Comparing This and That, pt 3. Usher vs Elvis Costello

guilty as hell

guilty as charged


This is a post I have been thinking about writing for a long time but I have been delaying it for an almost equally long time for two simple reasons, which I shall go into immediately.

The first reason is that I was vitrified into a kurtzo  figurine, and blogging is such a bind when your arms are ceramically fused to your torso, believe you me.

And the second reason is that I have been hunting for a video clip that I wanted to embed into this post but to no avail. Anyway, enough already, as the bishop said to the actress.

This is the third post in our occasional series of “Comparing This and That” and this week we will be looking at two songs: Guilty  by Usher and I Stand Accused  by Elvis Costello. Many moons ago we compared and contrasted two versions of a song by Lily Allen and The Specials and today we’re going to be looking at two different songs which share the same theme, as you might have guessed when you read the titles of the songs in the last sentence.

The reason we are embarking on this journey of identification and discovery is to make a written record, in a sense, of a conversation with my dear friend Zakiya, in which we discussed all the points that I am going to refer to in this post.

I think I should say, at this point, that you really ought to listen to both of these songs right now. Stop reading this blog; listen to Guilty  and I Stand Accused  so that you know what I am talking about, in the sad case that you know neither of these songs.

OK, so now you have listened to them.

Usher is pathetic. He whines and protests. He doesn’t confess, he owns up. Like a sheepish schoolboy, he puts his hand up and says it was his fault.

I guess I'm guilty for wanting to be up in the club
I guess I'm guilty cause girls always want to show me love
I guess I'm guilty for living and having a little fun
Girl I'm guilty for that girl I’m guilty


Do we sense remorse in Usher’s confession? Not a jot. He says


 Your Honor,I didn't know that I hurt her
I didn't know she was crying
I didn't know that it was killing this love


He spends most of the song pleading to the judge thus:


Don't take me to jail
Don't take me to jail
Don't take me to jail


How immature. He complains that it’s not fair; how can this ungrateful girl accuse him of not being there for her? After all, he has given her:


Couple million dollar worth of bags and full of shoes
7 carat solitaire, Caribbean water blue
Range Rover, Porsche powder mirror in the Bentley coupe


An impressive gift list, indeed, Mr Usher, but, you know what? You manage to be both poor and cheap at the same time, thinking you can buy a woman’s acquiescence with your ill-earned dollars.


Learn a lesson in manhood from Elvis, who also declares himself guilty. Yes, he’s guilty, and what’s more, downright PROUD of it. He loves his lady and bares his chest to the firing squad:


 yeah I stand accused
and I got no defence
all I need is a touch from your hand
find myself on the witness stand
I’d be unable to lie girl
I got a love that won’t die girl
tell the world that I was guilty


Bow down your head, Usher, you shameful creature. Elvis Costello takes it on the chin, turns the other cheek, spins round and yells the truth at the judge, the jury, the barrister, the girl, the girl’s friends and relations, anybody who cares to listen. The truth isn’t just “out there”, it’s in here, says Elvis, and we will listen to him because he’s right and because it’s such a damn good song and he sings it so well.


It should be said that Usher was singing in 2010 and Elvis in 1980. Have we changed so much in thirty years? Have we gone from being honest, straightforward men to whimpering, shallow pussies in this time? Are we afraid of climbing the fiercest mountain and shouting out to the world, “I love her!” or, worse, of saying fearlessly, “I love you” to the woman we love?


Usher is regarded as the king of R & B. How miserable that this acronym has sunk from its original meaning of Rhythm and Blues to this drab commercial umbrella-term which basically means that the singer ain’t white. Other things that R & B can stand for:


Restless and bored
Russia and Belarus
Rum and black
Riots and bombs
Rich and bitchy
Ramón and Belén (the old couple that live next door to us)


Elvis Costello recorded I Stand Accused  for his album Get Happy!  Some of the tracks of this album are available on YouTube but not this one. You can find videos of Usher easy enough without me needing you to guide me.


Sigh. What is the world coming to.


Visca el Barça and visca Elvis Costello.







One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Rihanna on September 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    usher u r my babydaddy i love u soooooo much more than anything


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