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He didn’t offer specific details at a press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, but the singer said he would incorporate elements of his uber-successful Sin City residency, which includes him dancing and singing while skating.
“I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present, which is here in Las Vegas, and thinking about where we are headed in the future,” he told Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis onstage. “What songs do people know me for? What songs have been a celebration of [my career]? That was the idea.”
Usher has collaborated with acts like Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Justin Bieber, Jungkook of BTS, J Balvin, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Lil Jon and Jay-Z, who is executive producing the halftime show for a fifth time. The eight-time Grammy winner has launched 18 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including nine No.1s, from “Nice & Slow” to “Yeah!” to “Confessions Part II.” He will release a new album, Coming Home, on Friday.
“I have definitely gone through a lot of ideas of who I would have go through this moment with me,” he said. “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.”
The Super Bowl will air live on CBS from Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, where the defending champs Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers. This year Usher is celebrating several milestones: It’s the 20th anniversary of his diamond-certified 2004 album Confessions and the 30th anniversary of his self-titled debut, which was released in 1994 when he was just 15.
“It definitely has been a challenge to squeeze 30 years into 13 minutes,” he said.
The 45-year-old singer previously performed at the 2011 halftime show as a special guest alongside the Black Eyed Peas. Of that performance, he recalled: “My hand got caught on a wire that was holding me 30 feet in the air, and I almost missed my entrance.”
But he prevailed. And he says he plans to do the same on Sunday — especially by bringing his hometown of Atlanta to Vegas: “It wasn’t easy to do but I turned Vegas into Atlanta. I took the V and turned it upside down.”
Before Usher’s interview, Reba McEntire (“The Star Spangled Banner”), Post Malone (“America the Beautiful”) and Andra Day (Lift Every Voice and Sing”) talked about how they were preparing for their pre-show performances.
The conference also included CODA actor Daniel Durant, who will perform the national anthem in ASL; actress, model and dancer Anjel Piñero, who will sign “America the Beautiful”; and actor and choreographer Shaheem Sanchez, who will sign “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Apple Music broadcasted the interview on its platform and social media sites like YouTube.