Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime performance earned gold stars for the R&B star’s suave — and seemingly tireless — delivery of his classic hits. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the negative criticism of the show has been pointed at one of his special guests, Alicia Keys, who delivered a rendition of her 2003 hit, “If I Ain’t Got You.”
Standing out in a glimmering red ensemble that ruffled out into an elongated cape, Keys began her performance by launching into a high soprano that briefly morphed into a croak as the cape dropped. Clips of the botched note spread like wildfire across the internet as critics flocked to dissect it while fans rushed to her defense.
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In the aftermath, the NFL and Apple Music have edited the clam out of the re-uploaded Halftime show on YouTube, and the difference in Keys’ vocals is uncanny. Online, users have pointed out the polished editing with play-by-play comparisons of the live taping and the freshly re-uploaded, and pitch-corrected, show.
Variety has reached out to representatives for Keys and Apple Music for clarification.
Meanwhile, Keys’ husband, veteran music producer Swizz Beatz, came to his wife’s defense on Monday with an Instagram post writing, “Y’all talking about the wrong damn thing !!!”
“Y’all don’t see that amazing dress covering the entire stadium,” he said. “Tonight’s performance was nothing but amazing with 2 amazing Giants ! Congrats @usher and my love @aliciakeys that song is a classic. We don’t do negative vibes on this side we make history.”
Keys also joined Usher for a performance of their 2004 single “My Boo,” as the pair embraced to conclude Keys’ guest slot. As Usher cozied up behind Keys, the pair were both equally criticized online for their closeness since both singers are in long-term relationships. Still, it was Keys’ vocal tie-up that took the center of any negative attention.
Ahead of the Halftime show, viewers were not sure what Usher would be delivering on the big night. Following Rihanna’s 2023 performance, Usher similarly paid tribute to his rich catalog, touting hits like “Daddy’s Home,” “Yeah!” and more. Aside from Keys, Usher also welcomed Lil Jon, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R. and will.i.am.
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