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A Super Performance

A Recap of Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance

At this year's Super Bowl, the halftime show was performed by artist Usher Raymond. The performance was eye-catching, keeping the audience at the edge of their seats with excitement as he was packing 13 career-spanning songs into 13 breathless minutes.

Usher was drenched in sweat just two minutes into the 13-minute set, having kicked it off with “Caught Up,” a highlight off his 2004 album, “Confessions. Then came a flashy marching band, somersaulting chorus girls and  feathered boa fans. The number was flashy with a very  high-energy. Usher kept the energy up as he transitioned into two more up-beat tracks, “U Don’t Have to Call” and “Love in This Club.” This part of the performance had so much happening at once, with a “circus-y” sensory overload that, along with a few sound issues, threatened to distract from its main star’s fancy footwork and vocals.

The following act was less pulsing and centered more on the music, a collection of early-eighties gems ginned up with assists from several of Usher’s collaborators from over the years. As the rush of “Love in This Club” faded, the camera cut to Alicia Keys, who was dressed in a blood-red gem-covered catsuit as she sang her hit “If I Ain’t Got You” seated at a matching red piano. Usher appeared, harmonizing with her perfectly, his Dolce & Gabbana blazer now peeled off to unveil that sleeveless top, which he paired with a single crystal-studded glove in tribute to Micheal Jackson. They quickly transitioned to their duet, “My Boo,” Keys rising and strutting with Usher down the stage.

For the next part of the show the stage transformed into a giant clock, a clip lifted from the “Where was Usher at 7 o'clock" meme playing over some ticking  as the artist’s shadow landed at the exact second he sang the opening line of “Nice & Slow.” But it was over before it really started. The clock projection was replaced with flames, engulfing him as he launched into “Burn,” urging the audience to sing along.

This is the part where Usher shined, now sporting a sparkly black-and-blue outfit and treating the stage like his personal VIP section. He played “OMG,” featuring The city of Atlanta is a magnetic character in Usher’s Vegas act and figured prominently and effectively in his halftime show, A-town stomps and all. Seeing stripper poles planted across the field highlighted the fact that Usher’s catalog works in multiple venues, whether it be nightclubs, bedrooms or after-hours spots.

13 minutes is simply too short for a true greatest hits selection, which meant no “U Remind Me,” “Lovers & Friends” or “Climax.” The night became all the more amped by the emergence of Lil Jon and Ludacris, repping for all the millennial club girls sporting Going Out tops, sipping Smirnoff Ice to the soundtrack of Crunk & B. “Yeah!” was a fitting finale to the show, Usher’s biggest single off his highest-selling album, “Confessions,” the era-defining masterpiece that made him the last Black artist to be certified diamond for selling 10 million copies in the United States.

Usher's performance at the Super Bowl was no less than spectacular. With the dazzling and eye-catching performance of the upbeat music, the performance had the audience wanting more and gave them just the right amount of energy before returning to the second half of the game.


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Andy Poll

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