The set took place over the weekend (February 11), when the R&B star became the latest artist to perform at the iconic Halftime show during the 58th instalment of the Super Bowl. Held at Allegiant Stadium, the event saw the San Francisco 49ers face off against defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs, with the latter ultimately taking the victory.
On the night, Usher was joined by an array of surprise guests, including Alicia Keys, H.E.R and will.i.am, however, some fans were quick to notice that the musician’s longtime friend Justin Bieber did not take part.
According to new reports, Bieber was offered the opportunity to join the singer on stage, but turned it down because he “wasn’t feeling it”.
The explanations were shared to Page Six by anonymous sources in the music industry, and stated that the ‘Sorry’ singer preferred to watch the show with his wife, Hailey, from a $2.5million suite at the stadium.
“There’s no bad blood between Usher and Justin. Justin just wasn’t up for it — he just wasn’t feeling it,” the source added.
It also claimed that Usher tried his best to persuade Bieber to take part – particularly because of their long history working together. This comes as Usher played a vital role in Bieber’s fame as a musician: duetting on the 2010 song ‘Somebody to Love’ after the pop star was discovered by music mogul Scooter Braun aged 13.
The decision to sit out of the Halftime show, which was reportedly watched by over 30million households across the US, may be related to Bieber’s increasing time out of the spotlight in recent years. As highlighted by Page Six, back in 2019 the singer opened up about his ongoing struggle with anxiety. Later, in 2022, he also took a break from performing live – cancelling all of the remaining live shows for his ‘Justice’ tour after being diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
Although performing significantly less than in earlier years of his career, Bieber did recently take to the stage for the first time in more than a year earlier this month – playing an intimate gig at Drake’s History Club in Toronto.
Elsewhere at Usher’s Halftime performance, the singer brought out Alicia Keys as a surprise guest. Seated behind a piano, she began by performing her own song ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ before Usher joined her to deliver a rendition of their 2004 collaboration ‘My Boo’.
Later, he welcomed more guests throughout the set: H.E.R. joined him on guitar during ‘U Got It Bad’ and will.i.am appeared during ‘OMG’. The latter also saw Usher recreate a roller-skating performance from his Las Vegas residency.
Lil Jon also appeared in the on-field crowd for a snippet of his song ‘Turn Down For What’ before joining the headliner and Ludacris for ‘Yeah!’. Usher also performed with an unmanned gold drumkit behind him – placed there in tribute to late collaborator Aaron Spears.