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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Usher’s star-studded Super Bowl halftime show brought the world to Atlanta

Ushers halftime performance at Super Bowl 58 featured some of his best-known collaborators and attracted a record number of viewers.
Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons
Usher’s halftime performance at Super Bowl 58 featured some of his best-known collaborators and attracted a record number of viewers.

“I turned the world to the A.” 

At halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, it was the chant heard around the world, closing Usher’s halftime show as it became the most viewed Super Bowl halftime performance to date.

Usher’s performance at the 58th Super Bowl has had critics, fans and football viewers alike buzzing since the game on Feb. 11. Garnering over 123 million viewers, according to Billboard, the halftime show’s ratings surpassed those for past halftime shows by artists including Rihanna, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay. 

Excitement leading up to the 13-minute performance at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was apparent across social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, as fans made predictions about the set list, other featured artists and overall production of the show. 

Some fans theorized that Justin Beiber would make an appearance, as the two artists have done chart-topping collaborations throughout their careers. Usher later revealed that although Bieber declined to perform as part of the halftime show, other collaborators would be coming, according to Page Six

The halftime performance won largely positive reviews from media sources including the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and Pitchfork. The latter praised the R&B star’s command of the show as the “center of attention” amid all of the choreography, props, and costuming. 

Guilford sophomore Ava Alexander-Beck is among those who watched.  “I did like the show, especially the costuming,” she said. “They had a really good crew because it didn’t seem like anything went wrong from a performance standpoint.” 

Jaylin Baker, a first-year student and music minor at Guilford, would have liked to see even more from Usher, known as the “King of R&B” among his fans. 

“Honestly, I loved the performance because growing up, Usher was very popular in music and you knew who he was,” Baker said. “I wished he made the performance a little longer; it seemed very short to me.” 

Usher led the performance with an opening melody of “Caught Up,” his 2004 hit. He then moved into “U Don’t Have to Call,” an R&B staple, before pausing and taking a moment to thank God and his mother. 

Although Bieber did not make an appearance, some of pop culture’s favorite artists joined him on the stage. Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R., Ludacris, and Lil Jon all performed their collaborations with Usher.

Keys appeared in a glamorous red cape and sequined bodysuit to match Usher’s white sequined outfit, one of many that Usher would quickly change into throughout the course of the show. From there they sang a rendition of their R&B collaboration, “My Boo,” sending the internet into a frenzy. 

Another memorable and striking part of the night was the R&B and pop artist H.E.R. entering the stage wielding an electric guitar. This part of the show added an entertaining element as viewers watched her perform a well-executed solo, bringing in the next segment of the show.

Each song highlighted decades of his career and success as Usher performed music ranging from R&B, pop, electronic dance music and hip hop. Each song transition also incorporated homages to his beginnings in Atlanta, a theme he played upon throughout the entire show. 

At one point, he appeared from backstage in roller skates with his backup dancers, an obvious shoutout to Atlanta roller-rink culture. Three of the five featured artists he brought with him to share the spotlight – Lil Jon, Dupri, and Ludacris – have strong ties to the Atlanta rap and R&B scene. 

Choreography and dance were both major elements of the show’s success, as Usher danced alongside his backup dancers for almost the entirety of the 13-minute show. He performed intricate choreography to engage the audience and transition between songs. 

The finale of the jam-packed show included all artists coming together on the stage to sing and dance to the song “Yeah!” Dancers, featured artists, and Usher’s band all gathered around him to give his final statement of the night. 

Usher’s chant, “I turned the world to the A” was a nod to Atlanta and his success as an artist. A fitting way to leave the stage. 


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