From the infectious club classic “Yeah!” to the nostalgic single “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” Usher’s relevance in pop culture and our childhoods is timeless, in contrast to some public opinion. The news of his upcoming performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show was announced across the social media accounts of the NFL, Roc Nation, Apple Music and his own Sept. 24 and followed up by a flurry of comments.
Some perceive Usher as outdated and a "downgrade" from previous halftime performers to have graced the stage — Prince, Michael Jackson, Dr Dre & friends, Beyonce and Rihanna amongst those highly praised. On the other end of the spectrum, Usher fans and those alike remain enthusiastic about his ability to deliver a lively show enjoyable for all audiences.
Several big names, from Los Angeles Lakers player Lebron James to rapper and Roc Nation founder Jay-Z, have expressed their unwavering support for Usher. James reposted ESPN and SportsCenter’s announcement on his Instagram story with the caption, “AYYYYYYEEEEEE Let's Go!”. In a heartfelt statement, Jay-Z said, “Beyond his flawless singing and exceptional choreography, Usher bares his soul. His remarkable journey has propelled him to one of the grandest stages in the world. I can't wait to see the magic.”
Super Bowl headliners have traditionally derived from the genres of rock and pop, with hip-hop and rap spotlighted for the first time during the 2022 halftime show that featured Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent. Past R&B halftime performers include Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Beyonce and Destiny’s Child.
The 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show will be Usher's second time on the Super Bowl stage, as he performed his hit song, “OMG,” alongside Will.i.am, who headlined with other members of the hip-hop musical group Black Eyed Peas in 2011. Of course, this year is like no other, with millions tuning in as he joins the brief list of R&B stars to take center stage.
To those unfamiliar with his path to the Super Bowl LVIII stage, here is a closer look into Usher’s rise to fame.
The singer's musical background traces back to his youth, where he actively sang in church choirs. By entering talent shows, Usher connected with the mainstream music industry, eventually moving to Atlanta and securing a recording contract with LaFace Records two years later.
After its 1994 release, Usher's self-titled first album, Usher, was not considered a commercial success. However, it was followed by his sophomore work My Way in 1997, which instilled his status as one of R&B's brightest. Within this period of his new-found fame, Usher established his dynamic presence beyond buttery smooth vocals through onstage performances as he celebrated his musical success with a world tour.
Usher’s third studio album, "8701," released in 2001, captures the essence of classic 2000s R&B while integrating aspects of pop and hip-hop. It offers a creative contrast from his previous albums, broadening his range with memorable bops that intertwine the best of the two genres.
Though his beginnings solidified his place in the music industry as a hit-maker, Usher’s fourth album, "Confessions," was hailed as his best studio album and is arguably his most influential work. The album left an indent in the R&B sphere and drove Usher to further venture outside the familiarity of his comfort genre through a collaboration with rappers Lil Jon and Ludacris on “Yeah!”. Employing a story-telling structure, Usher uses "Confessions" as a vulnerable space, exploring the topics of infidelity, joy, heartbreak, and forgiveness within his tracks.
In an announcement video posted across social media, Usher promises a historic halftime performance. “It’s an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my list. I can't wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they've seen from me before,” said the singer.
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