Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Michael Jackson memorial: Usher sings 'Gone Too Soon'

July 7, 2009 | 12:28 pm


Pop & Hiss brings you quick thoughts on some of the main performances at today's Michael Jackson memorial.

What: Usher’s ‘Gone Too Soon.’

One of Jackson’s later ballads, the song appeared on 1993’s “Dangerous” and was among the album’s final singles. Usher, in black, oversized aviator sunglasses, was accompanied largely by organ and brief orchestral flourishes, but he didn’t let the sparseness keep him confined to the stage.

Usher wandered close to Jackson’s casket, just off to the side, covered in roses. As the song winded down, Usher lost his composure, took off his sunglasses and broke into tears.

Usher was moving on pure emotion, and as Ann Powers noted from inside the Staples Center, it was a bit  strange, perhaps uncomfortable, to see him singing directly at Jackson’s coffin. Yet, as Powers wrote, Usher’s vocals were “pristine.”

“He choked up near the song's end,” Powers writes, “and the Jackson family enveloped him in a group hug. I am not sure how to react.”

It felt like a very private moment, one not often captured on national television.

-- Ann Powers and Todd Martens

Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times