will.i.am, H.E.R. and Lil Jon also took the stage for this monumental performance.
So the rumours turned out to be false: Justin Bieber did not end up taking the stage during the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show. But those holding out for huge cameo appearances weren’t left totally dry, with stacks of other stars popping up during Usher’s epic 13-song performance.
The bulk of the setlist was pulled from the R&B icon’s classic 2004 album Confessions, kicking off with the hit Caught Up. Later in the set, My Boo was mashed up with Alicia Keys’ 2003 hit If I Ain’t Got You, for which Keys herself took the mic. H.E.R. then played guitar with Usher on U Got It Bad, and will.i.am hopped up to sing his part on OMG.
The grand finale saw Lil Jon hit the stage for Usher’s take on Turn Down For What, before both artists were joined by Ludacris to perform the timeless Yeah!
It seems Bieber was indeed scheduled to join Usher at one point – likely performing one of the latter’s early hits that Usher featured on, like Somebody To Love or First Dance – given that most of the insiders who leaked the other guests had him on their itineraries; it’s been reported, too, that Bieber even had his own dressing room and equipment ready to go.
Super Bowl LVIII is ongoing, with the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s airing live in Australia on Channel 7, with the broadcast expected to stream online afterwards.
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Usher was announced as the headliner for this year’s Halftime Show last September. He said at the time, “It’s an honour 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. Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen.”
The excitement was shared by Seth Dudowsky – the NFL’s Head of Music – who added: “Usher is an icon whose music has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape throughout his career; we couldn’t be more excited to have him headline this year’s Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
Dutch DJ Tiësto was also scheduled to perform at the game, making history as its first-ever in-game DJ – which would see him spinning tracks during breaks, following a more substantial pre-game performance – but he was forced to pull out at the last minute, citing a family emergency.