- The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year, featuring some of the biggest music artists in the world.
- Preparing for a Super Bowl halftime performance is grueling and requires months of practice, choreography, and coordination, with many challenges and unexpected events along the way.
- Despite the difficulties, the Super Bowl halftime show provides a unique platform for artists to showcase their talent, make a statement, and connect with millions of viewers worldwide. From Katy Perry’s record-breaking performance to Lady Gaga’s Emmy nominations to JLo and Shakira’s political response, the Super Bowl halftime show has left an indelible mark on popular culture.
February is considered one of the world’s favorite months of the year because it celebrates Valentine’s Day, but for sports fans, it becomes the most awaited season. American soccer fans await this day with fervor, as the National Football League (NFL) concludes its season with a game that, in addition to the emotions that overflow on the field, is famous by its halftime show, where only the most important artists of the moment perform.
The great show that attracted the gaze of millions of spectators who were not fans of this event began with a tradition by New Kids on the Block, an American boyband that made the stands rumble in the 1991 final. Until then, the closing event had featured live music by college bands, so the pop band’s stellar participation was a milestone in sporting events of that nature.
Since then, great musicians such as Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Aerosmith, NSYNC, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and many more have performed.
They generate more and more impact on viewers with their risky bets. The artists’ participation entails an arduous preparation from planning to their last second on the field. Although they planned every detail with the help of their team, sometimes things didn’t turn out as expected.
From distracted shark to Guinness World Record breaker: this was Katy Perry’s halftime performance.
It was in 2015 when the Californian singer-songwriter was impressed by appearing on the court of the University of Phoenix stadium riding a huge lion. Among dancers, a colorful scenery that changed according to the context of her songs and more animal costumes, Katy got 118.5 million viewers to follow her show -according to Forbes- thus breaking a Guinness audience record that still stands today.
Although in front of the cameras everything seemed to be a success, in reality it was different during the preparations. According to what the performer told during an interview she gave to Elle magazine -where she was also on the cover in March 2015-when she was asked to perform at Super Bowl XLIX. She was very excited because it meant a great opportunity to continue expanding her music. Still, she did not imagine that she would invest approximately six months in the preparations.
“We have to practice for a full month. First we are in a dance studio because we don’t always practice in a stadium (…) I was never a dancer, but somehow or other I became one,” she said in her Super Bowl documentary.
What caught the eye was that Katy Perry wore three different outfits during her performance, all designed by Jeremy Scott, considered a specialist in American fashion. According to the creator of the iconic pieces in an interview with Style.com, the dress that simulated flames of fire came from some shoes he had previously made and they were perfect with Roar.
Scott revealed that the singer had 10 seconds between songs to change, so he worked on making the pieces wearable on top of each other: “It was like a mamushka. We needed something that could hide something underneath. She took off the first look and revealed a beach ball gown for California Girls, and it was part of the scene with giant balls and sharks.”
Likewise, the team also had to consider the time it took to set up the sets. But that was not all, after the show, some social network users pointed out that a dancer dressed as a shark would have messed up the Teenage Dream choreography, however, it was all about the confusion left for posterity.
“There are set choreographies. There are also freestyle ones. You move around and play your character as a dancer. I was in a blue shark suit. There’s nothing cool about that, so I played another character,” she told National Public Radio in an interview.
Lady Gaga almost collapsed because of unexpected changes.
Another artist who left an indelible mark on Super Bowl history was Lady Gaga. With her signature vocal style, she flooded Houston’s NRG Stadium in 2017 as soon as she appeared at the venue’s top alongside 300 drones that formed the American flag. With the help of a harness, she arrived on stage to start her musical show integrated by Poker Face, Born This Way, Just Dance, and Telephone.
Although she made her show one of the most watched, she could not beat Katy Perry, taking second place with 117.5 million viewers. The masterful choreographies were the jewel in the crown. However, they were an issue that put the show at risk because, just hours before going on stage, the singer learned of some changes that were not consulted beforehand, as she revealed during her documentary Gaga Five Foot Two.
She also had problems with her wardrobe: “It’s very distracting when things aren’t right for me. I can’t do it if everything isn’t in place. Otherwise, I’m just erasing mistakes (…). I’m rehearsing the whole show feeling like shit because everything is falling apart around me.”
Despite the stress behind the Super Bowl halftime show, the New York singer-songwriter and her team managed to pull it all off. In fact, their efforts were recognized with six Emmy Award nominations: “Special Class Program,” “Production Design,” “Lighting Design,” “Sound Mixing,” “Technical Direction” and “Music Direction.”
Among her accomplishments, Lady Gaga confessed that she regretted ending her show with a soccer pass, as she nearly put everything at risk by including it:
“Playing at the Super Bowl was such an honor, so I don’t know why I made the dumb decision to try to catch a touchdown (…). I wanted to jump in and jump off the stage because I thought it was an interesting composition. I was so excited to catch the ball, but we practiced it four or five times, and I couldn’t,” he said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel.
We got a professional quarterback to throw me the ball. My sister designed a ball with diamonds that made it even heavier. It was funny because no one saw it but I landed in that cushioned, cushioned place and I was like, ‘Did I catch it, I did, I did, the camera caught it and everyone saw it.’Lady Gaga
Shakira vs. Jenifer Lopez: a show that was interpreted as an “insult” and mutated into a political response
It is very common for artists who participate in an NFL show to count on their own guests to collaborate where they endure as the center of the show. For that reason, when Jennifer Lopez was notified that she would be sharing the stage with Shakira, she considered it disrespectful, not because she was working with her colleague, but because they somehow failed to consider the great individual trajectory of each.
“It was an insult to think that they needed two Latinas to do the job that historically an artist has done,” JLo stated in her documentary Halftime.
For that reason, the Latina artists had to agree to perform together before she could begin planning her show. According to the documentary released by the singer of On the floor, when they agreed to work together, each one put her ideas on the table and concluded to divide the time so that each one could give her best, considering their collaborations.
So it was that despite continuous clashes with the organization and final considerations about some cages that were part of the scenery, Shakira and Jennifer jumped on stage in February 2020, driving crazy the Latino community that constantly faces all kinds of rejections in the United States.
“I’m not interested in politics, I’m not that kind of person, but I’m living in an America that I don’t recognize,” JLo explained about the background of her musical numbers. At the time, the Latino community suffered from President Donald Trump’s decisions.
In the end, each artist who has performed at the American soccer final has dealt with their process in their own way, some have chosen to show that they are world-class artists, while others have taken the opportunity to make the voices of vulnerable communities heard.