Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance
Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime performance took place last Sunday in Las Vegas. Over the span of his two-decade career, there is much anticipation of which one of his classic songs will cut the fifteen-minute set in front of a projected 100 million viewers worldwide.
From his 1993 debut song, “Call Me a Mack,” to his latest release, “Risk It All,” Usher and his partnership with Apple Music have a musical catalog for generations to dance along to for years.
Let’s look at his most famous songs from each studio album.
My Way (1997)
“My Way” is one of the most popular songs from Usher’s same titled sophomore album. Usher co-wrote the song alongside Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal under Dupri’s label. The song is a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s version from 1969.
The smooth R&B hit reached number two on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 in 1997. The eccentric music video portrays Usher alongside Tyrese Gibson in a junkyard competing against one another in a West Side Story, Jets vs Sharks, inspired fight. During the chorus of the song, Usher showcases his dance sequences and footwork inspiration from Michael Jackson and James Brown. The song sold over seven million copies worldwide and helped catapult Usher to the emerging R&B star in the late 1990s.
U Got It Bad (2001)
“U Got It Bad” is the second single from his junior album, “8701”, in 2001. The song was co-written by Jermaine Dupri and Dupri shared his testimony to how the song came to be. According to Dupri, Usher was distracted talking to a woman, then proceeded to talk to the woman on the phone outside of the studio. “We’re going to do this [session] later on. You got it completely too bad right now. You got it bad,” Dupri said to Usher from Genius.com. Then, the single follows a traditional and linear R&B song format with heavy vocal riffs and drastic snares in the backbeat. In the video, Usher was dating Chilli, a member of the popular girl group TLC, during the time so she played the love interest. This R&B ballad reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and US Rhythmic charts in 2001.
“Yeah!” is the first single from Usher’s senior album, “Confessions”, in 2004. “Confessions” is the breakout album that solidified Usher’s presence in the music industry. The album is critically acclaimed by sources such as AllMusic with a five star rating, a 9 out of 10 rating from Pitchfork Media, and a 3 star rating from Rolling Stone. Furthermore, the album tracklist is a compilation of songs that depict Usher’s personal relationships and life up to that point in 2004.
The single, “Yeah!” features Ludacris and Lil Jon to compliment Usher’s R&B sound. The song has crunk influences embedded in the song and adlibs. “Crunk” is a subcategory of hip-hop that is full of energy with repeated catchphrases along with an electronic musical backbeat. The song begins with Usher’s introduction and shoutout to “A-Town”, in this instance, he is repping Atlanta. Then, Lil Jon opens the track with his crunk background as Usher is singing along with the dramatic bassline. Afterward, Ludacris enters the scene with his rap in the middle of the song. “Yeah!” became very popular in 2004 that it won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. It was also the longest running number one single in 2004 by topping the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for 12 consecutive weeks. Listen to the 2004 hit here!
Love In This Club (2008)
“Here I Stand” is his fifth studio album that was released in 2010. Following the success of Confessions, the album was highly anticipated for his next tracklist. Before the album began its recording, Usher endured several losses that inspired some of his material on this album. Overall, the album grossed over two million copies in 2008. Since Confessions was in the realm of R&B, “Here I Stand” followed the trend of the start of the new decade with the inspiration of EDM and pop. However, Usher kept his R&B sound to adapt to the new musical climate.
“Love In This Club” is a record that is inspired by the Las Vegas scene. Polow da Don, one of the main producers of the track, is notably famous for his synth-driven beats and European-inspired club music. So, he introduced the song to Usher as a new sound for him to explore. Rapper Young Jeezy hopped onto the record to keep the same rap influence presented in “Yeah!”. The song has an easygoing atmosphere and the synths create smooth transitions between Usher’s vocals and Young Jeezy’s rap. Again, the song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remains a classic in Usher’s catalog. Check out the song here!
Check out more of his songs on his VEVO channel! Be sure to watch Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance this Sunday
Featured Image from Instagram by Bellamy Brewster