Usher recreating one of cinema's most glorious moments, Gene Kelly singing in the rain in, well, Singing in the Rain. The R&B star, who did the filmed routine for an awards ceremony called Movies Rock, turns in a vigorous, stylish performance that honors its inspiration well.
Perhaps a comparison to Kelly, a god in the pantheon of the American movie musical, would be unfair--but, as this companion video shows, also inevitable and fascinating. Usher, as good a hoofer as he is, simply can't hold a candle to Kelly. His nearly step-by-step facsimile of the original sequence is flawless, and yet it's merely dancing, small and pinched when placed side by side with Kelly's elegant, exuberantly athletic turn on that soggy street.
Still, this is Usher--doing Singing in the Rain. After he's played Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway. Props to him for his obvious affection for musicals, whether of the stage or screen. He should do the Leading Player in Pippin next; his vibe recalls Ben Vereen, who got a Tony for the part. Or how about another narrator, El Gallo in The Fantasticks? Usher singing Try to Remember--now that'd be sweet.
PLUS: More Rain-y riffs--figure-skating champion Kurt Browning dancing the sequence on ice (beautiful!); Mint Royale's techno showdown; the charismatic Jamie Cullum retooling the song into a jazz-rock ditty; Volkswagen's nifty Gene Kelly breakdancing ad; George Sampson wowing Simon Cowell et al in Britain's Got Talent with a hip-hop version; and the craziest--What if George Lucas restored Singing in the Rain?