Pretty much as soon as it was announced that Usher would be headlining the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, people began to speculate that Justin Bieber would come out as one of his surprise guests.
In case you didn’t know, Usher is widely credited for Justin’s ascent into superstardom, with the R&B star mentoring the teen after a chance meeting in 2008.
Usher even appeared in the music video for Justin’s first ever single, “One Time,” and they have collaborated on other musical projects in the years since.
So, with it a known fact that the Super Bowl’s halftime performer will normally bring out a famous guest or two, it’s unsurprising that many immediately thought of Usher’s former protégé once his name was announced.
This would have marked Justin’s first live performance in almost a year, with the 29-year-old star largely retreating from the spotlight in 2022 due to health concerns. In June of that year, Justin was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which causes temporary paralysis in half of his face.
Justin ended up canceling the rest of his Justice world tour as a result, and has kept his public appearances to a minimum ever since.
However, at the start of this year, Justin appeared to tease a much-anticipated comeback when he shared photos of himself in what looked like a makeshift studio alongside the caption: “Excited for this next year. New beginnings.”
He followed up with photos of himself seemingly rehearsing a performance, fueling growing excitement that he was going to join Usher on stage on Sunday.
But, as I am sure you are aware, Justin did no such thing.
While he did attend the Super Bowl, and was shown enthusiastically watching the game from the crowd, he didn’t go anywhere near the halftime stage — with Usher bringing out a bevy of other stars, including Alicia Keys and Ludacris, instead.
And the reason why Justin opted out of an appearance has now been revealed, with a source confirming to Page Six that he was invited by Usher.
The insider then explained: “There’s no bad blood between Usher and Justin. Justin just wasn’t up for it — he just wasn’t feeling it.”
They went on to say that Usher tried his best to persuade Justin because he wanted to pay tribute to their history together, but Justin simply wasn’t keen.
And it appears as though Justin actually preferred being able to watch the show from his spot in the crowd, with the star sharing a photo from Usher’s performance to his Instagram page on Monday and writing: “LOVE YOU MY BROTHER NOONE CAN SING AND DANCE THE WAY YOU DO.”
“LOVE YOU FROM THE DEPTHS OF MY HEART,” he added. “BROUGHT THE “A” TO THE WORLD, ONLY YOU BABYYYYYY 😘”
In the post’s comment section, many admitted to feeling hoodwinked by Justin’s no-show as they made reference to the fact that he has been teasing a return to the stage.
“You played us like a fiddle,” one person commented. Another echoed: “You KNEW we were waiting for you to get on stage 🤬.”
“Justin that was heart wrenching lowkey babe,” somebody else wrote. One more added: “Did you get lost on the way to the stage?! Where were you 😭😭”
But others have praised the singer for refusing to bow to public pressure or expectations, and instead setting a healthy boundary. Discussing Justin’s decision on a Reddit forum, one person wrote: “Good for him for not pushing himself to do something that he wasn’t up to.”
Another agreed: “Good for him. That’s usually why I decline plans, it’s reasonable to just NOT want to do something. It’s powerful to put yourself first and actually decline, instead of doing what society demands.”
“That is 100% valid!” somebody else said. “I turn down stuff all the time for the same reason - and I don't have an audience of millions ready to critique or criticize every move I make.”
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