We are not ‘fallin’ in love’ with Usher’s halftime performance

When I heard that Usher was going to be performing at this year’s Super Bowl, I was ecstatic. Seven-year-old me was obsessed with his 2010 hit, “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love,” and who hasn’t gone wild at a party when “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris came on?

However, Usher’s performance for Super Bowl LVIII was underwhelming. The fact that he didn’t bring Justin Bieber up to sing “Somebody to Love” says it all.

Coming out in an all-white suit and bedazzled cape, he began with his 2004 single, “Caught Up.” Dancers and acrobats surrounded him as he sang, with amazing tricks and costumes to his left and right.

The all-white outfit was a great choice, making him stand out amongst all the colors. He followed with “You Don’t Have to Call” and “Spotlight.” At this point, he was on stage by himself, lit only by a — you guessed it — spotlight. During this song, he took off only one of his white gloves, perhaps an homage to late pop star Michael Jackson.

A marching band was then lit up, their tune leading into the 2008 classic, “Love in this Club.” The use of such a large brass section was actually a wonderful touch, and they even showed off some dance moves. 

As the song fizzled out, Usher pointed to the other side of the stage, where Alicia Keys was waiting on a huge red piano, an enormous red cape flowing behind her. 

She wore a heavily bedazzled red gown and smaller cape, singing the prelude to “If I Ain’t Got You.” It was not her greatest live performance, but still enjoyable. 

Usher joined her at the piano as the song ended. The two then began a very handsy duet of “My Boo.” While this is a romantic song, the two singers are married to different people, making for an uncomfortable response from viewers. The singing itself was not terrific either, as a few notes seemed to prove difficult for Keys.

Following this duet was “Confessions,” where Usher stood in the middle of a circular stage with a projection of a clock and danced by himself. I will say, he has always been an excellent dancer.

Usher performed with Alicia Keys at the NFL halftime show. Photo courtesy of @NFL, Instagrm

He then performed “Nice & Slow” and “Burn” in this same spot but got rid of everything but his pants and singular glove — more than likely to make his next costume change a little quicker. Transitioning into “U Got It Bad,” singer-songwriter H.E.R. made an appearance in a super cool leather outfit. 

As Usher left the stage to change, she blessed the crowd with an outstanding guitar solo. She began the song, “Bad Girl,” as dancers on roller skates emerged from the dark. Usher returned shortly, also on roller skates, in a sparkling black and blue piece. 

The dancers here were absolutely mesmerizing. The moves they were doing were so awesome, and to do them on roller skates was impressive. What made this part of the show even better was the shift into “OMG” featuring will.i.am.

Usher literally slid through will.i.am’s legs as “Turn Down for What” started playing, and here’s where the crowd started getting really excited.

Lil Jon appeared in the crowd, lifted by those surrounding the stage. This song did not last long though, as Ludacris came out and all three men started performing arguably one of the best songs of the 2000s — “Yeah!”

It was revealed during this song that the marching band was in a formation that spelled out “Usher.” The dancing, lights and singing were all amazing here. This was a good song to end on, but with no emergence of Bieber, it was hard to think it was coming to an end. 

I really wish there were some more fast-paced and upbeat songs performed. I don’t think certain songs had to be included, like “Nice & Slow” or “You Don’t Have to Call.” I believe “Scream” or “I Don’t Mind” would have been better choices.

Even though the singer is not as popular these days, he does have a great voice and a smashing stage presence. Definitely not the best halftime show we’ve ever seen, but certainly not the worst.

3/5 stars




Featured photo courtesy of @usher, Instagram