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Usher defends intimate moment with Alicia Keys at the Super Bowl

Usher has defended his close hug with Alicia Keys during their duet at the Super Bowl 2024 Halftime Show.

On social media, some viewers questioned how tightly Usher grasped the singer as they performed their 2004 collaboration “My Boo.”

Keys has been married to music producer Swizz Beatz since 2010.

Speaking on New York-based radio show The Breakfast Club, Usher said that he and Swizz Beatz had laughed about the reaction.

“It’s crazy how people think,” he said. “It’s all about how you present things, man, it’s all about love.”

Usher described his passionate duet with Keys as “literally about having fun because of a song me and Alicia made many years ago and we celebrate it because of the legacy of it”.

He added that there was “no disrespect” intended toward anyone.

Usher and Alicia Keys perform onstage during the 2024 Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show (Getty Images)
Usher and Alicia Keys perform onstage during the 2024 Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show (Getty Images)

Swizz Beatz, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, had previously hit back at the reaction on social media. “Y’all talking about the wrong damn thing !!!” he wrote on Instagram. “Y’all don’t see that amazing dress covering the entire stadium. Tonight’s performance was nothing but amazing with 2 amazing Giants!”.

Meanwhile, the sound of Keys’ voice cracking at the start of her performance has been edited out of the official YouTube video uploaded by the National Football League (NFL).

As well as Keys, Usher was also joined by guests including Lil Jon, Ludacris and HER.

Despite rumours before the show, one guest who didn’t join Usher was Justin Bieber.

Usher confirmed that he approached Bieber, but that he passed on the opportunity. “I honor and recognize the fact that my brother… I think it might have just been that he’s just wanting to tell a different story right now, and I did understand that,” Usher told The Breakfast Club. “We did have a brief conversation, and we’re gonna do something else in the future.”

Usher added: “No love lost or anything like that. It’s a lot of pressure for the Super Bowl, obviously, for me to put together a show. I reached out to everybody. Justin wasn’t the only person I spoke to about doing the Super Bowl, but the moment was maybe for later.”

In a three-star review of Usher’s Super Bowl set, The Independent’s Mark Beaumont wrote: “Just as we start writing Usher off as the cheesiest halftime show since Walt Disney on ice, here’s Alicia Keys at a liquid red piano, decked out like a scarlet queen for an awkward shimmy through ‘I Ain’t Got You’ and ‘My Boo’.”