Usher's Super Bowl halftime performance was tumultuous, but it established his R&B legend.

Usher’s Super Bowl halftime performance was tumultuous, but it established his R&B legend.

Usher didn’t have much to prove going into the Super Bowl Halftime Show; in a career spanning three decades, he’s managed to cultivate a significant amount of goodwill and, in recent years, a resurgence in cultural relevancy, thanks to a hugely successful and sexy Las Vegas residency. (Also a highly viral lo-fi moment.)
Nonetheless, being chosen to headline the event may be tantamount to achieving an EGOT for any music singer, and Usher embraced it on Sunday evening as a hard-earned capstone to his history.

“They said I wouldn’t make it, they said I wouldn’t be here today, but I am,” he said early in his exuberant performance, before calling out his mother. Anyone who has been a fan of his since “My Way” and “U Make Me Wanna” couldn’t help but be happy about this moment.
The “rated U” performance (per Apple Music) was undoubtedly disorganized and rushed for the most of its duration. The first song, “Caught Up,” saw him channeling the flamboyant vibes of Vegas, complete with a (over)abundance of background performers: feathered women, acrobats, stilt walkers, and so on. Usher stood out, if only because of his stunning all-white and glittery outfit, but the camera editing was chaotic and appeared to divert attention away from the star out of the gate. (The singing and sound mixing also left much to be desired.)
What followed was simply a montage of his extensive repertoire, which often flew by too rapidly – a single line from “Superstar” here, a little taste of “Nice and Slow” there. The medley was at its finest when he gave us a chance to enjoy his slick, swaggering dance and spend some time with a song, as he did with his famous ballad “U Got It Bad.” (At this point, he removed his shirt, allowing the vocals to shine, and bringing out H.E.R. to shred on the guitar solo. Magic.)
As previously said, several of Usher’s renowned colleagues were also on hand to demonstrate his credentials. Alicia Keys, singing a part of her solo smash “If I Ain’t Got You” and their duet “My Boo”; Jermaine Dupri for “Confessions (Part II)”; Will.I.Am for “OMG”; and Lil Jon and Ludacris for “Yeah,” the obvious choice for the finale.
Even if the concert was a little disjointed, Usher’s main argument remains: the guy has a lot of songs and no serious rival to his current reign as King of R&B. (Most of us think that the less mentioned about his EDM heyday, the better.) It wasn’t his finest performance, but it was still enjoyable and a tribute to his star status. As “Yeah” brought the show to a rousing conclusion, Usher and co. had already transformed the aesthetic theme to that of a glitzy football game, with football-themed costumes, dancers winding on poles, a marching band, and the chorus jumping up and down, puffing their chests as if they’d just won the trophy.
“I took the world to the A,” he said many times, referring to the city where he spent much of his formative years as a youngster. Indeed.

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