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How Usher Regained His Crown

Updated: Mar 5


The R&B legend's avalanche began with a pivotal cameo appearance from 2019

Usher is the must-see performer of 2024. Full stop. While Beyoncé owned stages around the globe for the majority of last year, Ursh shined on the undercard out in Las Vegas, prompting lovers (and friends) of R&B to make a pilgrimage to Sin City to attend his residency. The world got a taste of that experience on Sunday, when the 45-year-old singer—whose Coming Home album dropped last Friday—put on a 13-minute, career-spanning masterclass during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, though. He’s taking that show on the road beginning in August. If you’re reading this, you’re likely already at the mercy of ticket resellers.

We are firmly in the era of Usher’s renaissance—dude is hotter than wasabi right now. But this return to the throne has been loading for nearly half a decade, a steady buildup brought about by an imperfect sequence of events. Here’s how Usher got his groove back, nice & slow.

October 2019: Summer Walker drops her debut album Over It, featuring the single Come Thru,” which co-stars Usher and samples his 1997 classic “You Make Me Wanna...” Climbing to No. 42 on the Billboard 100, it ended a three-year drought on that chart—and served as a reminder that Usher nostalgia is the best kind of nostalgia.

December 2019: Usher followed up with another cross-generational duet—“Don’t Waste My Time”— with Ella Mai. That record (and its cameo-packed music video) is a whole-ass vibe, but it failed to become ubiquitous, perhaps, in part, due to unfortunate timing (see: the whole planet shutting down). It paved the way for a string of 2020 singles (“Sexbeat,” “California”) that also didn’t match his previous successes.

July 2021: The Vegas takeover begins. Usher’s first residency found a home at Caesars Palace—it was a celebration of nearly three decades of greatness. The roller skating and choreography captivated attendees; the serenading made headlines. More on that later. 

June 2022: Usher’s Tiny Desk promptly breaks the internet. You saw the memes, but you also watched a master of his craft run through his greatest hits in a small setting, falsetto as pristine as ever. He embarked on his second residency the following month, this time taking over MGM Grand Las Vegas. 

Summer 2023: Usher had already made a habit of intimately singing to concert guests—especially famous ones like Janelle Monaé, Winnie Harlow, and A'ja Wilson. But his serenade of Keke Palmer became a whole situation, no Jersey Shore. The following month, he and Keke collaborated for a single and music video called “Boyfriend.” It was chef’s kiss troll perfection. “Good Good,” with 21 Savage and Summer Walker, followed, hitting No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another one.

February 2024: Usher drops Coming Home, his first album since 2018. Days later, he takes the Super Bowl Halftime stage. He sings. He skates. He dances. He takes off his shirt. He gives social media much to talk about. Usher is back on top. Let it burn.


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