When you were a teenager, you didn't really think about the meanings of the words to your favorite songs. You just sang along — and possibly choreographed dances to them with your friends. And, since nostalgia and millennials are something of a package deal, it's likely that now you look back fondly on the songs of your adolescence as untouchable, perfect, not up for criticism. But have you ever stopped to think about what these songs are actually about? In our Annotated Lyrics series, we'll revisit number-one songs on their chart-topping anniversary to explore what the lyrics are really telling us.
On July 7, 2001, Usher's song "U Remind Me" took the number-one spot on The Billboard Hot 100 list. And it stayed there for the entire month, dethroned only when Destiny Child's "Bootylicious" came to claim its rightful home as the most important song on the radio.
"U Remind Me" likely played a major role in your life, thanks to the discriminating taste of DJs at your middle school dances and Casey Kasem's Sunday morning must-listen programming. And 15 years ago, I personally wasn't very concerned with what Usher was singing about. It had a good beat, Usher was still the babe-du-jour, and even if I did stop to think about the lyrics, I don't think my consciousness was raised enough to have an opinion on the song other than, "I like it."
But now that we're grownups, can we all agree that the crux of this song is that Usher simultaneously wants to date and doesn't want to date a girl because she looks like his ex? Let's take a second look at what's happening here. I've gone ahead and made some notes where it felt necessary to do so.