Usher’s Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had

On Sunday in Las Vegas, the R&B king delivered an electrifying performance with roller skating, pole dancing, and Atlanta rap legends

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Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Ludacris, Usher, and Lil Jon perform at the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show

Photograph by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For the rest the world, this may have been Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl but here in Atlanta, we weren’t watching the game for Taylor, or Travis, or Brock Purdy, or Patrick Mahomes. (Shout out to the Chiefs for that win in overtime, though.) No, we were watching the game for Usher, and not only did he not disappoint, he gave us the Super Bowl halftime show we deserved five years ago.

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Usher performs during the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show.

Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Remember, back when planning for Atlanta’s Super Bowl LIII was underway, when we breathlessly imagined who among the Atlanta music pantheon might headline our halftime show? Would it be Luda? An OutKast reunion? Migos? And then we found out we were getting Maroon 5, after Rihanna allegedly turned down an offer. Keep in mind—this announcement came in late 2018, a year after Colin Kaepernick wasn’t offered a spot with any NFL team and the same year the NFL enforced a rule (that they later revoked) requiring players stand during the national anthem. Playing the halftime show became controversial, and Maroon 5 allegedly struggled to find anyone else to play with them. Ultimately, Atlanta legend Big Boi and Travis Scott appeared alongside the band, but it wasn’t enough to save what was largely regarded as a very dull halftime show.

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Usher and his dancers show off their skating moves.

Photograph by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Usher performs during the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show.

Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

So when Usher was announced as the performer for this year’s Super Bowl in Vegas, where the R&B star recently held a year-and-a-half-long residency, I know I wasn’t alone in thinking, “Damn, that should have been Atlanta’s show.” And while watching the incredible 13-minute performance, I yelled those sentiments at my television. Because it was, beautifully, Atlanta’s show. Usher flawlessly ran through several of his hits (“Caught Up,” “U Don’t Have to Call,” and “Superstar”) before “Love in This Club,” where Jackson State’s marching band Sonic Boom of the South shined. Alicia Keys joined him for her hit “If I Ain’t Got You,” and they teamed up for their amazing 2004 duet “My Boo.”

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Usher and Alicia Keys perform “My Boo”

Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Jermaine Dupri shouted out the 20th anniversary of Confessions as Usher slid into “Confessions Part II,” “Burn,” and “U Got It Bad,” which featured H.E.R. with a killer guitar solo. Skating dancers rolled out for “Bad Girl,” with a bedazzled skating Usher leading the turn into “OMG” with guest Will.i.am. Lil Jon jumped in with a quick performance of “Turn Down For What,” and he and Ludacris joined Usher for “Yeah!”, giving a shout out to the city at the end. We had our Atlanta legends. There were pole dancers. A skating rink. “I turned the world to the A.” It was phenomenal.

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Usher and H.E.R. perform “U Got It Bad”

Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Ludacris, Usher, Lil Jon, and Jermaine Dupri at the end of “Yeah!”

Photograph by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Usher's Super Bowl performance is the halftime show Atlanta should have had
Jackson State’s marching band performed with Usher throughout the halftime show.

Photograph by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

But don’t take my word for it—Atlanta Twitter (sorry, Atlanta X) erupted with praise for Usher’s performance. Here’s a bit of what they had to say.

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