The Usher Super Bowl Halftime Moments, Ranked

They only way to spice up nearly two hours of a boring, poorly played first half of football is with a 15-minute Usher Las Vegas residency for a halftime show. It feels strange to be in the age range where all of culture now feels the need to pander to your nostalgia, but it’s here. Sometimes it’s powerfully insulting. At other times, like last night, it’s fun.

Usher put on a good show, but more importantly he put on a very Usher show. He is as dependable as a homecooked meal at your mom’s house. Equal parts ridiculous spectacle and show-stopping romanticism, Usher’s tour through the music of the 2000s was exciting, even at moments when it should’ve been a little cringe. This is just as I remember the 2000s themselves, so it worked. Here are the best moments of the show, ranked from best to most best.

23. Tron-mode will.i.am

will.i.am/Twitter

It’s not bad enough that he ruined music in the late 2000s and early 2010s by bringing R&B/hip-hop into its EDM era, will.i.am now shows up here as the bootleg barbershop DVD version of a Tron character during “OMG.” This guy looks like the worst villain ever in Ready Player One.

22. Sparkly outfits

21. Acrobats

20. Trapeze artists

19. Showgirls with peacock feathers

It’s a Vegas show and the Vegas-ness is right up front and center. So many sparkles involved in this show. Once you start wearing sparkly Rollerball outfits, I think I have to draw the line.

18. Jackson State marching band

Since Prince brought out Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 during his halftime show, it feels like a lot of artists have incorporated HBCU bands into their shows. This is a great development, but unfortunately Jackson State isn’t FAMU so they aren’t higher on my list here. Shout out to them all the same, though.

17. Usher ballads

I get it, but we’re here to party, not to revisit childhood heartbreaks that may or may not have been soundtracked by “Burn.”

16. “Turn Down For What”

No amount of time can pass to make me miss this godforsaken song.

15. Alicia Keys’s missing note

Where in the world did you go, note? Why did you not arrive on time for Ms. Keys to find you? She even seemed surprised when she tried to reach you during “If I Ain’t Got You,” only you were nowhere to be found. You can’t leave your singer in the lurch like that, please come home! Oh wait … they found you after all!

14. “U Don’t Have To Call” choreography

13. “U Got It Bad” choreography

Do I have very vivid memories of coming home from school and watching these videos on 106 & Park or TRL and trying to memorize the entire routines in my living room? Were those memories awakened during these moments in last night’s show? Stop asking so many questions!

12. “Love In This Club”

The rendition of this song using the marching band is probably the best that track has ever sounded to me.

11. H.E.R. guitar solo

Very seriously, the hottest she has ever been in her career thus far.

10. Usher serenading Alicia Keys

9. Usher taking his shirt off

Usher, you need to relax—the NFL has a habit of punishing people who get too sexy! Stop it!

8. Jermaine Dupri’s Victorian-era moment

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Look at this little guy! Is he the main character in Tyler Perry’s Oliver Twist? This Üter from The Simpsons-ass outfit. Who told him it was OK to wear this? Who do I need to thank?

7. No cutaway shots of Taylor Swift in the luxury box

I would’ve bet my entire life savings on reaction shots of her dancing with Ice Spice and Brittany Mahomes in the luxury box. As you can see, I’m not the best at gambling.

6. Roller skating

5. Pole dancers

4. Swole Lil Jon

Traded in crunk for gains. My guy looks good, I’m proud of him.

3. Ludacris and his American Gladiators suit

Well, well, well, look who showed up, outfit ridiculous, in the club looking so conspicuous.

2. Beyoncé stealing Usher’s thunder

An unnecessary Verizon Super Bowl commercial and releasing two new songs in the middle of the Super Bowl was certainly a heat check, but probably did more to distract from Usher’s coronation as a legend than from the game. (The songs are fine.)

1. “Yeah” as the closing number

I called it, but it was obvious they were gonna end with it. And on a night filled with dubious playcalling, it was the correct choice. They A-Town stomped and thunder clapped their way into the history books.

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