Super Bowl 2024 halftime show prop bets: Usher's first song, Alicia Keys, other guests and more

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It’s Usher, baby! The living, breathing pillar of charisma and talent that is Usher Raymond IV will be headlining the 2024 Super Bowl, after closing out a dizzyingly popular Las Vegas residency. Usher is one of our most talented musicians – some (me) might say a national treasure – whose decades-spanning career has shaped the face of the music industry. To say nothing of the personal magnetism that has made him such an arresting figure in nearly every clique in entertainment culture, from the 2019 film Hustlers to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series.

Usher may have closed out his Las Vegas residency in December – after extending it twice thanks to booming sales – but the love in this club will be back in town on Super Bowl Sunday. The mononymous “King of R&B” is helming the Vegas Super Bowl halftime show and, if my group chats and the internet are any indication, it will be a cultural event to rival the best halftime performances of all time.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Usher’s debut album in 1994, and if you somehow don’t already know: He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, a fashion icon, sex symbol, eight-time Grammy award-winner and owner of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – just to name a few of his accolades. In his three-decade career, Usher has released eight studio albums, 10 compilation albums, eight EPs and 81 singles. He has nine Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles.

This Friday, two days before his Super Bowl performance, he’s dropping a new album, “Coming Home,” which features two more singles that are out now. He’s also a Super Bowl veteran after joining The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am on stage in 2011 to perform their collaboration, “OMG.”

Oh, and did I mention his dancing? GIRL.

The halftime show is always a popular event for betting – whether that’s a real-money wager on a sportsbook or a pick among friends on your party prop sheet. Are these silly bets to wager money on? Absolutely. But props like this are fun, and they’re accessible to Super Bowl super-fans and casual viewers alike. You don’t have to know anything about Christian McCaffrey to wager on Usher. So, let’s dig deep into our play logic and make some picks.

First song


Odds from BetMGM.

This question has my group chat in a chokehold. What will Usher perform first? When those dulcet tones first reach our ears, which of our favorite tracks will it be?

First song is arguably the top Super Bowl halftime show market every year. Will the artist go with their most popular song by sheer numbers? Looking at you, Black Eyed Peas and “I Gotta Feeling.” A fan favorite? Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg went this route with “The Next Episode.” Or, there’s Lady Gaga’s “I’m-charting-my-own-course” approach: Starting with a protest song you were hitherto not known for (“God Bless America/This Land is Your Land”).

We can look to the setlist from Usher’s residency for clues into his brain (we wish). He most often started with “My Way” as an opener, followed by “Caught Up,” “U Don’t Have to Call,” and “Love In This Club.” The roughly two-hour set would end with a knockout combo of “Burn, “Confessions,” “Confessions Part II,” “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” “OMG,” and “Yeah!” (Basically the soundtrack of my high school and college career? Really dating myself here.)

“Yeah!” opened as the favorite with +225 odds, but has dropped as people started betting. I think “Yeah!” has big finale energy, so I agree with that movement. “My Way” makes sense as a favorite since it’s his concert starter, but for the Super Bowl, I don’t think it has the same cultural ubiquity as, say “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” “Love in This Club,” or “OMG.” They’re massive, upbeat hits that even my grandmother will recognize and be able to sing along to. “Burn” is a little too slow for a starter and “Boyfriend” is a little too new?

My personal choice is “OMG.” Close your eyes and imagine Usher’s iconic “Oh my gosh” cutting through a darkened Allegiant Stadium. The crowd goes wild. Women faint. Grown men scream with excitement. You get it. Plus, it’s good for a stadium; there’s plenty of chanting loops for the crowd to join in.

Counterpoint to myself: He already performed this with will.i.am at the 2011 Super Bowl. Will he do a repeat? I’m playing myself here, I know.

Last Song

I think Usher will finish with “Yeah!” It’s the favorite in a few Canadian sportsbooks, but you can still get plus-money on it. The options for last song are similar to first song.

In past Super Bowls, artists have picked a crowd pleaser or their biggest hit to go out on, including “Fix You” for Coldplay, “Blinding Lights” for The Weeknd, “Still D.R.E.” for Dr. Dre/Snoop/Eminem/Kendrick Lamar/Mary J. Blige, “Diamonds” for Rihanna, “Halo” for Beyonce and “Bad Romance” for Lady Gaga. You get the drift.

For the last song, it’s all about going big and going home. It’s hard to top “Yeah!” in terms of crowd excitement and cultural clout, so why make any other song follow it?

Number of songs

The halftime show is a sprint through the hits. With just around 12-15 minutes of runtime, artists usually don’t perform any song from start to finish. They’ll do shortened, remixed, or mashed-up songs to make sure they hit all the fan favorites.

Usher’s total set at 8.5 songs feels low to me. On the Billboard Hot 100, Usher has had 18 top-10 hits, including nine No. 1 hits. He’s known for remixes, too, so I think he’ll stuff the performance as much as he can by creatively combining songs.

Last year, Rihanna fit 15 songs into just a little over 13 minutes. I believe in Usher. Betting the over.

Here’s the number of songs in the last four Super Bowls:

  • Jennifer Lopez (JLo) and Shakira raced through 17 songs in Super Bowl 54.
  • The Weeknd performed nine in Super Bowl 55.
  • Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar combined for 11 songs in Super Bowl 56.
  • Rihanna clocked 15 total songs in Super Bowl 57.

Usher and Alicia Keys performed together at a 2005 fundraiser in New York City. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

Potential guests

Usher has a deep bench of collaborators. His star-studded list of collaborations includes Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Lil Jon, will.i.am, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Drake, DJ Khaled, Savage, H.E.R. and K-Pop superstar Jungkook. (Now it just sounds like I’m naming famous people.) We don’t know of any confirmed guests yet, and not every halftime performer brings guests. Rihanna went solo last year, as did The Weeknd in Super Bowl 55 and Lady Gaga in Super Bowl 51, among others.

Canadian sportsbooks have Alicia Keys -550 as the favorite. Both Keys and Usher have been judges on “The Voice,” though in different seasons, and they collaborated on the massive No. 1 hit “My Boo” in 2004. Keys is also connected to Jay-Z, who produces the halftime show through his label Roc Nation, and she’s an R&B icon – a genre Usher has promised to celebrate during his show.

She’s my pick for a party prop, but if you’re able to bet these odds, they’re not great for the cash return.

After Keys in the odds, we’ve got Post Malone -440. We know he’ll at least be in attendance to sing “America the Beautiful” before the game starts. Next comes Ludacris and Lil Jon at -286 and -333. If you want better odds, will.i.am is at +158 and Nicki Minaj is at +270. Nicki could be a good bet, as her recent public feud with Megan Thee Stallion has turned into big bucks and publicity for them both.

(I don’t know about y’all, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Keke Palmer sighting! Her reaction to an Usher serenade last year made her an instant avatar for women around the world.)

A few final Usher bets

You’ve arrived at the lightning round. Let’s hit a few more of our favorite party props for the Super Bowl halftime show. For those of you new to sports betting, remember that + odds are more of a longshot, – odds are more of a favorite. (Or see our full odds explainer here.)

How many times will Usher shout “Vegas” during his performance?

Over 2.5 (-155); Under 2.5 (+115)

My pick: Over

How many artists will collaborate with Usher?

Over 3.5 (+170); Under 3.5 (-260)

My pick: Under

How many outfit changes?

Over 1.5 (-140); Under 1.5 (+110)

My pick: Over

Will Usher wear Jordans during his performance?

Jordans (+250); Any other brand (-400)

My pick: Why not Jordans?

Will Usher wear a hat at the beginning?

Yes (-150); No (+130)

My pick: No

Will Usher be wearing sunglasses during his first song?

Yes (-175); No (+130)

My pick: Yes

Will Usher debut a new song?

Yes (+170); No (-260)

My pick: Yes

Get the group chat ready. What are your picks for halftime show props?


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(Top illustration: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; photos: Scott Legato and Candice Ward / Getty Images)