Watch Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers from Las Vegas, live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kick-off at 11.30pm – Usher half-time show to start at approximately 1am
Image: Usher is headlining the Super Bowl LVIII half-time show in Las Vegas on Sunday
Usher is the latest music megastar to be awarded the honour of headlining the Super Bowl half-time show – but will his set be a bona fide ‘Yeah’ or will the eight-time Grammy winner crash and ‘Burn’?
Usher follows in the footsteps of legendary performers such as The Rolling Stones and Prince who have previously graced the half-time stage, along with Rihanna who brought the house down with a dazzling spectacle as last year’s Super Bowl.
But which songs will feature in Usher’s 15-minute setlist? Will he have any guest stars join him on stage? And will one of them be Taylor Swift?
Image: The Rolling Stones salute the Detroit crowd following their Super Bowl set list
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Could Usher be joined on stage?
There was speculation that Swift herself could have been the half-time headliner this year, having never previously played the show – and with host city Las Vegas in need of a sizable superstar for its first year hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet.
Such speculation was ended when Usher was announced in September but, with Swift set to journey in on the red-eye following a concert in Tokyo in order to watch her boyfriend Travis Kelce in action for the Kansas City Chiefs, could she sub in for her beau as he heads to the locker room at half-time?
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Perhaps somewhat fanciful, but not impossible. Nor perhaps would be cameos from Adele or U2 – both currently playing residencies in Las Vegas – or maybe one of Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Bruno Mars, who are also set to be playing shows in town over Super Bowl weekend. U2 and Mars have experience too of previously headlining the show.
More likely though, if we are looking for Usher collaborators, are some of the artists he has worked with in the past, a list that includes the likes of will.iam, Ludacris, Pitbull, Alicia Keys, Enrique Iglesias, Justin Bieber and Beyonce – the latter another to have played the Super Bowl previously. Quite the talent pool to pick from.
Watch some of the best bits from Rihanna’s incredible half-time show at Super Bowl LVII last year
Perhaps there will be no guest stars, however. Last year, Rihanna said she was “thinking about bringing someone” when quizzed by reporters, only for it become apparent mid-show that her pregnancy was the surprise she had in store.
Who has previously performed?
The list is long and star-studded, with the modern-day half-time show we now know and love really beginning with Michael Jackson’s set at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993. Before then, the game break mostly was a showcase for novelty variety acts and college marching bands.
Jackson changed all that, making quite the entrance, shooting up from under the stage, then standing motionless for a minute while the 100,000-strong crowd at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles screamed in adoration, before launching into hits ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Black or White’ and ending things with ‘Heal the World’.
At the turn of the millennium, there was quite the churn of old-school rockers from either side of the pond, with Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Who, Aerosmith and U2 taking centre stage, the latter delivering a touching tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks in the first Super Bowl staged following the terrorist attack on New York in 2001.
Image: Bono and U2 delivered a touching tribute at their Super Bowl show following the 9/11 terror attacks
U2 delivered hits ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘MLK’, and finally ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’, as the names of loved ones lost on 9/11 were displayed on a screen behind the band, with Bono revealing a jacket lined with stars and stripes in a stripped-back, poignant set.
In more recent times, rock has made way for pop megastars in the form of, most recently, Rihanna, along with Madonna, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Beyonce – who also joined Coldplay on stage during their half-time headlining set at Super Bowl 50.
Image: Beyonce, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Bruno Mars perform onstage during the Super Bowl 50 half-time show
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira memorable shared the stage four years ago in Miami, when this year’s finalists, the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, previously clashed, while Super Bowl LVI’s half-time show in 2022 will live long in the memory as hip hop legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar all headlined, featuring a guest appearance from 50 Cent to boot.
Half-time fails and controversies
The most memorable (for the wrong reasons) and most controversial half-time show of all time was certainly Janet Jackson’s collaboration with Timberlake in 2004.
At the climax of the performance came the most famous wardrobe malfunction of all time, with Timberlake accidentally revealing Jackson’s right breast live on TV – both were adamant the incident was an accident despite conspiracy theories circling it was an intentional publicity stunt.
Broadcaster CBS was fined $550,000 following the show, but that is small change when compared to the massive $16m fine the NFL and broadcaster NBC handed M.I.A after she delivered an offensive hand gesture down the camera during her guest appearance as part of Madonna’s set in 2012.
The British rapper subsequently said nerves and adrenaline got the better of her and the two parties agreed on a settlement privately.
Image: Lady Gaga headlined the Super Bowl half-time show in 2017 in Houston
Lady Gaga rightly received no fine for her dazzling performance in 2017, though she did deliver a few perhaps pointed tracks as part of her set, including ‘God Bless America’, ‘This Is Your Land’, ‘Million Reasons’ and ‘Born This Way’, fresh off the heels of then President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Elsewhere, we have had an out-of-time dancer dressed as a shark become an internet viral sensation after Katy Perry’s half-time show, Bruce Springsteen nearly take out a cameraman with an epic cross-stage knee slide and the utter snoozefest that was Maroon 5’s miserable effort in 2019.
Usher, be warned.
Image: Katy Perry was upstaged during her Super Bowl performance by #leftshark
What songs could feature in set list?
“It’s an honour of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list,” Usher said following his announcement.
“I can’t wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they’ve seen from me before.”
While a smattering of his hits spanning the decades can likely be expected, 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of his album ‘Confessions’, which sold more than 10m units in the US and earned him eight nominations at the 2005 Grammys, winning him three.
‘Confessions’ 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 also included the smooth hit ‘My Boo’, a duet with Alicia Keys.
Could they be set to feature prominently in his set on Sunday?
Watch Super Bowl LVIII from Las Vegas live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 11, with build-up from 10pm ahead of kickoff at 11.30pm; Neil Reynolds and Phoebe Schecter will be joined in the studio by former NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins