Usher found fitting three decades of successful music into a super-short Super Bowl halftime show a challenge, but the multiple Grammy winner decided to concentrate on past hits, moments from his popular Las Vegas residency and possibly draw from his new album.
“It definitely has been a challenge to squeeze 30 years into 13 minutes,” he said when he addressed the media Thursday in advance of Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will be held at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, with the San Francisco 49ers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He said he’s been asking himself, “What songs do people know me for, what songs have been a celebration of all of the journey?”
But he gave no specific clues on where that process led him, and what his take on the global spectacle will look like.
Nor did he drop names of who might be joining him on stage, though he did drop vague hints, and confirmed that he won’t be alone at Allegiant Stadium, and like most Super Bowl performers will have guest stars.
He suggested it would be people he’s collaborated with before.
“I think I made it easy for myself when I decided to have featured artists on songs that became hit records. That gave me the greatest inspiration,” he said. “I have definitely gone through a lot of ideas of who I would have go through this moment with me
That hardly narrows it down, however, given all the folks he’s collaborated with, from Beyonce to Monica to Nicki Minaj to Lil Jon.
Usher was a Super Bowl guest star himself, with Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am in 2011. He told The Associated Press previously that he’d use that performance as a “cheat sheet” for Sunday’s show.
On Thursday, he said he had a harrowing moment getting there.
“My hand got caught on a wire that was holding me 30 feet in the air, and I almost missed my entrance,” he said.
He still managed to hit is mark – in the splits. But he would prefer to avoid that kind of mishap.
Usher said he definitely aims to bring the flavor of the city where he made his musical name to his show. His 100-show local residency last year was a perfect workshop to help make that happen.
“I’ve been able to bring a great deal of Atlanta and the melting pot that it is, musically and culturally, to Las Vegas,” he said. “It wasn’t easy to do but I turned Vegas into Atlanta. I took the V and turned it upside down.”
He’ll have a hard time topping the reveal that Rihanna gave, when she chose her Super Bowl performance last year to show and tell the world she was pregnant with her second child.
Usher spoke to the media not in a traditional news conference format but via an interview with Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis in front of an audience full of reporters that was streamed on its platform and social media sites.
It’s a busy week for the megastar, who is releasing his latest album on Friday and has just announced a North American tour.