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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
Student breaks school record in track race
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 21, 2024

When junior Nathan Szubin stepped up to the line of the 3,200 meter race in the Johns Hopkins Invitational Meet on April 19, he had a different...

Arditi Zarouk (second from left) celebrates the 50-year anniversary of Perach with her team at the residence of Israeli President Herzog. Used with permission from Arditi Zarouk.
Former students and staff readjust to Israel in the wake of war
Mia Forseter, Sports Editor • April 19, 2024

The Israeli embassy and military send over emissaries every year, and many of these families choose to send their kids to CESJDS. When they go...

A day of matzo meals
A day of matzo meals
Sophie Schwartz, Opinion Editor • April 18, 2024

Many people dread Pesach time, when their beloved chametz (leaven) is replaced with dry, brittle matzo. However, if presented well, matzo does...

Junior Evan Klepper gets ready for his WIS opponent to serve
Lions tennis fall short to WIS
Isaiah Segal-Geetter, Reporter • April 18, 2024

“Twenty four on 3, Mashiach on 6,” junior and tennis captain Evan Klepper said to the varsity boys tennis team before their match against...

Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Eighth grade visits Capitol Hill
Jonah Mitre, Reporter • April 17, 2024

To put their learning from government class into perspective, eighth grade students visited Capitol Hill on April 10 for a field trip. Throughout...

At the college fair on April 7, Pitzer College representatives boasted about their Students Justice for Palestine (SJP) club to a Jewish student.
Opinion: Colleges need to support Zionist students
Stella Muzin, Editor-in-Chief • April 16, 2024

On April 7, I attended the Washington Area Independent Schools College Fair, which was co-sponsored by CESJDS along with other schools from the...

USHER’s Latest Album is Formulaic Fun

USHER+realeases+his+ninth+studio+album+prior+to+his+performance+at+the+Apple+Music+SuperBowl+Halftime+show.
usherworld.com
USHER realeases his ninth studio album prior to his performance at the Apple Music SuperBowl Halftime show.

USHER gave the halftime performance for the last Super Bowl. With over 100 million people watching the Super Bowl halftime show, the music needs to appeal to many. The sounds on USHER’s latest album, Coming Home, highlight that by being consistently formulaic, lifeless and pandering. 

Despite the album being relatively uninteresting, it is still a mixed bag. The music may not be deep or varied, but its instrumentals aren’t terrible to listen to and can be somewhat catchy from time to time. USHER’s ninth studio album is consistently pleasing to the ear. Yet it does not hold a candle to any of his previous albums.

Much of the album sounds like a bland rehashing of USHER’s previous hits, almost as if songs from Confessions had the groove and soul taken out of them and sounded like hollow shells of themselves yet kept some of the infectious hooks.

Songs like “Keep on Dancin’”, “Stone Kold Freak” and “Room in a Room”, seem like superficial reskins of old USHER songs, without the catchy hooks or good vocals. However, there are pleasant instrumentals and heavy autotune that make these songs enjoyable to listen to .

The album largely falls into the realm of radio-friendly pop and R&B blend. The production and beats on the album are all similar and unoriginal, many of which I would even consider quite boring, yet there isn’t one song that I could say is poorly mixed and constructed. Despite it not always being creative or interesting, the beats and instrumentation is never unpolished. 

The pop-adjacent nightclub tracks “A-Town Girl”, “Keep on Dancin’” and “Good Good” are perfect examples of these strong instrumentals, with all three tracks sounding bland yet well-refined. But, while they have this advantage, the three tracks are some of the album’s most egregious displays of lack of creative inspiration, with the electronic production sounding like it was pumped straight out of the Universal Music Group board room.

The more R&B-oriented cuts are boring as well, with the beats sounding like different, slightly altered variations of the same beat. Many of the songs from the second half of the album sound virtually indistinguishable from one another. 

The album’s featured artists stood out especially, with guests like “H.E.R” and “21 Savage” consistently outshining USHER.

Many of these features seemingly served as inspirations for the album as well, with H.E.R. ‘s music distinctly playing a huge role in the musical direction of the album.

I could compare much of what the album does to the chart toppers of the R&B genre of the past five years, the works of Brent Faiyaz and SZA seem to have heavily contributed to the sonic direction of this album. Yet the album only sounds like these two artists on the most superficial level, with it lacking the interesting lyrics and variety that they have. It sounds almost as if USHER cobbled together a list of the most successful traits of a modern R&B album and attempted to make the most digestible album possible.

Although, lyrically the album may seem varied, in reality, they all just are different variations of the 21st-century Playboy. Much of the album remains in the realm of bland sensuality. Songs like “I Am the Party” and “Please U” all read as different versions of the same story.

The album’s few variations from its general sound come out as the highlights of the album. Although not revolutionary, songs like “Cold Blooded” “Big” and “Risk It All” employ different instrumental styles from the rest and offer a refreshing break from the drab R&B of the rest of the album.

Despite all this, the predictable choruses of the album can be quite catchy and are often the highlights; the choruses on “Ruin” and “On the Side”, although not revolutionary, are very catchy and pleasing to listen to.

Overall, the album is a mixed bag. Much of it is bland and artificial, yet it can be somewhat captivating and fun. However, I would not go out of my way to listen to it, and would not recommend it.

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