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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tremendous Bowl LVIII is Usher’s present : NPR

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Usher — the chart-topping singer-songwriter — shall be this yr’s halftime performer. With a catalog stuffed with bangers, how will he squeeze 30 years of music into simply 13 minutes?



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now to the Tremendous Bowl, the place a beloved singer shall be taking middle stage on Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “YEAH!”)

USHER: Peace up. A-City down.

SHAPIRO: Usher, the chart-topping singer/songwriter, shall be this yr’s halftime performer. It is his first time on stage on the Tremendous Bowl since a visitor look in 2011. So how will he squeeze 30 years of music into simply 13 minutes? NPR music editor Sheldon Pearce is right here to speak about it. Hey there.

SHELDON PEARCE, BYLINE: Hello, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What’s Usher been as much as lately?

PEARCE: Nicely, you understand, Usher’s inventory is method up proper now. It is form of attention-grabbing. Within the late 2010s, he was type of simply hanging round. He had a 2018 collaboration he launched with the rap producer Zaytoven that felt fairly low-stakes and did not fairly land…

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “STAY AT HOME”)

USHER: (Rapping) Until you been driving me loopy, until you been driving me loopy, who you been texting every day? Who you been texting every day?

PEARCE: …And in 2019, he returned to his swiveling chair on “The Voice.”

However post-pandemic, he has seen a little bit of a resurgence. He had a viral second proper right here on the Tiny Desk in 2022.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

USHER: Watch this.

(LAUGHTER)

USHER: (Singing) Simply once I thought I mentioned all I can say, my chick on the facet say she obtained one on the way in which. These are my confessions…

PEARCE: And he is been doing this residency in Las Vegas that has been actually, actually profitable, and he had one other stint in Paris. He simply dropped an album forward of this Tremendous Bowl efficiency, and it virtually feels prefer it exists primarily to bolster that efficiency.

SHAPIRO: What is the response to the brand new album been thus far?

PEARCE: I believe it has been fairly optimistic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BOP”)

USHER: (Singing) Do not let this flip right into a bop. Mi amor, ti adore – cannot get you off my thoughts. I take into consideration you on a regular basis. Some days I lay at the hours of darkness and keep within the blind.

PEARCE: It is type of what you’d anticipate from Usher – this supreme show of professionalism and polish. It explores a number of the acquainted Usher modes, however with nice ability – form of working the gamut as a R&B masterclass. And since a lot of recent R&B is about vibes and ambiance, it may be refreshing to listen to a seasoned artist be so, like, craft-focused. On the middle is the club-adjacent pop R&B he has trafficked in all through the late levels of his profession and with songs like “Maintain On Dancing,” which feels each form of retro and trendy on the identical time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “KEEP ON DANCIN'”)

USHER: (Singing) When the music goes off and the DJ’s going residence, get again out on that flooring and carry on dancing. Acquired to maintain on dancing. Even when the music stops…

PEARCE: Lyrics that talk on to Usher’s ethos of staying out on the dance flooring as a metaphor for persevering via a turbulent romance – all of it feels deeply linked to every little thing he is carried out up so far.

SHAPIRO: Each Tremendous Bowl efficiency is a little bit bit totally different, incorporates some surprises. Any guesses of what we must always anticipate from Usher’s?

PEARCE: Nicely, you understand, I would not be stunned to see Usher a minimum of form of take a look at the waters for a few of this new music, particularly with a world tour arising later this yr. However I believe his set will lean closely on form of the classics of his early discography. I would not anticipate something crazily groundbreaking – in all probability extra within the realm of dramatic shows of virtuosity. He has a historical past of form of connecting with the music of previous entertainers. He is carried out with James Brown, with Michael Jackson. On the 2020 Grammys, he did a tribute efficiency within the function of Prince.

(SOUNDBITE OF 62ND GRAMMY AWARDS BROADCAST)

USHER: (Singing) Do not should be stunning to show me on.

PEARCE: So I do anticipate no matter he does to attach his legacy work with that of Black pop music typically.

SHAPIRO: Nicely, give us your predictions. What do you suppose goes to occur on Sunday?

PEARCE: Nicely, you understand, I can not think about a world through which he would not do “Yeah!” So perhaps he brings out Lil Jon and Ludacris with him.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “YEAH!”)

USHER: (Rapping) Yeah.

LIL JON: (Rapping) Hey, hey, Luda (ph).

USHER: (Rapping) Yeah.

LUDACRIS: (Rapping) Be careful, my outfit’s ridiculous. Within the membership wanting so conspicuous…

PEARCE: And perhaps there’s an Alicia Keys duet within the works.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “MY BOO”)

ALICIA KEYS: (Singing) I used to be there…

ALICIA KEYS AND USHER: (Singing) And also you have been my child.

USHER: (Singing) It began once we have been youthful – you have been mine.

PEARCE: However I actually do suppose it will play strongly off the Las Vegas residency, which – these units leaned into him being form of this grown and horny performer – you understand, tremendous match, abs out, gyrating, some stage of theatricality, perhaps pyrotechnics, backup dancers and the like. However he has additionally mentioned that he desires to attach with and honor artists on this efficiency, and the Vegas residency did see him bringing out R&B performers throughout eras – Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, Robin Thicke, Religion Evans and Ashanti, even – so maybe there’s something in retailer that places his music in dialog with the broader R&B legacy. I believe, in both case, he plans to place the standard glitz and pageantry of Vegas on full show.

SHAPIRO: NPR’s Sheldon Pearce, thanks loads.

PEARCE: Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “DJ GOT US FALLIN’ IN LOVE”)

USHER: (Singing) Trigger child, tonight, the DJ obtained us falling in love once more – in love once more. Yeah, child, tonight, the DJ obtained us falling in love once more – in love once more. So dance, dance, prefer it’s the final, final evening of your life, life, gon’ (ph) get you proper.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content is probably not in its remaining kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could range. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.

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