US chart peak: 9
Release date: April 27, 2012
Writers: Max Martin, Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Usher Raymond
Producers: Max Martin, Shellback
Quintessential Max moment: “a-ooh baby baby”
Video synopsis: Man dressed as waiter wonders around a human aquarium.
As with the majority of young, attractive pop stars, Usher enjoys having sexual intercourse. He’s also a fan of singing songs about how much he enjoys it, letting his fans know in the process that he’s really good at it. (Side note: It would be nice to have a few more songs about mediocre sex I reckon. “Let me excite you momentarily, almost accidentally, and then we can just go through the motions for ten minutes because there’s nothing much on TV”. That sort of thing).
While ‘Scream’’s predecessor, the slow-burning futuristic ballad ‘Climax’, should really have been about spectacular orgasms given that title, it falls to ‘Scream’ to detail that specific moment. Perhaps as a reaction to ‘Climax’’s relative classiness and restraint (Usher called the song “artistic”), ‘Scream’ doesn’t exactly beat around the bush as it were.
Basically, Usher’s drunk on the look of a certain lady in a bar/club environment and, no matter how hard he tries to avoid the situation, he’s keen to live his life by having all the sex with her. So how does he woo this lucky, unnamed lady friend, I hear you cry. Well, with this charming chat-up line: “Now relax and get on your back”. Who could resist.
As you can probably tell, lyrically we’re not on particularly noteworthy ground here. The song’s real pleasure resides in the way the myriad hooks and melodies manifest themselves in the song’s synthetic mesh, particularly the way the song builds – LIKE AN ORGASM DO YOU SEE – to the explosive chorus. There’s a great bit in said chorus where words fail him and he just sings “a-ooh baby baby, ooh baby baby” and it’s basically the point where it lodges in your head forever.
Also, in case you hadn’t reached your own, erm, climax after the chorus, the slow-build middle eight that eventually erupts into a long primal growl makes it abundantly clear what’s going on. *lights cigarette*.