.i.am and Alicia Keys, two other artists one is likely to be hearing about here in the future. He had several other #1 hits on the R&B charts as well as numerous top 10 hits as recently as 2012’s “Scream.” Not only does he have a huge amount of hits, but he has also worked successfully with a wide range of artists from Chris Brown and P. Diddy to Nicky Minaj, Young Thug, Juicy J, Justin Beiber, Lil’ Jon, Ludacris, and David Guetta, among many more. Not only does Usher make great music, but he also has shown a strong ability to work well and successfully with a lot of others, which likely has gained him plenty of influential supporters throughout the years.
Why Usher Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s a bit early yet to tell if any particular factors are hindering him. It is an unfortunate truth that radio friendly R&B from someone who can not only sing but dance has not always been quickly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it is unclear if Usher has made any powerful enemies during his time. Perhaps later generations may not look so highly on his several collaborations with Chris Brown, but only time can tell if such factors hinder him here and now.
Verdict: Put him in. This is one of the more obvious cases for induction for the large amount of R&B artists that are going to be eligible in the coming years with smashing chart numbers, and sets a good precedent for the rest of them.