Taylor Swift, Beyonce command conversation as Usher helms Super Bowl half-time show


By AGENCY

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce celebrates with girlfriend Taylor Swift after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Usher delivered a Las Vegas-appropriate set heavy on glitz, choreography and nostalgia as he headlined the Super Bowl half-time show on Feb 11, but it was new music from Beyonce and the Taylor Swift cam that grabbed the most attention.

Swift was the night’s most-watched fan as she cheered on her boyfriend Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, from a luxury box with a coterie of famous friends.

Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime to claim the Super Bowl, providing a jolt of megawatt excitement to the Vegas blockbuster and ending a week-long will-she-won’t-she saga that has dominated the lead-up to the football event of the year.

Swift’s relationship with the Chiefs star has been a boon to television ratings, her every move offering headline fodder.

At one point, she delighted the Internet by chugging a beer – she clocked in at 6.6 seconds – as the jumbotron documented the party trick.

The 34-year-old pop star’s arrival some two hours before kick-off sent an almost palpable frisson around the Allegiant Stadium and social media rapidly filled with pictures and video footage of the singer dressed in a black top and jeans with a red jacket slung over her shoulder walking through the bowels of the stadium with celebrity friends, actress Blake Lively and rapper Ice Spice.

A punishing travel schedule in which Swift has flown from Japan to the United States and will then jet to Australia for tour commitments meant her presence was far from a foregone conclusion, and when giant television screens showed Swift for the first time, a ripple of cheers went around the still-mostly empty stadium.

US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift kisses Kansas City Chiefs' tight end #87 Travis Kelce after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 11, 2024. Photo: AFPUS singer-songwriter Taylor Swift kisses Kansas City Chiefs' tight end #87 Travis Kelce after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 11, 2024. Photo: AFP

Beyonce was also in attendance with her hip-hop mogul husband Jay-Z – and announced a new album during a commercial she did with telecom provider Verizon. The ad closes with the line: “Drop the music.”

Moments later on Instagram, Beyonce, 42, announced with another clip that her eighth studio album is due on March 29.

The post did not give a title, but simply said Act II. Her 2022 blockbuster album Renaissance had been branded Act I.

Shortly thereafter, fans of Beyonce had two new songs to listen to: the twangy Texas Hold ‘Em and 16 Carriages implied Beyonce’s new volume of work might be country-heavy, in a nod to her Texas roots.

The announcement came one week after Swift used the Grammy Awards to promote her upcoming studio album The Tortured Poets Department out on April 19.

America’s megastars Beyonce and Swift had major summer tours in 2023, boosting local economies at every turn.

But while it was Bey and Tay who overshadowed the night, it was Usher who helmed the stage.

Football - NFL - Super Bowl LVIII - Half-Time Show - Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States on Feb 11 with Usher. Photo: ReutersFootball - NFL - Super Bowl LVIII - Half-Time Show - Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States on Feb 11 with Usher. Photo: Reuters

The slow jam king held his own as he captured the magic of his late-1990s, early-aughts fame with a 13-minute, career-spanning medley including hits like Love In This Club (2008) and OMG (2010)

It was not the 45-year-old’s first time at the Super Bowl – Usher appeared as a guest of the Black Eyed Peas in 2011 – but it was the first that he headlined.

His show paid homage to the late Michael Jackson, who with his 1993 set transformed the halftime gig into one of music’s most-watched – and most-coveted. At one point, Usher donned a single glove, a clear nod to the groundbreaking pop artist.

From gyrating among dancers clad in feathers, velvet and gemstones to roller-skating as a marching band took the field, the 45-year-old Usher gave an electric performance that was also an ode to Black culture and music.

The roller skating bit was a recreation of the viral highlight in his Las Vegas concert residency, and saw will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas join him onstage.

“Hey mama, we made it, and now this is for you,” he told the camera before launching into the sultry smash Love In This Club.

Usher and H.E.R. perform during the halftime show. Photo: ReutersUsher and H.E.R. perform during the halftime show. Photo: Reuters

Alicia Keys appeared midway through at a futuristic red piano, playing a few bars of her own hit If I Ain’t Got You (2004) before removing a cape to reveal her sparkling red catsuit.

Keys and Usher then performed their 2004 duet My Boo to the delight of fans and social media.

It would not be an Usher show if he did not eventually lose his shirt, which he dropped for U Got It Bad (2001)

That song featured a surprise guest in the form of H.E.R., the enigmatic artiste whose sizzling guitar solo was among the show’s highlights.

Usher slayed in perhaps the most predictable song of the night, his 2004 banger Yeah! which featured appearances from Lil Jon and Ludacris.

It was all-in-all a crowning achievement for Usher, who released a new album Coming Home on Feb 9 and had talked about his halftime show as marking the transition to the second half of his career. – AFP, REUTERS

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