Jennifer Lopez and Shakira brought an energetic jolt of Latina star power to Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, delivering hip-shaking choreography and a medley of infectious hits to one of the world’s glitziest stages.
Latin artists Bad Bunny and J Balvin appeared as surprise guests in the extravaganza, which signaled its Latin American influences from the onset, when Shakira greeted the stadium audience in Spanish with “Hola, Miami.”
Dressed in a sequined, ruby-red outfit with matching boots, Shakira led her team of dancers through snippets of hits such as “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie” before giving way to J-Lo.
Lopez made her entrance in black leather and studs on a stage set resembling the top of the Empire State Building, as “Jenny from the Block” proudly announced she was from the Bronx, New York.
The 12-minute halftime show, along with commercials, has become a popular feature of the Super Bowl spectacle on par with the game itself, which draws some 100 million television viewers in the United States.
In Miami, a majority Latino city, where the Kansas City Chiefs played the San Francisco 49ers for the championship of the National Football League, the show’s organizers had discreetly built up expectations for a display of girl power with a Latina twist.
The backgrounds of the two headliners fit two of the demographics the National Football League is trying to attract to expand its fan base: women and Latinos.
J-Lo, 50, is the Bronx-born child of Puerto Rican parents who, as her own hit “Jenny from the Block” attests, rose from humble roots to become an international star of Hollywood movies and popular music with her own fashion and fragrance lines.
As her set progressed, J-Lo changed in a wink into a lacy body suit, unfurling a rectangular boa with the U.S. flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other. It was a subtle reminder that Puerto Ricans – hit by a Category 5 hurricane in 2017 and more recently set back by a series of earthquakes – are Americans, too.
She then strutted to “On the Floor,” a 2011 hit, and “Let’s Get Loud,” a track from her debut 1999 album, featuring a girls’ choir.
Shakira, 43, who is from Barranquilla, Colombia, in building up the show she let it be known she sympathized with Latinos in the United States, where anti-immigration rhetoric has become more open in recent years.
“Latinos are going through a difficult time in the U.S. right now, and I think it’s very important for us to convey a message of unity and also to show what a relevant force the Latin community is in this country,” Shakira told reporters on Thursday.
This year’s Super Bowl broke ground for women in high places, including in the ownership of both teams (Denise York of the 49ers and Norma Hunt of the Chiefs), and on the sidelines, where San Francisco’s offensive assistant Katie Sowers became the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl.
“That statement alone is empowering,” Lopez told reporters on Thursday, referring to the women owners and halftime headliners.
The Super Bowl halftime show started out 53 years ago with university marching bands, a high school drill team and two guys flying with jet packs. It has since evolved into a showcase for A-list talent, including Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
One of the more notable performances came in 2004 when Justin Timberlake tugged on Janet Jackson’s clothes, briefly exposing a breast adorned with a nipple shield. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission sought to fine broadcaster CBS $550,000 for indecency over the incident, which Timberlake famously dubbed a “wardrobe malfunction,” but the fine was overturned in the courts. (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler)