"Papers" (CD single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Papers" (CD single) Music Poster Image
R&B crooner chronicles his painful divorce.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

While the topic of divorce is hardly positive, the subject is especially negative in this song, with talk of serious hostilities leading to the marriage collapse.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite his divorce, Usher continues to be a fairly good role model, keeping his lyrics relatively clean and the media drama to a minimum. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An allusion to drinking in the lyric "when the bottle's poppin.'"

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this song touches on a serious topic: divorce. Usher doesn't use swear words or go into graphic detail about the intimate details, but his general description of an exceptionally difficult marriage and subsequent break-up will still be too weighty for the youngest ears.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byBig Fan May 5, 2018

Great song, but not quite for younger kids

I think this is a great song. But it's still best for older kids. Infrequent use of mild language includes a few uses of "damn" and 1 use of... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bykelseylopez November 13, 2009


i love chris brown he is my i hearo i look up to him and his music he rocks hes music is asome and so is he go chris i no you had a ruffe time with the holle bo... Continue reading

What's the story?

PAPERS is the first new single from R&B megastar Usher in more than a year (his last release, the full-length CD Here I Stand, hit stores in May 2008). During that time, a lot has happened in the singer's life: he had a second child with wife Tameka Foster, yet the two filed for divorce soon after. The title of his new song refers to divorce "papers," and the song's lyrics chronicle the tumultuous circumstances that led up to the filing. Though he doesn't use graphic language to explain his roller-coaster ride, Usher still describes an intensely personal, difficult, and mature topic that is too grown-up for very young children. For example: "I'm losin' my mind, can't figure out who's wrong or right / I know it's you I love, but then I also know it's you I don't like / You claim you hate who I was, but that's the reason you're here now."

Is it any good?

No matter what he's singing about, Usher's vocals are top notch. That said, this song's subject matter is grim, with exceptionally deep lyrics that go beyond the usual break-up scenario. The end result is a tune that's musically easy on the ears -- with Usher's performance backed by a smooth, slow beat -- yet emotionally heavy on the heart. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about divorce. What can lead two people who were once in love to feel like separating?

  • What can married couples do to try to guard against divorce?

  • Is it appropriate for artists to share their personal struggles with the public?

Music details

  • Artist: Usher
  • Release date: October 20, 2009
  • Label: La Face
  • Genre: R&B
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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