Usher delivered a hit-heavy half-time show at Sunday’s Super Bowl – with help from special guests will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Ludacris and Lil Jon.
A disclaimer shown before the performance jokingly warned viewers it would feature “singing, dancing, sweating, gyrating, and possible relationship issues”. It went on to deliver on all fronts.
Dressed in all-white and surrounded by a swarm of energetic dancers, Usher emerged on the stage at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and launched straight into one of his best-known songs, Caught Up.
It kicked off a dynamic performance which took advantage of Usher’s dancing skills as much as his sizeable back catalogue.
Before his half-time show, Usher admitted it had been “a challenge to squeeze 30 years in to 13 minutes”. But the R&B star did an admirable job of cramming in as many of his most recognisable songs as possible.
The star switched effortlessly between the two apexes of his music: club anthems and sex jams.
Once he was a few songs deep and well into his groove, Usher took a back seat as Alicia Keys appeared behind a bright red piano wearing an equally bright red outfit, launching into one of her own biggest hits If I Ain’t Got You.
The pair then joined forces to perform their duet My Boo.
The combination of ballads and club anthems gave Usher moments to catch his breath and show off his vocal prowess.
But even when performing one of his most famous slow jams, U Got It Bad, Usher couldn’t stand still – jerking his body to the rhythm as he performed on a circular platform which displayed the projection of a clock face.
It wasn’t long before his first costume change and second special guest. Dressed in a sparkly black-and-blue outfit, he introduced will.i.am for their collaboration OMG – a song title which reflected the crowd’s reaction.
The highlight of the set, however, was saved until the end – when the singer was joined by Ludacris and Lil Jon for a pulsing rendition of his 2004 smash Yeah!
Usher somehow also found time to recreate a skating sequence which had become a viral highlight of his recent Vegas residency.
But there was another A-lister in the stadium who received a lot of screen time at the Super Bowl.
Throughout the game, cameras regularly cut to Taylor Swift, who was there to support her Kansas City Chiefs boyfriend Travis Kelce.
The pair’s romance has been credited with generating greater global interest in the National Football League (NFL), particularly from women.
Fans had speculated about whether Swift would make it at all- the singer was in Tokyo the night before playing a concert as part of her Eras Tour.
But in the event, she made it to Las Vegas in plenty of time to see the Chiefs face off against the San Francisco 49ers.
The US megastar wore an all-black outfit and watched the game alongside actress Blake Lively, rapper Ice Spice, and her mother Andrea Swift.
The 34-year-old was seen talking to the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, while Kelce’s mother Donna was also sitting in the box,
She wasn’t the only A-lister in attendance, rapper Jay-Z, actor Paul Rudd and former basketball players LeBron and James Shaquille O’Neal were all seen during the game.
Which songs did Usher perform?
- Caught Up
- U Don’t Have To Call
- Love in this Club
- If I Ain’t Got You – duet with Alicia Keys
- My Boo – duet with Alicia Keys
- Confessions Part II feat. Jermaine Dupri
- U Got It Bad
- Bad Girl (interlude)
- OMG – duet with will.iam
- Turn Down For What – performed by Lil Jon
- Yeah! – feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris
Sunday’s performance was not Usher’s first appearance at the Super Bowl – the singer previously appeared as a special guest with the Black Eyed Peas in 2011.
His return to the NFL helpfully coincides with the release of his latest album Coming Home over the weekend.