Usher's Super Bowl Halftime Show Could Be the Best in History | Westword

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Usher's Halftime Show Could Be the Best in History

You can see him in Denver in September, but this was the performance to remember.
Usher plays Ball Arena on Tuesday, September 17.
Usher plays Ball Arena on Tuesday, September 17. Bellamy Brewster
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It was agreed upon before the show was over: Usher's halftime performance was one of the best — if not the best — in Super Bowl history...aside from Prince, obviously.*

Thankfully, it won't be long before we see more from Usher. The heartthrob, who released his album Coming Home the same day as his Super Bowl performance, is taking off on tour this summer; Usher will be at Ball Arena on Tuesday, September 17, and Wednesday, September 18. Tickets go on sale Monday, February 12, at

Some incredibly misguided people had their doubts when the multi-platinum, eight-time Grammy winner was announced as the halftime artist for America's biggest football event, even though he was coming off a sold-out Las Vegas residency. But Usher went on to prove himself as a historic R&B icon. (The man also has the ability to transform a simple living room into a sauna. That "Let It Burn"?)

But it wasn't just the star-powered appearances from Lil' Jon and Ludacris for "Yeah!" or Alicia Keys for "My Boo" that made the show such a unique Super Bowl performance: Usher actually seemed to be...singing? Where most artists opt for lip-syncing, Usher appeared to be using live vocals for the majority of the show. Sure, a friend commented, "he would sound better if he wasn't" — but that's some welcome authenticity in an often copped-out performance.

Usher began on the field with "My Way," moving into "Caught Up," the fifth single from his 2004 album Confessions, a Grammy winner. It was almost an homage to Michael Jackson — with the white suit and gloves, the moonwalking. Then there was "Love in This Club," a wash of nostalgia. After "U Don't Have to Call" and "Super Star," things started heating up with "If I Ain't Got You" and "My Boo," when none other than the effervescent Alicia Keys was unfurled from a red scarf, singing at a red, mermaid-tail piano. After that embrace with Usher, Swizz Beatz must be quaking.

Then there was "Let It Burn," the highlight of the show — and not just because when he took his shirt off, practically everyone in the room lost their minds. There was Usher, dancing on roller skates in an outfit evoking an R&B power ranger in extremely expensive Nikes. It's honestly something you never thought you'd see this year, but it's as welcome as an oasis in the desert or a joint after a hangover.

It seemed like it couldn't get better until you heard the easily identifiable voice of Lil' Jon, because who else could yell "Turn down for what?" without getting punched in the face? Of course, we were expecting the inimitable rapper to show up, because who would expect Usher to perform the Super Bowl without singing "Yeah!"? And then fucking Ludacris comes out in football pads. This is when my friend, who actually was at the Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime show, declared: "This is the best halftime show I have seen."

*As many readers pointed out, Prince's performance at the 2007 halftime show was the absolute top, but we were too overcome by the rollerskates to recall for a moment.

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