Usher says it’s been a challenge to squeeze 30-year career into 13-minute Super Bowl halftime show
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Usher found fitting a successful three decades of music into a super-short Super Bowl halftime show a challenge, but the multiple Grammy winner decided to concentrate on past hits, moments from his popular Las Vegas residency and possibly draw from his new album.
“I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present, which is here in Las Vegas, and thinking about where we’re heading in the future,” the singer said when he addressed the media Thursday in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will be held at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, with the San Francisco 49ers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs. He will release his ninth studio album “Coming Home” on Friday.
Usher said he’s been asking himself, “What songs do people know me for, what songs have been a celebration of all of the journey?”
The R&B singer thought about adding the roller skating element from his residency into his halftime performance, but he gave no other specific clues on where that process led him, and what his take on the global spectacle will look like.
“For everybody who heard about my show in Las Vegas, you’ll now get a chance to see some of what I did here but you’ll get the best of it,” he said. ”
Usher did not drop names of who might be joining him on stage, but he offered some vague hints. He confirmed that he won’t be alone at Allegiant Stadium. In previous years, most Super Bowl performers have included guest stars — except for Rihanna, who was a solo act last year.
The singer suggested it would be people he’s collaborated with before.
“I think I made it easy for myself when I decided to have featured artists on songs that became hit records. That gave me the greatest inspiration,” he said. “I have definitely gone through a lot of ideas of who I would have go through this moment with me
That hardly narrows it down, however, given all the folks he’s collaborated with, from Beyoncé to Monica to Nicki Minaj to Ludacris to Lil Jon.
Usher was a Super Bowl guest star himself, with Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am in 2011. He told The Associated Press previously that he’d use that performance as a “cheat sheet” for Sunday’s show.
On Thursday, he said he had a harrowing moment getting there.
“My hand got caught on a wire that was holding me 30 feet in the air, and I almost missed my entrance,” he said.
He still managed to hit is mark — in the splits. But he would prefer to avoid that kind of mishap.
Usher said he definitely aims to bring the flavor of Atlanta — a city where he made his musical name. His 100-show local residency in Las Vegas last year was a perfect workshop to help make that happen.
“I’ve been able to bring a great deal of Atlanta and the melting pot that it is, musically and culturally, to Las Vegas,” he said. “It wasn’t easy to do but I turned Vegas into Atlanta. I took the V and turned it upside down.”
An eight-time Grammy winner, Usher’s “Confessions” has sold more than 10 million units in the U.S. The album ranks among one of the best-selling music projects of all time and launched No. 1 hits such as “Yeah!” with Ludacris and Lil Jon, “Burn” and “Confessions Part II.” His special edition version included the smooth hit “My Boo,” a duet with Alicia Keys. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the epic album.
Usher joins a list of celebrated entertainers, who have played during the Super Bowl halftime shows, including Prince, Beyoncé, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Last year, Rihanna chose her Super Bowl performance to tell the world she was pregnant with her second child.
Usher spoke to the media not in a traditional news conference format but via an interview with Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis in front of an audience full of reporters that was streamed on its platform and social media sites.
The news conference also featured pre-game performers including Reba McEntire, Post Malone and Andra Day.
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