First, though, Justin Bieber made an appearance to praise his own idol from the audience. "He's been a great influence," Bieber said of Usher, who won a bidding war with Justin Timberlake to sign the teen superstar. "He's kinda shaped who I am as an artist."
Then the man himself sashayed in silhouette down the stairs and onto the stage to perform "OMG," the new single from his album Raymond v. Raymond, which dropped Tuesday.
Wearing a black bowler and matching black suit with silver lapels, Usher looked like a more stylish member of the gang from "A Clockwork Orange." But his companions were dancers, not droogs, as well as Black Eyed Peas mastermind Will.I.Am, reprising his verse on the poppy Auto-Tune number.
The audience joined in on the tune, singing and clapping along to the chorus as flames and other pyrotechnics blasted behind the performers. While "OMG" doesn't highlight the singer's vocal talents, Usher more than made up with a kinetic showcase of nonstop dancing.
"Part of the reason why I did this album was so you can understand the full spectrum of who I am as an artist," Usher told MTV News recently about Raymond v. Raymond. "My life has been kinda played out as a journey and going through different chapters, with the albums representing the chapters. It's the sixth album for me. And when I look back to the people that I admire, I admire people who take you on a journey to where they have been, musically, places they have gone; the culture of that time that affected them, the cultural movement. All of that, they figured out a way to encompass it in the music they made. That's what this album is."
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