Might as well say it right at the top: Usher's new song is no match for Michael Jackson's old one.
At last week's iHeartRadio Music Awards, Usher lent his dance skills to the premiere of "Love Never Felt So Good," a previously unreleased -- and thoroughly delightful -- Jackson tune from 1983 that's slated to appear on this month's "Xscape."
As thrilling a mover as any in modern pop, Usher was a welcome addition to the Jackson number, even if you were left wondering exactly why he'd agreed to help introduce a song that doesn't involve him.
The likely answer: to build some buzz ahead of the release Monday of Usher's own track, "Good Kisser," the lead single from a studio album expected to be released this fall.
That strategy worked, of course -- see this very blog post, among many others.
But connecting himself to the excellent "Love Never Felt So Good" also had the effect of ramping up expectations for Usher's song. And in that regard, "Good Kisser" is something of a letdown.
Produced by a team that includes Pop & Oak, who've worked with Big Sean and Nicki Minaj, it's a stripped-back soul-funk number in which Usher suggestively describes his lover's skills. (You can find it on YouTube.)
She makes him holler. She gets lipstick on his leg. She prepares steak and eggs at 5 in the morning. And that's just for starters.
Yet as gamely as Usher handles the song's appealingly kinky conceit, "Good Kisser" never really goes anywhere, especially compared to the similarly old-school "Twisted," from the singer's last album, 2012's "Looking 4 Myself."