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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 1978

Hi there!

Canadians, I want to know one thing.  Have you recovered from your turkey comas yet?  After all, Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and I hope that you had a lot of fun and warm memories spending time with your loved ones.

Americans, I want to know one thing.  How was your Columbus Day?  Did you find your way around your cities and towns today, or did you get lost and accidentally discover a whole new world?  Whatever you did yesterday, I hope you had fun.

And to everyone else in the world...well, I have no idea what holidays - if any - you celebrated yesterday, but whatever it is you did yesterday, I hope you gave it your all!

For now, I do believe we have a Tuesday Timeline to deal with.  It's October 14, and as it so happens, a lot happened on this date in history.  Before we get to the main event though, let's look at the other things that took place.

1586 - Mary, Queen of Scots goes on trial for conspiracy against England's Elizabeth I

1656 - Massachusetts enacts the first punitive legislation against the Religious Society of Friends - or Quakers, as they were widely known as

1773 - Several British East India Company tea ships are set on fire near Annapolis, Maryland

1812 - Work on London's Regent Canal begins

1884 - George Eastman is granted a patent for his new paper-strip photographic film

1888 - "Roundhay Garden Scene" becomes the very first motion picture ever made

1908 - The Chicago Cubs win their last World Series to date, defeating the Detroit Tigers 2-0

1912 - President Theodore Roosevelt is shot by John Schrank while campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - amazingly he still makes his scheduled speech despite having a bullet still lodged inside his body

1913 - 439 miners are killed in the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster

1926 - A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" is first published

1933 - Nazi Germany withdraws from the League of Nations

1944 - Athens, Greece is liberated by British Army troops entering the city as the Wehrmacht pulls out during World War II

1957 - Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first Canadian monarch to open up a session of the Canadian Parliament

1958 - An underground nuclear weapon test is performed by the American Atomic Energy Commission just north of Las Vegas, Nevada

1962 - The commencement of the Cuban Missile Crisis following an American Air Force U-2 reconnaissance plane flying over Cuba and taking photos of Soviet missiles being installed and erected there

1967 - Singer Joan Baez is arrested following her being a part of a physical blockade outside of the U.S. Army induction center in Oakland, California in protest against the Vietnam War

1977 - Singer Bing Crosby passes away in Spain at the age of 74

1979 - The first gay rights march takes place in Washington, D.C., attracting over 200,000 people

1982 - Ronald Reagan proclaims a "War on Drugs"

1998 - Eric Rudolph is charged with the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as five others

2006 - A college football brawl between the University of Miami and Florida International University leads to the suspension of 31 players from both teams

And let's see who is celebrating a birthday today!  Happy birthday to Roger Moore, Ralph Lauren, Cliff Richard, Art Shamsky, Lesley Joseph, Justin Hayward, Dan McCafferty, Marcia Barrett, David Ruprecht, Joey Travolta, Harry Anderson, Greg Evigan, Arleen Sorkin, Thomas Dolby, Isaac Mizrahi, Lori Petty, Steve Coogan, Karyn White, Jay Ferguson, Natalie Maines, Jonathan Kerrigan, Stacy Keibler, Daniel Clark, Jay Pharoah, MacKenzie Mauzy, Max Thieriot, Shona McGarty, Daniel Roche, and Rowan Blanchard.

Oh, I should mention that today is also the birthday of today's Tuesday Timeline subject.  And he was born exactly thirty-six years ago today on October 14, 1978.

And I suppose you could say that this Texas-born, Tennessee raised R&B star has had quite the life.  From the time he began singing at the tender age of nine in a local church youth choir, many people in his life had the belief that he was destined for stardom.  And certainly after releasing seven albums and having several chart-topping hits, he has certainly made a mark on the Billboard charts!  But would you believe that he also founded a record label in 2002 (when he was barely twenty-four years old), served as a judge on the hit television series "The Voice", and founded the non-profit charity organization "New Look"?  That's mighty impressive for anybody of any age to do!

So, I thought that I would use this opportunity to go through each of Usher's seven different albums, choose one single from each album that I really enjoyed, and talk about him a little bit through each single.  I'll also throw in some little pieces of trivia about him as well throughout each video, so keep reading.

I couldn't think of another way to celebrate Usher Raymond's birthday!

So, let's get started with album number one!

USHER (August 1994)

Okay, can you believe that it's been twenty years since Usher released his very first album?  That would have meant that he was the same exact age Debbie Gibson was when she recorded her debut disc back in 1986-1987.  Unfortunately for Usher, his disc didn't do as well as Debbie's debut.  The effort was largely unheard on the Billboard charts, with the album itself peaking at #167 on the Billboard 200 album charts.  But, I suppose that everybody has their initial struggles at first.  At least one thing you could say about Usher was that even back then he was a gifted singer.  He did compete on "Star Search" the year before this album was released, and was briefly a part of an R&B quintet called NuBeginnings.  So, I suppose it was inevitable that he would release a solo album shortly after.

As far as songs go from the album, not many made appearances on the charts.  One of the only successful songs from this album was "Can U Get Wit It", and it only made it to #59 on the charts.  However, this was just a taste.  It wouldn't be until album #2 that Usher became more than just a word to describe a ticket taker at the movie theatre.

MY WAY (September 1997)

Sometime after releasing "Usher", Usher formed a friendship with Jermaine Dupri, who served as one of the main producers of Usher's second album (the other producer was Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds).  With a team of hitmakers behind the helm of this album, it was almost expected that the album would do quite well.

And with the opening track "You Make Me Wanna..." exploding all over MTV and radio in the summer of 1997, it was the beginning of Usher's career.  I have to admit that of all the singles from this album, I like this one the most.  The album sold 66,000 copies during its first week, and it is estimated that nearly seven million copies of this album have been sold since it was released.  Coincidentally, Usher was also starring in the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" during this time.  I suppose that he was hoping to fall back on an acting career should the singing not pan out.

8701 (July 2001)

Many people wondered what the album title "8701" meant when it was first released.  I initially thought that it meant August 7, 2001 which I assume was meant to be the release date of the album (August 7 was on a Tuesday which is when almost all new albums come out).  But with the album being released in July, that squashed that theory.  Turns out that 8701 is meant to be read as '87-'01.  The '87 for the year that Usher began singing, and the '01 for the year of the album's release.  Pretty clever, huh?

And certainly there are tons of album singles to choose from here.  Myself, while I get that "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad" were bigger hits, I tend to like this one the best.  Instantly gets anyone on their feet.

Besides, after trying to do a computer assignment in a computer lab as school and hearing a girl singing along to "U Got It Bad" while listening to an Usher CD in her discman (remember those), I no longer like that song anymore. 

CONFESSIONS (March 2004)

Initially, Usher just wanted to stick with what he knew best and continued to work with Jermaine Dupri, but was convinced by L.A. Reid of Arista Records to bring on some more producers to add a new dimension to the record.  It was a good decision on Usher's part, for bringing on Lil Jon and Ludacris helped the album out a lot.  After all, the album's first single "Yeah!" became a massive hit in 2004 because of them. 

In fact, 2004 was a huge year for Usher in general.  Of the 52 weeks of the year that made up 2004, he was #1 for twenty-eight of them!  How is that for awesome!

Now, as far as my favourite song on the album goes?  I'd have to say "Burn".  It stayed on the top of the charts for eight weeks, but it is also considered one of Usher's most personal songs.  You see, this song was recorded right around the time that he ended his relationship with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of TLC.  Listen to the lyrics closely.

HERE I STAND (May 2008)

This record marked a lot of personal changes in Usher's life.  It was the first record he made since getting together with Tameka Foster (they would later get divorced in 2009), the first record since his mother stopped being his personal manager, and the record was released the same year that Usher's father passed away.  Usher also became a father in late 2007 for the first time - just a few months before this album was released.

And perhaps all of this change in Usher's personal life reflected in this album's promotion and reception.  It's considered to be Usher's weakest album to date.  Even the singles from the album didn't do as well despite Usher having at least one #1 hit from the disc.  This particular song didn't even make the Top 40. 

It's too bad, as this song is quite good.


This album did much better on the charts than Usher's previous album, debuting at #1 on the Billboard album charts and Usher broke a record with this album for having at least one #1 single from five consecutive albums, as well as being one of four artists to have #1 singles in three consecutive decades!

And here's the song that helped him achieve that feat!  Can you say OMG!

And certainly, Usher's OMG tour was considered one of the best tours of 2010-2011.  He performed 92 concerts all over the world, and it was ranked as the seventh most successful tours of the year by Billboard Magazine in 2011.  

LOOKING 4 MYSELF (June 2012)

As of right now, this is the most recent album in the Usher chronology (though he is currently working on finishing up album number eight), and it was released on RCA Records following the disbandment of LaFace and Jive Records in late 2011.  This album was also a bit of an experiment album for Usher as he wanted to incorporate a brand new style of music into the album - a style known as "revolutionary pop".  And certainly, the album seemed to focus more on a Europop sound than his previous R & B efforts.  I suppose it makes a little bit of sense that Usher would try something new, given that he had just gotten divorced three years earlier, and had replaced Cee-Lo Green on "The Voice" judging panel.  And it was also the year in which his former stepson Kile was seriously injured in a freak accident involving a jet-ski and never regained consciousness.  He died just a month after this album was released.

My favourite track from the album?  Well, I figure that it would be this one.

And, I suppose it's a good song to end off this blog entry with.  After all, birthdays are meant to be celebrated, and this song certainly makes you get on your feet!

Happy birthday, Usher!

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