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How Vogue got Usher's debut cover wrong

Usher finally made his Vogue debut after 30 years in the music industry, but you probably wouldn't immediately clock him on his own cover.

Usher in Las Vegas in October 2023. [Image Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

On Wednesday, Vogue dropped its winter 2024 digital issue, featuring Usher as its cover star. It's a big moment in the eight-time Grammy winner's career, but the significance has been undermined by a cluttered cover photo that places Usher in the background.

Here's why the image has sparked backlash online.

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Usher's first-ever Vogue cover comes weeks before February 11, when he'll headline the Super Bowl halftime show in Las Vegas. The 'My Way' singer's name appears in bold white lettering in the lower center of the digital cover, along with the phrase "Super Bowl MVP."

At first glance, it's difficult to know where or who the eyes should focus on.

Usher isn't front-and-center in the image, which was taken on a football field. Instead, he's surrounded by seven boys from the Jr Gaels tackle football team. Usher is placed in the second row, off to the left side, holding up one of the young athletes on his right shoulder while he gives the camera a thumbs up.

Inexplicably, model Carolyn Murphy appears on the far right side, gazing adoringly at Usher. She's also featured in other images from the photo shoot and calls Usher "a gentleman, truly a rarity" in the cover story.

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Usher is certainly not an unknown musician. In addition to releasing eight studio albums and a string of hit songs like 'Yeah!' and 'My Boo', the R&B icon recently wrapped up a 100-show Vegas residency.

Usher is one of few male stars, and even fewer Black men, who have graced the cover of American Vogue. The 'Burn' singer being joined by a white model felt reminiscent of the time the publication paired basketball legend LeBron James with model Gisele Bndchen for its controversial April 2008 cover.

Given his status and accomplishments, people were baffled that Vogue decided on other people sharing Usher's spotlight for the magazine cover. They expressed disappointment and said that the cover missed the mark.

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Representatives for Vogue didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

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