Usher pulled out all the stops for his Apple Music halftime show, where he was joined by Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Lil Jon, Ludacris and will.i.am
The R&B singer, 45, pulled out all the stops for his career-spanning, 13-minute performance at Sunday's Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
The superstar (whose real name is Usher Raymond IV) channeled the showmanship energy of Sin City for his performance at Allegiant Stadium. Throughout his set, the hitmaker was joined by an expansive roster of dancers in showgirl-inspired, feathered costumes, acrobats and baton twirlers and a full marching band, which played across the field.
Usher began the performance sitting on a couch on the center of the field. He wore a Liberace-inspired white cloak that he took off to unveil a white, bedazzled suit from Dolce&Gabana. He kicked off the show by harkening back to his acclaimed 2004 album Confessions, playing the track "Caught Up."
He then broke into "U Don't Have to Call," and sweetly proclaimed, "They said I wouldn't make it, but I am. Hey Mama, we made it, this is for you."
Traveling over to a smaller stage, he briefly played an interlude of "Superstar" and then performed "Love in this Club" — never stopping his dynamic choreography.
The show featured a star-studded lineup of special guests — kicking things off with Alicia Keys, who was also dressed in a sparkly, red Dolce&Gabanna ensemble. The songstress, 43, began her portion of the set by singing her own track "If I Ain't Got You," which Usher eventually joined as a duet before the two sang a rendition of their song "My Boo" together. As they wrapped up their joint performance, they embraced in a hug.
Usher played "Confessions Part II," "Burn" and "U Got It Bad," during which he wore a single glove, seemingly as a nod to the late Michael Jackson. He then took off his shirt to reveal his flawless six-pack of abs.
H.E.R. joined him on electric guitar during "U Got It Bad" thrilling the audience with an impressive solo.
Surprise guests came out one after the other for the remainder of the set, including Jermaine Dupri, will.i.am for "OMG" and Lil Jon — who played his own hit "Turn Down for What — as well as Ludacris, on the finale "Yeah!" Though Usher began his set calling back to his early days, he wrapped up the show by making references to his present, replicating portions of his My Way Las Vegas residency, such as choreography on roller skates and stripper poles.
"I took the world to the A. I took the world to the A," he repeated at the end of the performance, referring to his hometown of Atlanta and revealing what a full-circle moment the career milestone meant to him.
See PEOPLE's full coverage of the Super Bowl LVII as it broadcasts live on CBS from the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
This is the first time Usher headlines the Super Bowl halftime show. He previously performed alongside the Black Eyed Peas as a guest artist during their 2011 halftime show at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
When he was announced as the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show headliner in September 2023, Usher called it the "honor of a lifetime."
"It's an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list. I can't wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they've seen from me before. Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen. I'll see you real soon," he said in a statement. While planning the performance, Usher reflected on Black artists' past struggles.
He said on Good Morning America that he thought about musicians of the past "having to, at some point, go through kitchens to even be able to perform for an audience."
"They had to leave back through that same door, you know, fearing for their lives as they went to the next state to do the same thing. So, I'm coming through the front door with this one," Usher said.
His performance at the Super Bowl comes two days after he released his ninth studio album, Coming Home. Although his Las Vegas residency ended in December 2023, fans can expect to see him perform his new music on the USHER: Past Present Future tour.
The tour is set to kick off on Aug. 20 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., and will wrap at Chicago's United Center on Oct. 29.
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The 2024 Super Bowl matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs is airing live on CBS.
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