No, Usher hasn’t dropped the E and started going by Ushr. This has to do with music. The Weeknd recently spoke to Variety to promote his latest album, After Hours. The interview took a little detour when The Weeknd decided to publicly accuse Usher of copying him.
Variety writes that The Weeknd has always had a unique music style since the beginning of his career. His first studio album Kiss Land was released in 2013, but he had released two mix tapes previous to that, in 2011. So The Weeknd’s sound and general vibe was somewhat established in 2011 with his first mix tape, House of Balloons. The Weeknd argues that after House of Balloons was released, everyone started doing “moody alt-R&B.” Especially Usher, apparently. In 2012, Usher released the song “Climax.” Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery for some, but The Weeknd was pretty pissed. According to The Weeknd, “Climax” was a blatant rip-off of his style. A bold statement coming from a person who appears to pull 98% of his ideas from a Michael Mann-themed Pinterest board, but I digress. The point is, The Weeknd wasn’t thrilled.
“House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes. I heard ‘Climax,’ that Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy fuck, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
This is “Climax.”
The Weeknd doesn’t name any song in particular, but I’ll do the petty work for him and allow you to compare “Climax” to “Wicked Games.”
I’m no music scholar, but I guess I can see the similarities. Both sound like they were ripped from the soundtrack of a movie where Robert Pattinson commits warehouse arson against a coke dealer to save a stripper named Whisper. So yeah, they’re similar, but not identical.
Variety reached out to Usher for his opinion on The Weeknd’s accusations of plagiarism, but didn’t get a response. That’s not to say Usher wasn’t aware of The Weeknd’s opinion. Not long after The Weeknd’s interview was posted, R&B singer-songwriter Eric Bellinger, who has collaborated with Usher, started the #ClimaxChallenge on Instagram. Eric didn’t work on “Climax,” but he clearly felt the need to come to the defense of Usher (Usher Usher).
The #ClimaxChallenge involves singing the first few bars of “Climax” in your highest-pitched dog whistle register. Usher sanctioned Eric’s musical clap-back by posting a clip of himself doing it from his couch.
Several people have tagged The Weeknd in the #ClimaxChallenge, but so far he hasn’t responded. Usher probably shouldn’t have participated either. Unless you know the context, Usher’s #ClimaxChallenge sounds like the kind of game that ends with a call to a lawyer.