The NFL is the biggest sports league arguably in the world, and the Super Bowl is annually the most-watched event on television. It isn’t just a game; it is a media spectacle that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the host city.
The beginning of every NFL season also begins speculation as to who will perform the halftime show. The show has morphed from an afterthought to a much-anticipated event featuring some of the biggest names in music history.
Past artists have included U2, Creed, Michael Jackson, Prince, Diana Ross, The Rolling Stones, and, as every NFL fan surely remembers, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. In more recent years, the event has leaned almost exclusively toward hip-hop and rhythm and blues music, with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and others performing at last year’s show.
Now that the season is well underway, the league announced that the show, presented by Apple Music, will be headlined by rhythm and blues legend Usher., and will take place on February 11, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the second year of sponsorship by Apple Music after more than a decade of Pepsi.
Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, and Taylor Swift were all rumored to be in the running for the event, with Swift being too busy with her Era’s tour to accept. Usher had this to say: “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,” Usher said in a statement. “Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen. I’ll see you real soon.”
The performance will coincide with the release of Usher’s ninth album, entitled “Coming Home.” It’s the artist’s first new album since 2016 and surely will be highly anticipated considering the release date. The head of music for the NFL, Seth Dudowsky, said this: “We look forward to working with Usher, Roc Nation and Apple Music to bring fans another Halftime Show for the history books.”
This is Roc Nation’s fifth year partnering with the NFL to produce the show, and the shift to hip-hop and rhythm and blues has coincided with this partnership. While country and rock fans tend to tune out during halftime, the shows are still massively successful and popular.
However, they are not without some controversy. Last year’s show featured a visibly pregnant Rihanna performing a suggestive, over-the-top act that included overt obscene gestures. The Federal Communication Commission reported receiving a large volume of complaints for the sexual nature of the broadcast.
Perhaps deciding to take a safer route, Usher nonetheless has a catalog large enough to fill the halftime show. Usher has also teamed up with enough artists for songs that he likely will bring out several collaborators for the big event. Ludacris, Lil Jon, and will.i.am, and others potentially could see the stage with Usher.
One of last season’s headliners, Jay Z, said this: “Usher is the ultimate artist and showman. Ever since his debut at the age of 15, he’s been charting his own unique course. Beyond his flawless singing and exceptional choreography, Usher bares his soul. His remarkable journey has propelled him to one of the grandest stages in the world. I can’t wait to see the magic.”
Perhaps it is getting harder to persuade artists to take on such a massive undertaking. After all, the performers do not get paid and have to foot the bill themselves for the honor of performing. However, Usher is a solid choice with enough broad appeal that the show should come off as a winner, even if the game does not.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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