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Usher on American Idol as mentor

Professional TV junky Deanna Barnert covers all corner of Tinseltown but good television is her passion. Visiting sets, interviewing industry players and critiquing the final product are all in a day's work, as is losing an evening or a...

The Top 10 first mentor

With his long awaited album due out March 30, Usher is making the rounds and American Idol is taking advantage! Idol has nabbed the crooner to play mentor during week three's March 29 show and then perform on the results show on March 30.

The Top 10 first mentor

Having sold 40 million albums worldwide, won five Grammy Awards and started his own label, US Records, Usher should have some good advice for the American Idol top ten. Not only did Billboard Live dub him the number-one Hot 100 artist of last decade and the greatest singer of his generation, but heartbreaker Justin Bieber is an example of what his tutelage and attention can do for a young artist!

His upcoming album, Raymond vs Raymond, has been years in the making. The release date kept getting pushed back, but Usher's long anticipated follow up to Here I Stand is finally hitting stands this month.

Promising a mix of his signature ballads and some edgy club beats, the divorced daddy-o intends to show fans he's got his swagger back.

"I had checked out," Usher admitted to Billboard in a recent interview. "I went all the way into being super husband and super dad, thinking, I've got to be serious all the time. I've got to be the man. I put my swagger down for a minute, but I didn't throw it away. Now it's time to get it back."

The 14 tracks album includes collaborations with Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, TI, Sean Garrett and Pharell. While fans will recognize Usher's smooth voice and style, he also mixes it up with tracks like OMG, which he made with Black Eyed Peas frontman, and sounds more like a Peas jam than classic Usher.

"I've come through a metamorphosis and I'm in my new skin," Usher said. "A lot of things have happened in the last few years that could have broke me, but I'm still standing; rejuvenated with a new peace, confidence and energy. I've got fire in my eyes."

The fire is paying off. Several tracks have already hit the airwaves, the net and even the Billboard charts. Hey Daddy is currently climbing, hitting number 4 on R&B-Hip Hop chart and 20 in Radio, with Lil' Freak featuring Nicki Minaj close behind. Papers and There Goes My Baby have also made appearances in the charts.

Ready to swagger back into our hearts and Ipods this month, Usher has more stops than Idol on the schedule.

The week of the album release, fans can catch him just about everywhere. Monday, March 29, he'll be dishing with the Good Morning America crew and then performing on Late Show with David Letterman. Tuesday, he'll be back on Good Morning America to perform and then plays mentor to the Idol contenders. Wednesday it's back to American Idol for a performance and Thursday, it's over to Ellen DeGeneres and Lopez Tonight. Finally, Friday he'll hit the CBS Early Show for both and interview and some crooner.

Talk about a busy week!

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