Let me hear you say "Yeah." Not a Stevie Wonder "yeah." An Usher "Yeah!"
Because Usher's Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday was the most outstanding halftime effort by a solo act since Lady Gaga in 2017. Not that Usher had to go it alone. He had guest appearances by Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Jermaine Dupri, will.i.am, Lil Jon and Ludacris.
Usher was the right combination of dynamic dancing, passionate vocals, exciting entertainment, smart staging, strong songs, longevity and fame. He's been around for 30 years so everyone — from Gen X to millennials to Gen Z and even boomers — knows who he is and probably recognizes some of his hits.
Usher started his 13-song, 13-minute performance with "Caught Up" on the football field with too many dancers (including Vegas showgirls) to count. And how many stars can dance on a football field in sneakers with the panache of Usher? Before the halftime was over, the R&B superstar performed on a small round stage and a larger one in sneakers and even roller skates.
And, while dancing in skates during "OMG," Usher slid through the legs of guest Jermaine Dupri, who produced Usher's first big hit "You Make Me Wanna." That dazzling move evoked Bruce Springsteen sliding on his knees into a camera during the Super Bowl halftime in 2009.
The most remarkable aspect of Sunday's show was after Keys, seated at a curvaceous red piano for her own "If I Ain't Got You," joined Usher for a little cuddling center stage on "My Boo." Never has such an intimate, romantic moment been executed at a Super Bowl halftime.
And somewhere between his five costume changes, Usher lost one of his gloves in what might must have been a tribute to Michael Jackson, a big influence on Usher's slippery and slinky dance moves. In one outfit change, Usher stripped off his jacket and T-shirt to expose his six-pack during "U Got It Bad," which showcased H.E.R. on a riveting guitar solo.
The fast-paced set built, as expected, to the climactic party blast "Yeah!" featuring Lil Jon, Ludacris and the Jackson State University marching band.
That Usher was able to pull off this extravaganza is no surprise. He is no stranger to Las Vegas or the Super Bowl. Sunday's performance was his 101st in Vegas following a hugely successful, two-year "Usher: My Way" residency. And he made a guest appearance in the 2011 Super Bowl with Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am descending to the stage from the rafters in Arlington, Texas.
At 45, Usher is raring to go. On Friday, he dropped an album, "Coming Home" — his first in eight years. And he'll kick off a 41-concert tour in August.
Everybody say "Yeah!"
As for the "Honor America" segment before the game, Grammy-winning R&B star Andra Day got down and dusky and eventually soared to the heavens on an emotional "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Black national anthem.
With his gold grillz gleaming, Post Malone, perhaps best known for his Super Bowl Doritos ads, offered a lightly twangy, pedal steel guitar-kissed rendition of "America the Beautiful," which sounded like a competition between his reverb (or was it Auto Tune?) and the domed Allegiant Stadium's inherent echo.
And enduring country superstar Reba McEntire — the fourth consecutive country star to offer the national anthem at the Super Bowl — has had better days in her 50-year career. She struggled with the challenging "Star-Spangled Banner" on the high note on the end of the line "land of the free-eee-EEE" and found a new way to finish the phrasing "home of the BAAAAHHH-rave."
Shout out to Kaskade, the first official Super Bowl in-game DJ — and he was a substitute for Tiësto, who bowed out because of a family emergency. Kaskade spun tunes that fans in the stadium heard while TV watchers experienced commercials with Ice Spice, Beyoncé, Jack Harlow and other music — and TV and film — stars.