The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers may have had a fierce showdown with Super Bowl LVIII, but make no mistake about it—the biggest star of the night was Usher, whose thrilling halftime show sent the message that after 30 years in the business, the singer is still the undisputed King of R&B. The 45-year-old artist, who released his ninth studio album, Coming Home, just days before the performance, drew on his three-decade career to deliver a show that reaffirmed that Usher is truly an unparalleled performer.
The singer, who just wrapped up a sold-out 100-show Las Vegas residency (which was so popular, it got extended twice), put on a flashy performance of epic proportions that included a number of surprises, including Usher dancing on roller skates, a marching band that spelled out his name, and surprise appearances from collaborators like Jermaine Dupri, Lil Jon, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, will.i.am, and H.E.R.
Read more: The Enduring Appeal of Usher
Ahead of the performance, Usher acknowledged that his sizable body of work and many years in the music industry made it tough to come up with a set list that could encapsulate his career in just 13 minutes on the Super Bowl halftime show stage.
"I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present, which is here in Las Vegas, and thinking about where we are headed in the future,” he said in an Apple Music press conference leading up to the performance. "“What songs do people know me for? What songs have been a celebration of [my career]? That was the idea.”
Here are the highlights from Usher's Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.
What songs did Usher perform?
Usher drew on the broad range of his discography by performing an extensive medley consisting of 11 songs. He opened the show by dancing on the field with an ensemble of acrobatic dancers, while singing his 2004 hit, "Caught Up," before transitioning into his song "U Don't Have to Call." Later, when he moved to the stage, he sang "Superstar" before breaking into his dance anthem, "Love in This Club," which he performed while doing the moonwalk. He followed that with a duet of "My Boo" with Alicia Keys, before moving into the ballad section of the performance, where he sang beloved tracks like "Confessions," "Burn," and "U Got It Bad." Singer H.E.R., who has a song, "Risk It All," with Usher that appears on his new album, Coming Home, performed a guitar solo during the performance of "Bad Girl," while will.i.am showed up to sing "OMG." Usher closed out his standout show with a rousing performance of "Yeah!" alongside longtime collaborators Ludacris and Lil Jon.
Who did Usher bring out during the halftime show?
When it came to guest performers, Usher drew on the wealth of collaborations he's had over the course of his long career. His first guest performer of the night was Alicia Keys, who appeared on the stage in a sparkling all-red ensemble, playing a matching red grand piano and singing her 2003 song, "If I Ain't Got You," before joining Usher for a romantic duet of "My Boo." Later, Usher's longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri made a cameo, before H.E.R. performed a guitar solo for "U Got It Bad" and "Bad Girl." Rapper will.i.am joined Usher on stage for a memorable performance of "OMG," that ended with Usher skating through will.i.am's legs. The final guest performances of the night were Ludacris and Lil Jon, two fellow Atlanta legends, who showed up and showed out for a triumphant rendition of "Yeah!"
Usher’s show also paid tribute to HBCUs and Black college culture. Sonic Boom of the South, Jackson State University’s marching band, played on the field for the entirety of the performance, while members of Kappa Alpha Psi, a Black fraternity, danced alongside Usher on stage.
What did Usher wear during his performance?
While Usher wore a white bejeweled suit by Dolce & Gabbana to begin the performance, he later shed the outfit, piece by piece, until he performed his song "U Got It Bad," shirtless, surely to the delight of many attendees at the Super Bowl arena and audiences at home. For his second outfit of the night, Usher donned a glittery black and royal blue Off-White motocross outfit adorned with 340,000 crystals, which he wore to dance while roller skating, before changing into a pair of custom chrome Air Jordan 4s by the Shoe Surgeon.
How did fans respond to his performance online?
Online, fans watching Usher's performance were enthralled by the show. Writer Hunter Harris, who profiled Usher, aptly summed up what many were feeling, tweeting that "we are all Keke Palmer tonight," in reference to the viral moment that took place this summer when Palmer was filmed enjoying herself at Usher's Las Vegas residency.
Music critic Lindsay Zoladz applauded the performance on Twitter, with the sentiment: "That's entertainment!"
However, the best review of the night may have come from actor Danny DeVito, who took to Twitter to give Usher his flowers.
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