Directed by Chris Applebaum and Grace Harry, the duo behind the drenched “Dive” clip, Usher’s “Numb” video begins with pulsing footage of Usher on stage in Berlin, head hung low as an announcer explains that, “he tried because he loves Berlin and he really wanted to give you guys a show, but he just couldn’t do it. Thanks for understanding.” Usher’s show in Berlin last January really did get cut short, and you can hear that he’s still remorseful when he says here that, “I felt like a failure. Hopeless. Paralyzed. Lonely.” The botched show is not the end of his troubles, though, and there are images of him kneeling at someone’s hospital bed and taking care of a little kid.
But “Numb” is an anthem of overcoming, an insistence that you “shake it off, let it go, I don’t care anymore” because “you never know until you let go,” and so Usher doesn’t give in so easy. Rather, he gives the kid a hug, enjoys a dance at the strip club (why not?) and sings out all the rest in a recording booth. There is also a great sequence where he dances in a big glass cube, refusing to let those walls keep him from breaking it all down. Because this is an Usher video, and you know what Usher does? He dances.