The Bottom Line
Usher's voice is undoubtedly a beautiful instrument. David Guetta provides a setting here for him to shine. However, the shifting back and forth between sparse ballad and uptempo dance means "Without You" never quite has a true climax. The result is all pop anticipation without the payoff.
- Usher's beautiful vocals
- Exciting introduction
- The song never reaches a satisfying climax
- Feels like pop music by committee
- Written by Pierre Guetta, Usher Raymond, Giorgio Tuinfort, Frédéric Riesterer, Rico Love, and Taio Cruz
- Produced by David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort, and Frédéric Riesterer
- Released September 2011 by Virgin
Guide Review - David Guetta - "Without You" featuring Usher
David Guetta explains in verbal notes he has provided to the music streaming service Spotify that Usher is an artist who can sell both romantic balladry and uptempo dance music. "Without You" is an attempt to showcase him in both contexts in the same song. That may be a worthy goal, but the result here is that in the context of a three and a half minute pop song we never get to hear Usher truly shine in either one.
"Without You" kicks off with Usher building into a slowly surging dance track. It is exciting, but then when the song slips back to spare balladry it seems to lose most of the momentum that had been gained. Lyrically "Without You" is not strong enough either to carry us anywhere in particular. It is basically a repetition of the concept that life is no fun without a particular person. David Guetta states in his comments that it is a very emotional song, but that does not come through in the arrangement. Instead "Without You" feels like a commercial song created by committee. Part of that committee in the songwriting is hitmaker Taio Cruz.
David Guetta is clearly the star dance pop creator of the moment. His new album Nothing But the Beat has a featured artist list that reads like a who's who of current top pop artists. However, the songs are then starting to feel more like production numbers from a star-studded TV special instead of like someone was concentrating on creating a truly memorable, durable pop record. Usher is in fine voice here, and the dance beat is impeccable. However, it seems the talents involved could have created much more.