Although wild, Usher’s Super Bowl halftime show solidified his name in R&B.


In entering the Super Bowl halftime show, Usher faced no need to prove himself. With a career spanning nearly three decades, he has garnered significant goodwill and a recent resurgence in cultural relevance, particularly through a highly successful Las Vegas residency and a memorable viral moment.

Nonetheless, headlining such an event is akin to achieving an EGOT for any pop superstar. On Sunday evening, Usher treated it as the hard-earned pinnacle of his legacy. Early in his spirited performance, he declared, “They said I wouldn’t make it; they said I wouldn’t be here today, but I am,” a sentiment underscored by a shout-out to his mother. For longtime fans, from the era of “My Way” and “U Make Me Wanna,” this moment was cause for celebration.

Described as “rated U” by Apple Music, the performance was undeniably frenetic and rushed. The opening number, “Caught Up,” exuded the glitzy vibes of Vegas, with a plethora of background performers—feather-adorned ladies, acrobats, stilt walkers, and more. Amidst this spectacle, Usher, in his bright all-white and sparkling ensemble, stood out, although the rapid camera cuts occasionally diverted attention from the star. Additionally, the vocal and sound mixing left something to be desired.

The subsequent medley traversed his extensive catalog at a breakneck pace, occasionally leaving little time to savor each song fully. Yet, the performance shone brightest when Usher indulged in his smooth, swaggering choreography and lingered on a song, exemplified by the classic ballad “U Got It Bad.” Here, as he shed his shirt, the vocals took center stage, complemented by a guitar solo from H.E.R., creating a magical moment.

As anticipated, Usher’s esteemed collaborators made appearances to underscore his musical prowess. Alicia Keys performed snippets of her solo hit “If I Ain’t Got You” and their duet “My Boo,” while Jermaine Dupri, Will. I’m, Lil Jon, and Ludacris joined in for various hits, including “Confessions (Part II),” “OMG,” and the finale, “Yeah.”

Despite the show’s scattered nature, Usher’s central message remained clear: he boasts a plethora of hits and reigns as the undisputed King of R&B. While not his pinnacle performance, it was still enjoyable and underscored his enduring star power. As “Yeah” closed the show with fervor, Usher and his cohorts transformed the stage into a glitzy football spectacle, complete with football-themed costumes, pole dancers, a marching band, and celebratory antics reminiscent of a championship victory.

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