I'm Not Really Into Hyperbole or Whatever but Usher's 'U Don't Have to Call' Is the Best Song Ever Made

Illustration for article titled I'm Not Really Into Hyperbole or Whatever but Usher's 'U Don't Have to Call' Is the Best Song Ever Made
Screenshot: YouTube

Earlier this week, Panama Jackson refreshed and reshared a 2017 piece declaring Mark Morrison’s “Return of The Mack” the best song ever that no one acknowledges is the best song ever. 

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He is wrong for many reasons, including the following:

1. I’m certain that Mark Morrison, the Morrison household, the Morrison family, and the Morrison LLC that I’m presuming Mark Morrison created as a tax shelter to funnel karaoke playlist licensing royalties each pays daily homage to “Return of The Mack.”

This makes the “no one” in “no one” a lie.

2. It is mathematically impossible for “Return of The Mack” to receive acknowledgment for being the sneakily best song ever, because unless there are alternative working definitions for “best” and “song” that I’m not aware of, those two words, next to each other, in a sentence that also includes “Return of The Mack” is a bad sentence.

Also, that title belongs to Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call.”

The best music transcends the inherent abstractness of art, mutating into something tactile. You don’t just hear it, you enter a physical relationship with the consumption of it. It raises blood pressures, stirs guts, erects neck hairs, heats earlobes, splits wigs, and cracks chests. Which makes it difficult to explain, to perhaps a 26-year-old, what the experience of listening to “U Don’t Have to Call” does to me today, because that feeling exists as an encephalogram of what it did to me when hearing it on the radio or in a club in 2002. Never has a song made me happier. Happier to experience it. Happier to witness and experience the collective happiness the song brought to everyone else experiencing it. Happier to (poorly) attempt Usher’s iconic falsetto, to (clumsily) trace the dances in the video, and to (thirstily) aspire to own an Escalade, just so I could rock banded-collar leathers in it with my homies like he did. Happier to be happy.

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It is also one of the rare pieces of art that doesn’t just age well, it flattens time. When I heard it for the first time, in 2002, it induced an immediate nostalgia, like I was remembering it instead of listening to it—a 2nd grade summer camp crush produced by Pharrell. But if it were created and released in 2022, it would still somehow feel like something from the future.

I have nothing else to say. Just listen to the song, and watch it prove that I’m right. No song will ever make you feel better.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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