Coming off of a powerful 100-show Las Vegas residency and the Friday launch of his new album, Coming House, Usher lastly stepped as much as the primary stage on Sunday for his long-awaited Tremendous Bowl LVIII halftime efficiency. It’s been three decades since Usher’s self-titled debut album, and, after a lifetime of hitmaking with the most important and greatest within the business, the world was ready to see not solely which songs the R&B legend would carry out, but in addition what particular friends he would deliver out.
The Atlanta-born crooner promised Vogue that R&B would “take the primary stage,” and it was a provided that, on the very least, he would deliver out the collaborators of his hottest hit, “Yeah!”, Lil Jon and Ludacris. However that didn’t cease followers from speculating about his different, yet-to-be-revealed friends: Would they embrace the Grammys’ most up-to-date Greatest New Artist Victoria Monét? Would Usher give Janet Jackson a moment of redemption? Or, perhaps, contemplating the truth that Taylor Swift could be in attendance to assist her beau—Kansas Metropolis Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce—would the country-pop princess hop on stage for a style crossover? However the potential visitor that had everybody hopeful was Usher’s protégé, Justin Bieber, whom Usher famously ushered from YouTube virality to pop stardom; in actual fact, TMZ even reported that the 2 have been in talks for a particular tag-team second through the massive sport.
To the frustration of Beliebers all over the place, that particular reunion didn’t find yourself materializing. As an alternative, true to his phrase, Usher served us an excellent evening of R&B, with particular appearances from H.E.R. for “Unhealthy Woman” and, naturally, Alicia Keys for “My Boo.” After all, Lil Jon and Ludacris popped up for “Yeah!”; Jermaine Dupri—Usher’s mentor and legendary R&B and hip-hop producer—had his second within the highlight; Black Eyed Pea will.i.am joined for “OMG.”
Because it seems, the shortage of the Biebz left room for one thing way more significant on Sunday evening: a wonderful showcase of some main touchstones inside Black music and tradition—particularly, the Black Atlantan scene of the early 2000s. Apart from the circus-themed spectacular that opened the present—full with a dancer on stilts—the 13-minute present felt like one thing straight from an Atlanta nightclub. After an electrical embrace with Alicia Keys, Usher’s efficiency changed into one thing harking back to a campus home social gathering. There have been dancers doing actions impressed by Black collegiate life—like the favored shoulder-shimmying dance referred to as strolling, with canes that the members of the Black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi are recognized for—and marching bands spelling out Usher’s title on the sphere. Positive, Black Greek life and marching bands have a big affect at traditionally Black schools and universities throughout the nation, however the South, particularly Atlanta, is thought for its homecomings being the hotbed of Black Greek tradition and a premier stage for extravagant marching band performances. In truth, there’s even a 2002 film about this specific spectacle of Atlantan college tradition: Drumline starring Nick Cannon.
Usher then doubled the Southern bother with different references to life in his hometown, together with pole dancers within the background as a nod to the historic Atlanta strip-club scene, in addition to an thrilling second of Usher rollerblading alongside a bunch of background dancers on skates doing tips. Curler rinks are an necessary a part of Atlantan tradition, maybe most captured by the 2006 movie ATL, a coming-of-age film starring rapper T.I., wherein the motion is centered across the native curler skating rink.
By the ultimate tune—an ideal rendition of “Yeah!” delivered alongside Lil Jon and Ludacris—the singer had taken us on what felt like a journey by means of totally different realms each unbelievable and extra down-to-earth, from the circus to the membership to even, I dare say, the world of Tron, when he popped up in a sparkly, futuristic, blue-and-black Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle–esque outfit that confirmed off his abs. However, much more fittingly, Usher pulled off his grand feat of taking “the world to the A,” as he chanted onstage—a transferring homage to his musical and geographic roots, as sentimental because it was boppin’.