If there’s one question going into Super Bowl 2024 — besides “how many times will the NFL show Taylor Swift in the stands?” — it’s “who is Usher going to bring out during his halftime show?”
Ever since Usher, 45, was named the headliner for the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show, fans have speculated who might join him in the middle of Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium.
Usher has confirmed that there will be guests, telling Vogue that the night has been “specifically curated in my mind to have R&B take the main stage,” and that the surprise performers would represent the R&B genre. “Not just R&B music,” he added, “but R&B performance, R&B connection, R&B spirit.”
He also said he wanted to use this moment to pay homage to the Black artists who laid the foundation for stars like him to have successful music careers.
“I think about what our country has kind of represented for Black artists,” he explained during a February 2 appearance on Good Morning America, “[Those artists] having to at some point go through kitchens to even be able to perform for an audience, but they had to leave back through that same door, fear for their lives as they went to the next state to do the same thing. So I’m coming through the front door with this one.”
Usher also recognized he “didn’t start where I am now, and I didn’t get there by myself.” So, he also wants his Super Bowl show to give love to “everybody that has been part of [his journey.]”
In his 30-year career, Usher has worked with a lot of stars, meaning that he has a huge contacts list to scan through for potential halftime show collaborators. It’s unlikely that he’ll get Beyonce or Jay-Z to do “Love in This Club Part II” or “Hot Tottie” with him, respectively. He’s worked on multiple songs with Diddy and Chris Brown, but their controversies would likely overshadow the performance. And with Usher saying he wants to focus on R&B, rappers like Future, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross could be out of the running.
With that said, here’s a look at some of the stars that could join him on Sunday, February 11.
Lil Jon and Ludacris
Usher playing Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show and not doing “Yeah!” would be like the NFL not showing Swift cheering even once during the game. Whether Lil Jon and Ludacris could pop out for a brief cameo when revisiting this hit is TBD, but it could be a safe bet
Similar to how everyone expects Usher to play “Yeah” and “Confessions Part II,” he would be remiss to not play “My Boo,” his collab with Alicia Keys. Keys would also be a great partner if Usher wanted to cover some classic R&B duets.
Boyz II Men
The legend is that LaFace cofounder L.A. Reid signed a teenage Usher after hearing him cover Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” during an audition. Having them part of the R&B celebration would literally celebrate the people who helped Usher launch his career. The group currently performs with members Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanyá Morris. They’re booked to perform at Foxwoods Casino on February 10, but have no gigs lined up for February 11 – the date of Super Bowl LVIII.
Considered one of the greatest R&B performers of all time, Smokey Robinson would help Usher fulfill his mission of turning the halftime show into an R&B celebration. In addition to Robinson’s work with The Miracles and his solo hits (“Being with You,” “Cruisin”), he put out Gasms in 2023, a concept album about sex and other forms of pleasure. It seems perfect for Sin City.
Brandy and Monica
Brandy and Monica reunited for a Verzuz battle in 2020 and 1.2 million viewers watched them squash any notion of past feuds while celebrating each other’s musical legacy. So, it’s not unimaginable to picture Usher recruiting them to recreate their 1998 hit, “The Boy is Mine,” during the halftime Show.
This is more of a longshot considering Usher’s focus on celebrating R&B’s past with his halftime show, but considering how his Raymond-Braun Media Group was the label that gave Bieber his big break in 2008, this could be a full-circle moment for both Justin and Usher. The twosome also teamed up on “First Dance” and “Somebody to Love,” two songs from early on in Bieber’s career.
Due to health reasons, Bieber has been absent from the stage, but he confirmed he’s back in action when he performed his first concert in over a year on February 1. While in Toronto for the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend, Bieber played an intimate set of his greatest hits at Drake’s club History. It might have been a good warm-up for the big game on Sunday.