Why this year’s Super Bowl halftime show will make history

Courtesy NFL/PepsiThis year’s Super Bowl halftime show will make history. 

The trend of having current big-name music stars perform during halftime only dates back to 1991, when New Kids on the Block performed. Before that, halftime was marching bands, older stars like Chubby Checker, or the G-rated vocal troupe Up with People.

Since then, only one Latin artist has ever headlined: Gloria Estefan, who did it twice, in 1992 and 1999.  But Jennifer Lopez and Shakira‘s extravaganza this Sunday night in Miami will mark the first time two Latin artists together have had top billing on the show.  In addition, a Latin woman, Demi Lovato, will sing the national anthem.  Special guests are also expected to pop up.

As Billboard notes, this is also the first year the halftime show is being produced by JAY-Z’s company, Roc Nation, along with NBC and Pepsi.  The rap mogul partnered with the NFL last summer in a multiyear deal to consult on entertainment.  According to Billboard, that’s one reason Jennifer and Shakira were chosen: They wanted to make sure that, going forward, the Super Bowl will “spotlight the culture of the city that hosts it.” 

You may recall that last year, one of the complaints about the selection of Maroon 5 as the halftime headliner was that they had no connection to Atlanta, a city with a rich history of hip-hop.  While hip-hop stars joined Adam Levine and company onstage, they didn’t receive top billing.

But of course, the halftime show has been plagued by controversy of one form or another since 2004’s “Nipplegate” fiasco with Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.  In the years after that, the NFL turned to “safer” classic rock artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as halftime performers. Pop stars returned to the halftime show in 2011 with the Black Eyed Peas‘ performance.

Everything since has mostly been been O.K., with a few exceptions.  During Madonna‘s 2012 performance, one of her guests, rapper M.I.A., flipped off the crowd. And in 2016, Beyoncé was criticized for featuring back-up dancers dressed in outfits reminiscent of the Black Panther political party of the 1960s. 

Last year’s show was possibly the most controversial since 2004, though.  Many fans felt that, due to the NFL’s alleged treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other players who’ve knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi should have declined to perform.

The show itself received mostly poor reviews — and the fact that Adam Levine was shirtless for most of it didn’t help.

Here’s a reminder of who’s played Super Bowl halftime shows in last 29 years:

1991 — New Kids on the Block
1992 — Gloria Estefan
1993 — Michael Jackson, performing with 3,500 children
1994 — Country stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna, and Naomi Judd
1995 — Patti LaBelle, Miami Sound Machine & Tony Bennett
1996 — Diana Ross
1997 — ZZ Top, James Brown, the Blues Brothers featuring Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi
1998 — Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, Queen Latifah
1999 — Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
2000 — Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton
2001 — Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige
2002 — U2
2003 — Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting
2004 — Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, Kid Rock, P. Diddy
2005 — Paul McCartney
2006 — The Rolling Stones
2007 — Prince
2008 — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
2009 — Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
2010 — The Who
2011 — Black Eyed Peas
2012 — Madonna
2013 — Beyonce (and Destiny’s Child, briefly)
2014 — Bruno Mars feat. Red Hot Chili Peppers
2015 — Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz & Missy Elliott
2016 — Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars
2017 — Lady Gaga
2018 — Justin Timberlake
2019 — Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi
2020 — Jennifer Lopez & Shakira

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