The Highlight of the Super Bowl

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s performance may carry more meaning than you initially thought- but how does it compare to other halftime shows?

Abby Carlisle, Editor

This years’ performers, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, seemed, to me at least, to be a random choice. Although neither of them may have had Billboard hits in America in recent years, they sure haven’t lost their ability to put on a good show. 

The reviews online range from Karen’s complaining that Spanish has no place to be sung during the Super Bowl, especially when half naked, to women feeling empowered by the confidence that radiated from these women; just a reminder, Jennifer Lopez is 50 years old and Shakira is 43 years old. 

Shakira paid tribute throughout the show to her Lebanese and Columbian heritage. What was seen as a meme initially, Skakira sticking her tongue out repetitively, turned out to have a purpose. In the Middle East and Columbia, it is an expression of pure joy according to the Washington Post. This expression is typically used by women at their wedding- but quite honestly, this performance was no less a celebration of love. The songs she sang encompassed both Latin American, Middle Eastern, and American culture as we know it. 

Lopez made a statement by wearing a flag with the United States flag on her back and the Puerto Rican flag visible to cameras. This tribute to her heritage was beautiful in my opinion and beyond appropriate due to the Super Bowl’s location of Miami, where many Latin Americans inhabit. I was surprised that many Americans didn’t recognize the flag though, many even mistook it for the Texas state flag; that’s kind of embarrassing since Puerto Rico is an American territory, or do the same people who didn’t know the flag also not know that? Lopez also brought her 11-year-old daughter on the stage to perform alongside her as an homage to her name.

Like I said before, these women impressed many Americans, but yet more seemed to deem the performance inappropriate. Understandable to a degree, pole dancing on regular family time television would be deemed unsuitable at any other time. But when you acknowledge that Lopez just produced a whole movie on the lifestyle of pole dancers, it’s justifiably an ad for “Hustlers 2” and a demonstration of her talents.  

The same thing can be said for Shakira. She wasn’t aiming to insult Americans by speaking spanish, she was aiming to include the rest of the world– who better to do so than a woman who speaks five languages? Before the performance she and Lopez promised to deliver an “empowering” performance, and they certainly delivered by empowering themselves, their cultures and hoping to empower the people watching.

That being said, I believe that this performance is one of the best of the past decade. No other performance reflected the same deep meaning; furthermore, no other performance came at such a time when unity within our country and among others was of utmost importance.

But, I don’t want to diminish other halftime performances from the past ten years as I praise this one.

A personal favorite of mine was Justin Timberlake in 2018. Not only was his setlist phenomenal- consisting of Billboard hits such as “SexyBack,” “Cry Me a River,” “Mirrors” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling-” but his show featured a video of Prince performing whom had recently passed. The city of Minneapolis, his home town, hosting this Super Bowl then lit up the city skyline with Purple lights as an homage to his song “Purple Rain.”

Another favorite of mine is Bruno Mars in 2014. The energy on the stage that night was easily felt through the television screen. Mars’ outfit resembled the ones his role models Micheal Jackson and Prince wore during their Super Bowl performances back in 1993 and 2007. The setlist, featuring “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure” and “Just the Way You Are,” stirred emotion into all viewers, myself included.

In 2017, Lady Gaga took the stage putting on arguably the best performance of her life. With the use of cable machines giving her the appearance of flying, intricate outfit changes, an explosion of color AND no featured artists, it’s hard to not acknowledge the intricacy and beauty of this performance. Katy Perry had a similar run in 2015, thus an honorable mention, but she was overshadowed by the cute sharks on stage.

What all of these performances have in common is that all performers stayed true to themselves and their music. It takes more than flashing lights and crowd surfing to truly resonate with the American public, and I believe Shakira and Lopez’s testaments to their heritage did just that.