“Yeah!” - Usher ft. Ludacris & Li'l Jon
Intro: Starting his career in the 1990s, R&B singer Usher has achieved nine #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, including 2004’s “Yeah!”, which topped the charts for 12 consecutive weeks. It went on to be crowned the year-end number 1 single on the Billboard charts, as well as to number 1 in 14 other countries outside of the US. The song won the Grammy in 2005 for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Making use of traditional R&B singing, the song also crossed over into the popular mid-2000s rap subgenre known as crunk, which originated in Usher's hometown of Atlanta. Overall, Usher has won eight Grammys and continues to record today.
Analysis: Published in G minor (natural minor, or Aeolian mode), the ascending perfect fifth is the first interval heard in the song, in the very first two notes. The melodic motif of G-D-G-Eb-G-Eb-G-D is heard throughout the song. When the vocals enter, particularly at the start of the chorus at 0:20 in the music video, the main vocal motif is a descending perfect fourth.
Considerations for Teaching: Although this song is already extremely popular and still very well known, the subject matter is questionable for the classroom. The sung portion discusses a possible illicit romance beginning at a club and contains suggestive themes, although it lacks major profanity (but includes the words “damn”, “hell”). The rapped portion of the song, performed by Ludacris, contains a great deal of sexualized language, overtly inappropriate subject material, and total objectification of women, thus making this portion of the song totally inappropriate for classroom use. The major theoretical concepts can be expressed by just listening to the opening notes, but teachers should proceed with great caution if this song is chosen as a listening example.