Super Bowl 2024: Usher promises to roller-skate during half-time performance

Usher on skates
Image caption,Usher learned to skate for his Las Vegas residency, which ran for 100 sold-out shows

R&B singer Usher has promised to roller-skate during his Super Bowl half-time show in Las Vegas.

He would recreate a skating sequence that had become a viral highlight of his recent Vegas residency, he said.

And the show would be a “crescendo” marking a “new beginning” in his 30-year career.

Previous Super Bowl half-time show performers include Katy Perry, Prince and Beyoncé.

But Usher will be the first independent artist to take the stage, having left his previous record label, RCA, to self-release his album, Coming Home, this weekend.

When and where can I see the show?

Usher will take to the stage midway through the Super Bowl.

The match started at 23:30 UK time (15:30 in Las Vegas). Depending on how the game progresses, half-time will be about an hour-and-a-half or two hours into the action. That puts Usher’s performance at around 01:00-01:30 UK time (17:00-17:30 in Las Vegas).

In the US, the match is being screened on CBS and streamed on Paramount+. Viewers in the UK can follow it on ITV1 and ITVX from 22:45.

If you don’t want to stay up and watch the concert live, the NFL typically puts the whole show on YouTube immediately after its broadcast, and Apple Music subscribers can watch it back in spatial audio.

San Francisco 49ers
Image caption,The San Francisco 49ers are favourites to win Sunday’s match

Hit records

Interviewed earlier this week by Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis, Usher ducked several questions about his setlist.

“It definitely has been a challenge to squeeze 30 years in to 13 minutes,” Usher said, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses.

He had been “very mindful of my past” and the “songs I feel people know me for”, as well as iconic dance routines from his career.

Asked about potential guest performers, Usher hinted he would be joined by singers who featured “on songs that became hit records”.

“That gave me the greatest point of reference,” said the singer, whose collaborators include Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Lil’ Jon.

Usher will play at the Allegiant Stadium, as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers.

He follows Rihanna, who performed the 2023 half-time show while pregnant, and 2022’s all-star team of Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J Blige, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.

Usher himself has previously appeared on the Super Bowl stage. As a special guest with the Black Eyed Peas, in 2011, he performed a breathtaking leap over, landing in the splits.

Country singer Reba McEntire will perform America’s national anthem. Post Malone will sing America the Beautiful. And Andra Day will conclude the pre-game concert with Lift Every Voice and Sing, often called the black national anthem. While dance musician Tiesto will be the Super Bowl’s first-ever in-game DJ.

Who is Usher?

Image caption,Usher has announced a new album and US tour to capitalise on his Super Bowl performance

Usher Raymond IV started singing in church in Tennessee at the age of nine. He joined a group called NuBeginning a year later and they recorded an album in 1991, which only came out after Usher hit the big time.

After the family moved to Atlanta, Usher was spotted at talent show and signed by LA Reid, the executive who also discovered TLC, Toni Braxton, and OutKast.

His first song, Call Me A Mack, appeared on the soundtrack to the Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson film Poetic Justice when he was just 15 years old, but his debut album, produced by P Diddy, tanked.

He tried again with producer Jermaine Dupri, who made his name working with Da Brat and Mariah Carey.

Together, they figured out a sound for Usher’s second album, My Way, that combined his buttery smooth tenor with stuttering, hip-hop beats that allowed him to show off his skills as a dancer.

The first single, You Make Me Wanna, was only held off the US number one spot by Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind, in 1997. The follow-up, Nice & Slow, made it to the top, and Usher never looked back.

Over the next decade, he sold 80 million records worldwide, won eight Grammy Awards and scored four consecutive US number ones – Yeah, Burn, Confessions Pt II and My Boo – which are all-but-guaranteed to feature in his Super Bowl performance.

The 2010s were less kind – the title of his eighth album Hard II Love was unintentionally prophetic – but his reputation as a dazzling live performer remained.

After a stint as a judge on The Voice, he launched a Las Vegas residency in 2022, culminating in 100 sold out shows and, ultimately, the Super Bowl.

Why is the Super Bowl half-time show so important?

Rihanna performs at the Super Bowl half-time show
Image caption,Rihanna revealed she was expecting her second child at last year’s half-time show

The Super Bowl is always the most-watched programme on US television – and the half-time show regularly pulls in more viewers than the match itself.

Rihanna got the biggest-ever audience in 2022, with 121 million people tuning in. Even when the bookings aren’t as stellar – like Maroon 5 in 2019 – the viewership has been close to 100 million.

The platform is so big that many performers, including Usher and Rihanna, play for no fee.

Not that Usher isn’t profiting from his appearance – he’s announced a new album and a US tour to coincide with his performance. Fans are already clamouring for UK dates.

Is Taylor Swift watching? caption,

Super Bowl 58: Taylor Swift conspiracy theories ‘nonsense’ – NFL boss Roger Goodell

It may have escaped your attention, because the media has barely mentioned it, but Taylor Swift if currently dating Kansas City player Travis Kelce.

She’s attended more than 10 of his games over the course of the season – and on Sunday she was spotted watching the game in the stands of Allegiant Stadium.

Her attendance at the Super Bowl had earlier been in doubt, because she played a concert in Tokyo the night before.

Asked about her plans, Kelce said earlier that Swift was “focused on entertaining the crowd” in Japan and “making sure she’s ready for her performances”.

“But the Super Bowl? We will just worry about if she can make it.”

Ahead of the game, the Japanese Embassy in Washington weighed in on the question – saying that, due to the time difference between the US and Japan, Swift could make the 12-hour flight and “comfortably arrive in Las Vegas before the Super Bowl begins”.

Meanwhile, right-wing conspiracy theorists have claimed the Super Bowl has been “rigged” in order to help Swift (who has endorsed Democratic politicians) and Kelce (who appeared in ads for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine) clinch victory for Joe Biden in the forthcoming US presidential election.

The claims have been shot down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who said: “The idea that this is within a script, this is pre-planned, is just nonsense.”

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