Jennifer Lopez may not have gotten her Oscar nomination for Hustlers, but on Sunday, the “tabletop” pole move she memorably demonstrated in the film was one of the showstoppers at the Super Bowl halftime show. There was J.Lo, suspended horizontally high above the ground, legs wrapped around a pole center stage, only one hand grabbing on for support.
Add that to Shakira’s rousing Latin dance moves, appearances by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, Latin beats in spades, and an impressive performance by J.Lo’s 11-year old daughter Emme on “Let’s Get Loud” — ending with Emme singing alongside her American/Puerto Rican flag-draped mama — and you got a halftime show that majorly broke ranks from previous years.
Touted for months as the first all-Latin Super Bowl experience, this became a major fact when word of the guest performers — Bad Bunny and J Balvin — leaked this weekend. For the first time in history, every act on the stage was Latin — a momentous statement that underscores a unique moment in this nation’s history, one filled with divisiveness that this show sought to mend, but also, one full of diversity like never before.
Beyond the significance of the moment, this too was the first time two female performers shared the show, and questions have swirled on how exactly that would go down.
The answer is: as evenly as humanly possible, cramming a lot of music into sets where both performers created shows built on dance moves and dance troupes more than vocals, but where there were two clear distinct styles: Shakira’s more playful, tropical, colorful and Latin, and J.Lo’s more razzle-dazzle, over-the-top, Vegas-style show married to a very exacting dance routine.
Shakira kicked off the show, rising from a circular platform in the middle of the center-field stage, wearing a tiny red sequin dress and surrounded by a battalion of similarly red-clad dancers and an “Hola Miami!” before launching into “She Wolf.” She then grabbed an electric guitar for a very brief nod to her rock roots with “Empire” and a nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and continued with a mad medley of dance-powered hits, beginning with her breakout English-language single “Whenever, Wherever.”
The no-longer surprise element was the appearance of Bad Bunny, clad in a long, crystal-encrusted gray leather overcoat for a double play of “I Like It” and “Chantaje” (Shakira’s hit single with Maluma), with a salsa beat, dancing trombonists and Bad Bunny quoting “Callaita.”
The grand finale was Shakira’s signature “Hips Don’t Lie,” while body surfing into the crowd. The move was obviously perfectly planned, but executed with spontaneous abandon, capping a colorful, celebratory set punctuated by Shakira moving to the Colombian beat of champeta — she does this so well — and the parting words: “No fighting.”
Then, it was J.Lo’s turn.
Wearing a long, pink taffeta skirt over a cut-off leather bodysuit, she rose from a pedestal on the side of the stage to the tune of “Jenny From the Block,” oozing attitude and accompanied by dancers with canes. Then, to the tune of “Waiting for Tonight” and surrounded by her dancers, she shimmied up that pole and did her tabletop move with the dancers writhing underneath.
It was a feat of athleticism and a bit of chest-thumping (not to mention, when did she do the outfit change into a sparkly catsuit?). J.Lo, after all, is 50. She’s not supposed to be able to do things most 20-somethings can’t fathom.
It was just the beginning of a tightly choreographed, dazzling set.
Boasting dance moves that must have led to serious recovery — including running to land on her knees and slide to the front of the stage — J.Lo ran through a string of hits that also included “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and greeted J Balvin to her set. The Colombian star, wearing black track pants and a black hoodie from his own collection emblazoned with the words “Made in Medellín” and a sunny flower, took the stage to the tune of “Qué Calor.” The music then segued into the globally recognized opening to Balvin’s hit “Mi Gente,” which he performed as the stage lit up with smiley faces, his trademark, and J.Lo danced above. Balvin, and Bad Bunny’s appearance before him, sent a major message: This was the first all-Latin, top to bottom, halftime show in history. But it would still be a show that appealed to all.
J.Lo wasn’t done yet: Daughter Emme took the stage, surrounded by a children’s chorus, all dressed in white, who helped her sing “Let’s Get Loud” as mom retook the stage, this time dressed all in white (as in peace) and draped with a gigantic American flag.
Shakira, back onstage on the drum set and wearing a short golden outfit, got up to join J.Lo for the grand finale, a “Waka Waka” extravaganza punctuated by Latin percussion and dance moves.
These are the moments where Shakira shone brightest, fusing Latin, world and pop music and bringing everything into dance moves that incorporate the rhythms of Colombia. The final touch was the return of Lopez, in yet another outfit, for a final, Vegas-style salsa number that she finished alongside Shakira.
It was risqué and grand and, ultimately, it did get everybody dancing.