From singing in Chattanooga church choirs to becoming a heartthrob of the music world to finding a spot on the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show, Usher is always in season, thanks to his mastery of the R&B genre.
The 45-year-old remains one of the hottest properties on the music scene and getting a shot at the Super Bowl Halftime Show is something every musician dreams of. It is a tough call to concentrate 30 years of music into 13 minutes on February 11 (February 12 in India) but the man knows how to play it. And his performance is coming two days after the release of his first album in eight years — Coming Home.
“I launched that album as an independent artiste. And I will be, up until this day, the only independent artiste who’s ever performed the Super Bowl Halftime Show. So this is a beginning, this is a new beginning to me,” Usher told Apple Music Radio host Nadeska Alexis.
His ninth solo album plays out the many aspects of love — sensual beats pack Please U, lovesickness cover Cold Blood, confidence comes through in Big and being a loyal partner makes Keep On Dancin’ special. These are often explored themes in Usher’s discography, heightened by his deep vocals exploring electronic soundscapes.
Usher has 30 years of music behind him, making his debut with a self-titled album in 1994 and then three years later came his first commercial achievement, his 1997 album, My Way, giving way to five consecutive number-one albums. The man is a star from the fading analogue years, when performance was everything. Even now he puts his voice and emotions first and then comes everything digital.
Usher takes part in a conversation ahead of Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show in Las Vegas
At the Halftime Show expect a lot of fireworks. “I think I made it easy for myself when I decided to have like… features on songs that became hit records. That gave me the greatest point of reference. But here’s what’s beautiful… Apple has been following me throughout this entire process. So we’re in the process of figuring out how we’re going to share it with you, break the Internet by that conversation. There’s also a documentary crew that’s been collecting all of the moments that have happened. There are cameras around us at all times, looking at the process that we went through. You get a chance to see from the first moment that I got the call all the way up to the moment that I walk off the stage,” he told Apple Music.
Meaning of R&B
Usher is not exactly new to the Super Bowl Halftime extravaganza. The Halftime show of 2011 featured the Black Eyed Peas while he had an additional performance. “Oddly enough there was a moment that only I think I remember. My hand got caught in the wire that was holding me, like, 30 feet in the air. And I almost missed my first mark. I was like: ‘Oh my god, don’t let this malfunction cause me to miss something.’ But, that was one. The second was, afterwards, and how amazing it felt to be in front of that many people and feel the energy. So much so that it made me really passionate about eventually getting this moment that I’m getting to have. But it was really fueled by being able to be just in that moment with the Black Eyed Peas,” said Usher.
Lately, it is his My Way Residency in Las Vegas that has been in the news and it is one of the most profitable ones in the past two years. He turned “Vegas into Atlanta” and “took that V and turned it upside down”.
What’s brilliant about this man is the wide range of musicians he is willing to work with. During the eight years he did not put out a new album, K-pop was gaining ground. But he has managed to take advantage of the K-pop wave. A single that he released before Coming Home was Standing Next to You (Usher Remix), a duet with the K-pop star Jung Kook from BTS.
“I’ve tried so many things in my career, and I’ve managed to be able to gather people who celebrate my music and celebrate my experiences. And maybe they tie it to theirs. Maybe they got married to a song. Maybe they fell in love to a song. Maybe they made love to a song. Maybe they celebrated and laughed and had an incredible time. Maybe they cried. Maybe they hurt. Maybe had a chance to be confident in a way that they didn’t have before they listened to that song. That’s what R&B has been to me. And I hope that the rest of the world can celebrate in the way I celebrate it,” the Nice and Slow singer told Apple Music Radio.
And the Confession singer has a confession. “We gonna keep it age-appropriate? Nah. It was always a dream of mine to be slimed as a kid. I watched it just like all of us in here. To get that green goop over my head was something that I really… I just wanted to be able to say I did. And by the time I finally made it to the Nickelodeon awards, they just didn’t do it anymore. I was like, ‘That sucks.’