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Usher Tribute at BET Awards Disappoints Viewers

Aside from what many expected, BET opted for a mostly female-led lifetime achievement award tribute performance in honor of Usher’s enduring legacy and 30-year career.

Live from the Peacock Theater on Sunday night (June 30), Childish Gambino opened the 17-minute long set with an acoustic rendition of “U Don’t Have To Call” before being joined by Keke Palmer. The former child star was once again able to live out her childhood dreams after first doing so when she and Usher collaborated for his “Boyfriend” music video.

Palmer then took over the stage with a vibrant version of “You Make Me Wanna.” Summer Walker came out to perform her verse from “Good Good.” Coco Jones stole the show the same way Usher did during his BET Awards debut performance—by walking through the audience and serenading a select few.

When she approached Usher in the front row, the “ICU” star first sang to his wife, Jennifer Goicoechea-Raymond, before pulling the crooner out of his seat for an intimate moment. Marsha Ambrosius followed behind Jones’ homage with her own performance of “Superstar.”

Chlöe shifted gears with her rendition of “Good Kisser” before Tinashe matched her own freak by performing “Nice & Slow.” Before Latto closed out the tribute by rapping Ludacris’ verse on “Yeah!,” Teyana Taylor and Victoria Monét saved the tribute set and paid homage to Usher by recreating his 2004 “Bad Girl” performance with Beyoncé.

Leave it to two Black, queer women to give the best performance of the night. It feels appropriate considering the award show fell on the last day of Pride Month.

Viewer reactions across social media mostly stemmed from disappointment. Some felt the vocal performances were mid while others felt that Usher’s tribute needed more of a male presence. Heated debates were conjured up across X/Twitter as fans and harsh critics defended their stance as it relates to male R&B singers of today.

Vocal powerhouses Avery Wilson and Durand Bernarr reacted to the vitriol on Twitter. Wilson tweeted, “I was available,” as his name, among others, flooded the timeline as apt tribute replacements. Bernarr replied, “We all were and yet…hmmm.”

To add salt to the wound, BET used Bernarr in the promotional skit for Usher’s tribute, and he was seemingly not selected to perform.

VIBE also provided a well-curated list of worthy contenders, most of whom were in the audience as this tribute took place—which included Bernarr, DIXSON, Eric Bellinger, and V.EDO.

Normani was reportedly set to participate in the tribute but allegedly pulled out due to an injury she procured during rehearsals.

All in all, you can rewatch the full Usher tribute below and rate it like Keith Lee, or however you see fit.

Source: BET, VIBE