AFP12 February 2024 | 4:32

Beyoncé, Taylor Swift command conversation as Usher helms halftime

Beyoncé was in attendance and announced a new album during a commercial she did with Verizon, while Swift was the night's most-watched fan as she cheered on her boyfriend Travis Kelce.

Beyoncé, Taylor Swift command conversation as Usher helms halftime

US singer-songwriter Usher performs during Apple Music halftime show of Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on 11 February 2024. Picture: AFP

LAS VEGAS, United States - Usher delivered a Las Vegas-appropriate set heavy on glitz, choreography and nostalgia as he headlined Sunday's Super Bowl halftime show, but it was new music from Beyoncé 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.

Swift's relationship with the charismatic 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.

Beyoncé was also in attendance with her hip-hop mogul husband Jay-Z - and announced a new album during a commercial she did with Verizon, in which she repeatedly tries to "break the internet."

The ad closes with the line: "Drop the music."

Moments later on Instagram, Beyoncé announced with another clip that her eighth studio album is due 29 March. The post didn't give a title but simply said Act II; her blockbuster album Renaissance had been branded Act I.

Shortly thereafter the Beyhive had two brand new songs to listen to: the twangy Texas Hold 'Em and 16 Carriages implied Beyoncé'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 forthcoming studio album The Tortured Poets Department, out 19 April.

America's megastars Beyoncé and Swift both 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.

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 and OMG.

It wasn't his 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 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 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.

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

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

It wouldn't be an Usher show if he didn't eventually lose his shirt, which he dropped for U Got It Bad.

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

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

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

By AFP, 12 February 2024