Following up Climax must have been intimidating for Usher. The lead single to his last album reverberated throughout the music industry, and is largely responsible for the mainstream popularity of alternative R&B. It’s influence is still very audible today, in the work of artists like Zayn or Miguel. It’s also audible in Crash, the lead single to Usher’s upcoming eighth album, Flawed.
That’s not to say that Usher hasn’t advanced his style, however. The most notable influence on the song is the current in-vogue sound of Tropical House. The gentle 4/4 beat of the track could have come from any track on Kygo’s recent album, and the relaxed tempo differentiates it from the EDM-pop tracks that have been so successful over the last few years.
In spite of the new influences, Climax is still very much the core that Crash is trying to emulate. It can’t replicate that track’s masterful, constantly ebbing structure, but it certainly matches it for a smooth soundscape, and Usher’s beautiful falsetto. Since Usher is such a big popstar, it can be easy to forget that he’s an incredibly talented vocalist, with one of the most natural-sounding falsetto voices in the world. Crash makes the most of his 3-octave vocal range, alternating between soaring high notes in the chorus, and butter-smooth low ones in the verses.
In spite of not being his most original track, Crash is a very solid lead single to Flawed. It suggests that Usher recognises how phenomenal Climax was, and intends to build on that success, integrating it with new sounds and ideas, which will hopefully prove to be a recipe for success.