PUTTING THE ‘U’ IN SUPER BOWL

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“Hell no, I can’t give Usher no advice. Usher is a natural, he’s a legend, he’s been doing this since he’s a teenager. He is made for that show.”

Rihanna, Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Headliner

While the NFL title between the 49ers and the Chiefs has yet to be decided this Sunday, the Super Bowl LVIII is already certain to crown another champion: The highly anticipated Halftime Show headlined by Usher promises to deliver a spectacle for the books and to solidify the singer/ dancer’s status as one of the all-time greats – in R’n’B and music in general.

Yet, one of the most thankless challenging tasks of the evening might be sifting out the setlist for Ursher’s performance: The man simply has too many hits – his nine number 1 singles alone are almost enough to fill the 15 minutes artists are permitted during a Halftime Show. Not to mention covering the legend’s entire 30-year career, which heavily helped to shape the sound of contemporary R’n’B.

While this is not to be understood as a prediction, but rather a wishlist, here are a few eventualities we’re looking forward to (or at least hoping for) when Usher Raymond IV cements his icon status on one of the biggest stages in the world:

Mount Rushmore Stuff

Recent interviews with Usher did already make it clear that – despite all the uptempo club hits with the David Guettas of this world – he will pay homage to the genre of R’n’B with his show . And if there’s one thing Usher Raymond IV never shied away from, it’s giving props where they’re due: The man knows about the trailblazers who made his breakthrough in the mid-90s possible in the first place.

We’re talking Bobby Brown’s seductiveness that Usher’s songs have breathed since “You Make Me Wanna”. We’re talking the catchy productions of a Jermaine Dupri and, of course, the dance moves of a Michael Jackson, to name just the tip of the iceberg. So we’re hoping for interspersed (dance) tributes to Michael Jackson – it’s not as if Usher wasn’t one of the few to not get outshined by the king when they shared a stage, but indeed shined just as bright. We’re also hoping for “Y’all Know What This Is” interjections from JD. And an Aaliyah reference doesn’t seem unrealistic either.

Popping His Collar

Hats. Sunglasses. Durags. Bandanas. Belt buckles big enough to make a Texan blush. Bow Ties. Neck Ties. Fitted hats, and more: This is just a small selection of the accessories the style icon has rocked throughout the three decades of his career – not to mention all the suits and apparel in general (in case he’s not performing shirtless). We don’t know exactly how many outfit changes are possible in 15 minutes, but it’s not a wild guess that a few of Usher’s closets are getting carted into the Allegiant Stadium right now.

The one accessory that is most likely to shine in the TV cameras, however, is relatively small: Usher’s infamous “u” chain, which he has worn in various variations since time immemorial. The Grammy winner just loves his initials: “U Remind Me”, “U Don’t Have to Call”, “U-Turn”, “U Got It Bad”, “Missing U”, “Glu”… That’s all singles, by the way, that could make the setlist too (with the first two as the most likely candidates).

Southern Hospitality

The Super Bowl is not completely new territory for Usher: exactly ten years ago, he made a guest appearance at the Black Eyed Peas’ Halftime Show, with whose frontman will i.am he performed “OMG”. So that song could most likely be eliminated as a setlist candidate. When it comes to his own potential guests, Usher can definitely bring out the greatest of the greatest from three eras anyways:

His discography includes collaborations with Drake, Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Enrique Iglesias (?!), Young Jeezy, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Jung Kook, Jay-Z and literally dozens more superstars. Whoever says Usher must also say “ballads” though, which is why a guest appearance by Alicia Keys with “My Boo” is not unlikely. Or 21 Savage subs again, transitioning over into their “Good Good” collab with Summer Walker – the possibilities are almost endless. There are two other special guests though that are unevitable:

“Peace Up, A-Town Down”

When the world is watching, you have to play the song you had it firmly in the palm of your hand with exactly 20 years ago: “Yeah” is still a damn hit despite the never-ending ringtone commercials back then – remember those? – and always will be. It’s high energy, the main lyric (“Yeah”, if you didn’t know) is the definition of stadium-ready and who better to fire up a stadium than everyone’s favorite bawler Lil’ Jon?

Of course, the ATLien trio isn’t complete without Ludacris, which will probably have a few younger semesters rubbing their eyes in front of the TV at home, asking their parents “What’s that ‘Fast and The Furious’ guy doing on the mic?” The only other question remains: Is Usher opening the Halftime Show with his signature track or is it its grand finale? We’re guessing the latter. Mr. “I Don’t Give A F*ck” Lil’ Jon at the Super Bowl… If only someone had told us in 2003.

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