[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]
Song: David Guetta's “Without You” featuring Usher
History: “Without You” is a track from David Guetta's Nothing but the Beat, which he released as a double disc album earlier this year.
FYI, Guetta is a DJ/producer, so he doesn't rap or sing on any of these tracks, he just mostly helps make the beat. He's basically a French DJ Khaled, except instead of screaming he stands there with long hair, and that's a million times better. God, Khaled is the worst. This is the conversation he had right before he got famous:
Khaled: Man, I want to be famous so bad.
Friend: Really? Why?
Khaled: I don't even know. I just do.
Friend: Well, do you have any skills?
Khaled: Ummm … not really.
Friend: That might be tricky, then.
Khaled: Yeah, probably. Hmmm … I can yell.
Khaled: I can yell.
Friend: Like, as in scream? That's your talent?
Khaled: Yeah. I mean, yeah, I can do that. Watch. LOOK!!! I'M YELLING!!!
Friend: Fuck it. Go with that.
Atmospherics: Wispy, thumping, fidgety … the sort of circular, trance-y, house dance track that Guetta was built by Zeus to create. Sounds like what it feels like when you're on one of those merry-go-rounds at the playground and someone weak is pushing it … fat and empty … pretty and pretty and easy to imitate and pretty …
Scientific Analysis: The song wanders around in this existential codependent stupor (“I can't win, I can't reign, I will never win this game, without you, without you” x30), and I suppose that's mildly interesting.
And the video, which shows Guetta and Usher rocking balls so hard that it literally reverses 250 million years of continental drifting, is fun enough, if not altogether scientifically flimsy for the sake of disproportionate world optimism.
I mean, sure, that party might be cool now that you've connected the Americas, Brazil, Thailand and more all back together, but what about all of the people that inevitably died during the resulting earthquakes and tsunamis? John Cusack's only one man. He can't save them all. But here's the most astounding, most prurient piece of gorgeous scientific observation: Turns out, Usher is not a handsome man(!?). I know, right?
He's had everyone fooled for, like, fifteen years already. But he's just not. It's a mirage, a myth, a fabrication. He's been using a two-pronged attack on your eyes (genitals?).
First, he wears some sunglasses, which gobble up a good 40 percent of his face. Then he includes a wicked hand pose near his head to distract another 45 percent of your attention. So basically, he's only left with, at worst, 15 percent of the space to fill, and fuck you if you don't think he's at least 15 percent attractive.
Look, proof. Here's the Usher we've been sold, a screen grab from the video:
Your brain tells you that this is a handsome man. Examine it more closely though. It's an illusion — an Usherllusion, if you will.
See? Here's another example, this one from his “Oh My Gosh” video, with the assistors already pointed out:
Now here he is without his devilish tricks:
I'll give you a minute to reconstruct your psyche. Sorry.
And Just Because: Here's Jermaine Dupree trying the same trick back in the video for Usher's 1997 “You Make Me Wanna.” It does not have the same effect:
(I) DJ Khaled is less than amazing.
(II) This is David Guetta's song, even though it's really Usher's song.
(III) Usher is not handsome, but he can certainly trick you into thinking he is.
(IV) Jermaine Dupri is not handsome.
(V) Jermaine Dupri is not handsome.