- Usher previously joined former headliners The Black Eyed Peas for the 2011 Super Bowl
- This show at the game between the Chiefs and the 49ers marks his first stint as the sole headliner
- The 45-year-old singer teased multiple guests artists, with Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Lil John and Ludacris joining
Usher took to the stage for the halftime show at Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, which takes place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, pitting the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 45-year-old R&B was putting on a major showcase of his decades of hits, even as fellow music superstar Taylor Swift threatened to steal the spotlight from her celebrity-filled VIP box as she cheered on her boyfriend, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
But Usher nearly derailed the performance when he came out on roller skates and almost took a tumble while zooming around the stage and trying to skate under Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am’s legs.
The legendary sex symbol — who was joined by stars including Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Lil John, Ludacris, will.i.am and Jermaine Dupri — course corrected by giving the fans what they wanted and stripping off his shirt to showcased his impressive abs.
Usher opened the show on a high note with a super-short excerpt of his song Caught Up, from his hit 2004 album Confessions, followed by U Don’t Have To Call and his hit Love In This Club.
It was previously reported that Alicia Keys would be joining Usher, and she didn’t disappoint. The songstress appeared in a sizzling red sequined bodysuit to accompany her sinuous red piano.
Lil John and Ludacris weren’t far behind when they jumped in to accompany Usher for Yeah!, his mega hit from 2004, and H.E.R. accompanied him with her shredding guitar work.
Usher opened his performance in an opulent white overcoat draped over his shoulders that was decorated with silver-sequined designs.
He quickly shed it thanks to some backup dancers to reveal his smaller white cropped jacket, which he paired with brilliant white pants.
He was joined by numerous male and female backup dancers, though there didn’t appear to be any clear theme to their first set of costumes.
Some of them seemed to be dressed as circus performers, and one male dancer was seen being launched in the air from one side of the stage to the other, as if he had been fired out of a cannon.
He switched into a slow jam mode with his second song U Don’t Have To Call, followed by an energizing rendition of Superstar and a rocking version of Love In This Club.
Alicia Keys made her appearance by first tickling the ivories at her flowing red space-age piano.
She glittered in the night air with her sizzling red bodysuit that was decorated with sequins. The look featured a sheer top and sleeves, while it included a darker red corset-style midriff.
Usher, who wore a single bejeweled glove, possibly as a tribute to Michael Jackson, looked affectionate and wrapped his arms around her.
Alicia got to shine solo with her song Ain’t Got You, which served as her introduction, before Usher rejoined her for their duet My Boo.
She left the piano and strutted around stage as she and the headliner traded verses on the romantic tune.
Usher was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his most enduring album, Confessions, which got a shoutout from Jermaine Dupri before the next section of the stage show.
He opened with a rapid-fire Confessions Part II, before sliding into the appropriately titled Nice & Slow.
The hitmaker, who had stripped down to his sleeveless silver-sequined shirt, made his Michael Jackson tribute even more explicit with his dance moves, which included some brief moon walking in the style of the late icon.
Quick version of Burn and Bad Girl followed, before Usher broke out his hit U Got It Bad, which featured a scene-stealing guitar solo from H.E.R.
Prince was previously cited as one of the artists Usher would be paying tribute to, and her fiery guitar work may have been an homage to the singer, who died in 2016, as he was also celebrated for his lead guitar chops.
H.E.R. sizzled in a black vinyl cat suit while rocking out on a crimson guitar and sporting dual buns reminiscent of Josie And The Pussycats.
During U Got It Bad, Usher took center stage by himself with just a microphone as she showcased her seemingly undiminished vocal abilities.
He got fans cheering even louder as he suddenly stripped off his shirt to reveal his muscular torso and ripped abs.
The image of the fit heartthrob shirtless with high-waisted white pants may have been a reference and tribute to Al Green, who sported the same look on the cover of his popular Greatest Hits album.
Many Usher fans were likely hoping he would play his monster hit Yeah!, and they weren’t disappointed when Lil John appeared to signal it was on the way.
However, the rapper got to introduce himself first with his own song Turn Down For What to hype up the audience.
Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am, who collaborated with Usher during the singer’s first appearance at a Super Bowl halftime show then rapped a verse as backup dancers in black-and-blue costumes began roller skating around the stage and doing impressive back flips.
Usher was able to impressively dance and sing while shooting around the stage on roller skates, but when he tried to skate between will.i.am’s legs he appeared to lose his balance and to fall on his backside before quickly getting up.
It was forgotten though when the headliner briefly left the stage to let Lil John get the crowd bouncing on its feet.
He remerged while shrouded in shadows as the instantly recognizable synthesizer sirens of Yeah! began to sound.
The song is also known for Ludacris’ rap verse, and he made a grand entrance in a black-and-blue leather outfit after Usher set the song up.
As the superstar group wrapped things up, the headlining star paid tribute to his adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, where the Dallas-born star — who had been living for several years in Chattanooga, Tennessee — moved with his family as a pre-teen to set himself up for success as a singer.
‘I taught the world to the A,’ he rapped a cappella as he and Ludacris — who also moved to Atlanta during his formative years — traded lines.
With the massive stage in the midst of the NFL’s final contest of the season, Usher followed in the footsteps of famed luminaries who previously headlined the halftime show, including the late Michael Jackson and Prince, as well as current superstars Rihanna, Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre.
Usher told reporters in Las Vegas on Thursday that he was looking to incorporate the past, present and future when he hits the stage in Sin City, according to the AP, while paying homage to the host city — where he has had a residency — and Atlanta, where he established himself as a leading force in the music industry.
‘It’s been a challenge to squeeze 30 years into 13 minutes,’ Usher said of planning the abbreviated performance, adding that he asked himself, ‘What songs do people know me for, what songs have been a celebration of all of the journey?’
Usher, a mentor to Justin Bieber earlier in the superstar’s career, implied Thursday that his show would feature guest appearances from artists who he has worked with in the past, as he said he’s ‘definitely gone through a lot of ideas’ as to who he ‘would have go through this moment with’ him.
Usher himself has been onstage for the halftime show, accompanying his OMG collaborator will.i.am (and the Black Eyed Peas) onstage in 2011 in Arlington, Texas, at Super Bowl XLV, saying he vividly recalled ‘how amazing it felt to be in front of that many people and feel the energy.’
‘Oddly enough, there was a moment that only I think I remember,’ he said Thursday. ‘My hand got caught in the wire that was holding me 30 feet in the air and I almost missed my first mark. I was like, “Oh my God. Don’t let this malfunction cause me to miss something.”‘
The hitmaker’s fans will get a chance to see his behind-the-scenes preparations for the Super Bowl, as he revealed that cameras for Apple Music have been following him at rehearsals and meetings to craft the high-profile performance.
‘There’s been a documentary crew that has been collecting all of the moments that have happened. There’s cameras around us at all times,’ he shared at an Apple Music press conference on Thursday.
Earlier performances at the Super Bowl included Reba McEntire’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, as well as an emotional performance of America The Beautiful from Post Malone, while Andra Day belted out Lift Every Voice and Sing.
The song, which was composed in 1900, was as the Black National Anthem more than a century ago.
Usher has released nine studio albums: 1994’s Usher, 1997’s My Way, 2001’s 8701, 2004’s Confessions, 2008’s Here I Stand, 2010’s Raymond v. Raymond, 2012’s Looking 4 Myself, 2016’s Hard II Love and this year’s Coming Home, which was released on Friday.
The Dallas native’s greatest professional success to date, both critically and commercially, came 20 years ago with the 2004 album Confessions, which spawned the hit signals Yeah!, Burn, Confessions Part II and My Boo, selling more than 10 million units domestically.
The album — which featured collaborations with Alicia Keys, Ludacris and Lil Jon — was a big winner at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards in 2005, as Usher took home three awards: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (for Yeah!), Best Contemporary R&B Album (for Confessions) and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (for My Boo).
The singer has had nine number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 to date with 1998’s Nice & Slow; 2001’s U Got It Bad and U Got It Bad; 2004’s Yeah!, Burn, Confessions Part II and My Boo; 2008’s Love in This Club and 2010’s OMG.
Yeah! proved to be one of his most enduring hits, and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 year-end list for 2004, and it ended up being the second-highest charting song on the chart’s decade list from 2000–2009.
In his personal life, the R&B staple, whose full name is Usher Raymond IV, has been married twice: to Tameka Foster, 53, from 2007 thru 2009; and to Grace Harry from 2015 to 2018.
He is father to four children: sons Usher ‘Cinco’ Raymond V, 16, and Naviyd Ely, 15, with Foster; and daughter Sovereign Bo, three, and son Sire Castrello, two, with girlfriend Jenn Goicoechea, 40.
Following the halftime show, Usher’s focus will be on his 24-city North American tour titled Past Present Future, which begins on August 20 at Washington D.C.’s Capital One Arena.
It’s set to conclude on October 29 at the United Center in Chicago. The tour will also feature stops in major cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and Toronto.