On Sunday, the NFL at least partially redeemed itself for last year’s stale, flatlining Super Bowl halftime show by recruiting Shakira and Jennifer Lopez to the party in Miami. The result? A punchy, political, and flat-out electric 14-minute performance that doubled as a salute to Latin culture and celebration of both stars’ careers.
Some highlights: Lopez singing while swinging on a pole on top of a fake Empire State Building spire; Shakira thrashing a guitar, banging on the drums, and belly dancing; Lopez donning a dominatrix outfit and bringing out J Balvin; Shakira swinging her hips then bringing out Bad Bunny (in what appeared to be Tin Man cosplay). It was a headlining performance that befit the city it took place in and the unvarnished enthusiasm that typically precedes these gigs each year.
“Hola Miami!” shouted Shakira, who kicked it all off with her 2009 four-on-the-floor club anthem “She Wolf.” It was a pulsating, sing-and-strut showcase for the 43-year-old Colombian performer, who was flanked by more than two dozen dancers in matching red jeweled leotards. She then opted for a rapid-fire approach: hopping on lead guitar for the hook on 2013’s “Empire” — complete with a backing string section and Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” tease — dancing across the stage into a remixed version of her No. 1 hit “Whenever, Wherever,” inviting Latin trap star Bad Bunny to perform his featured verse on Cardi B’s “I Like It,” then throwing in the horn-heavy 2016 reggaeton single “Chantaje” for good measure. She closed it all out with her global smash “Hips Don’t Lie” (sans Wyclef Jean), and earworm “Waka Waka.” Cue Shakira crowd surfing, pyrotechnics, and that tongue wag to the camera (it’s actually called zaghrouta, a form of ululation used to express joy in Arabic culture; Shakira is part Lebanese).
Not to be outdone, Lopez immediately dropped in for a snippet of “Jenny on the Block,” as she danced and sang with the energy of someone who seemed to be taking that Oscars snub of Hustlers personally. The appearance represented another impressive notch for Lopez’s career, who was already a major Hollywood star when she first dropped her debut album, On The 6, in 1999. Most actors who try their hands at music fail. She did not, and went on to release seven more records.
Her pulsating seven-minute set, which included a brief tribute to Kobe Bryant, leaned heavy on the early hits. After “Block” she went into 2001’s rom-com rap track “Ain’t It Funny” — without Ja Rule, who is presumably studying up on tax law — 2005’s old-school hip-hop-inflected “Get Right,” and 1999 club banger “Waiting For Tonight.” Later, Lopez brought in Colombian reggaeton star J Balvin to guest on “Booty,” before he jumped into his own global hit “Mi Gente” — though it mostly served as a dance showcase for J. Lo herself.
But, like the rest of the set, the moment quickly shuffled to the next set piece, as Shakira returned to center stage. There was only one way this halftime performance was going to end: a dance-off. Lopez and Shakira first faced each other with their respective teams before joining forces and dancing together to showcase elements of ballroom, hip-hop, and salsa. Fans in glowing wristbands jumped up and down, Shakira shouted “Muchas gracias,” fireworks went off in the background. It was a perfectly triumphant moment for two artists who had just nailed a performance in front of 100 million people. Just nobody show it to Adam Levine.