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Usher Celebrates Black Artists During Super Bowl 58’s Halftime Show

Usher+Celebrates+Black+Artists+During+Super+Bowl+58s+Halftime+Show

On September 24, 2023, the National Football League announced the 2024 Super Bowl halftime performer: Usher. Usher has had an incredible career over the past three decades and he is currently an eight-time Grammy winner and has had 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, with 18 of them being top ten hits, and nine of those being number one hits.  

Theories arose around who would be a guest performer since he has been collaborating with artists since 2004. Usher’s first collaboration was the infamous song “Yeah!” with Lil Jon and Ludacris. Since then, he has worked with some amazing names including A$AP Rocky, Pitbull, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Pharrell Williams, DJ Khaled, 21 Savage, and Drake. 

After Usher was announced as the halftime show artist, he was interviewed by Good Morning America about his hopes for the show saying that he hopes to honor Black artists. “It’s a major thing to think about what our country has represented for black artists,” says Usher.  

Usher’s effort to include a wide range of black artists from back-up dancers, to the Jackson State Marching Band, and of course the singers, made the Super Bowl Halftime Show one to remember.  

The resemblance is uncanny between the Lat Rats and Usher preforming at the half time show. Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.

The Performance: 

From the start of the performance, many did not have high expectations since there was no sign of a stage and the entrance wasn’t as grand as Rihanna’s last year, when she was suspended on a glass floor above the arena. People were allowed on the field, and it just looked like chaos. His first song was “Caught Up,” which quickly transitioned into “Situations.” If you didn’t know any of these songs, don’t worry – you weren’t alone.  

The stage magically appeared during Usher’s third song, “In This Club,” and the Jackson State Marching Band came into view in front of the stage providing amazing backups to the song.  

Everything came to a halt when Alicia Keys started playing “Ain’t Got Nothing on You” on a sleek bright red piano with a matching corset dress and a flowing cape. It was truly a beautiful performance, and I’m so glad that she had her own moment. 

Usher then joined Alicia Keys on stage to sing “My Boo” and (to the surprise of many viewers) danced very closely with her. This was a shock because both singers are married to different people. 

Alicia Keys doesn’t pass up her moment to shine wearing a Swarovski crystal-encrusted Dolce & Gabanna catsuit. Photo courtesy of CNN

The costume changes could not have come soon enough because the jacket that covered Usher’s beautiful custom Dolce & Gabbana shirt was extremely bland – not even the broach could save it. I did, however, like the gloves he chose to wear, but just as quickly as I saw them, they came off.  

The visuals, especially the clock on the stage during “Confessions pt. 2,” really added to the performance as did the lights in the crowd.  

Everything happened so fast when H.E.R and an all-black roller-skating group skated out in what looked like Lab Rats Elite Force costumes. Of course, Usher had to join them, skating in with a matching outfit and ended the show in the blue and black sparkling outfit.  

Ending the night, Lil John crowd surfed in singing “Turn Down for What,” eventually making it onto the stage. After that, Ludacris walked on and for the finale where Usher, of course, ended with what started it all: his first big hit, “Yeah.”  

My Thoughts: 

Honestly, there is a big difference between this and last year’s, making me appreciate how they tailor each halftime show to what the artist’s style is. With Usher’s performance, however, I would have appreciated him spending more time singing more of his popular songs, and not glossing over them as easily as he did.  

Before understanding what Usher wanted to accomplish with this halftime show, I was disappointed with the costumes and the effects, hoping for fireworks or crazy lights. Knowing now that Usher wanted to put the view more on the performers themselves to celebrate them, I think he made the right choice, adding his own flare to the show. 

I loved how Alicia Keys had a beautiful moment that no one took away from and how each performer stayed true to their style throughout the show, with Lil Jon crowd surfing, and the outfits each artist wore.  

The only issue I had was everything moved too fast. I especially wish we stayed on “Yeah” and “In This Club” longer.  

Conclusion: 

Artists almost never accept the challenge of creating a whole halftime show for the money. It’s always about the publicity. Days before his Super Bowl performance, Usher released “Coming Home,” his first new album in eight years. Usher said to Good Morning America that, “It’s a love letter in some kind of way and a reminder that no matter how far you may go, you will eventually find your way back home.”  

Most artists bank on the Super Bowl to grow their popularity, so to announce a new album or a tour is not uncommon. 

All in all, this halftime show was a collaboration and celebration of artists, not just a show being put on around Usher. You could see each artist interacting and enjoying themselves, especially during the finale. Usher really had an amazing vision for this Halftime Show. I cannot wait for next year’s show! 

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About the Contributor
Arianna Hernandez, Staff Reporter
Arianna is the sportswriter for Fallston High School’s The Print. Being a three-season athlete, she is practically born for this role. Arianna runs cross country, swims, and hurdles in the spring. During the summer, Arianna was graced with Taylor Swift’s presence, especially with her bonus song, “The Story of Us.” Other than concerts, Arianna worked as a Head Lifeguard all summer and volunteered at the famous Tabitha’s House. Arianna is a part of a variety of honors societies and is a part of Girls Who Code and the Robotics Club at Fallston. 
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