Jennifer Lopez arrived on the Super Bowl halftime stage at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium atop a model of the Empire State Building, danced on a stage shaped like the female Venus symbol and donned, at one point, a remarkable Puerto Rican red white and blue cape-gown that appeared to be constructed of massive feather boas.
Jenny From The Block, as she announced herself, let the world know in no uncertain terms that she and co-headliner Shakira belonged exactly where they were, at the heart of this most American event.
Watch the performance below.
In a high-energy mix of music, dance and sequins, Lopez and Shakira (and several teams worth of back-up dancers) delivered a spectacle-style show not without its statements. A silent but glitzy nod to Kobe Bryant – a cross of yellow and purple lights flashed on the field toward the end of the performance – typified the approach: Let the dazzle do the talking.
On a night when President Donald Trump appeared in a reality-mocking political ad touting his apparent solving of the border crisis and depicting him as a hero of separated families, the performance of Lopez and Shakira was, to put in mildly, freighted. “Two Latinas doing this at this time in this country, it’s just very empowering for us,” Lopez had said at a news conference days ago. “I’m very proud to be able to help set and push for that message.”
And that message was there, and you didn’t always need to squint to see past the sparkle. At one point, Latino children sat in what at first glance seemed to be neon flower blossoms; after a second or two, our eyes recognized the lights for the cages the were.
A celebration of Latino culture, the show began with Shakira, in red sparkly minidress fronting a phalanx of identically clad dancers, running through a fast medley of her hits “She Wolf,” “Empire” and “Whenever, Wherever.” In a duet on J Balvin’s “I Like It,” she took the part originated by Cardi B.
At one point, Shakira crowd surfed. At another, a snippet of Led Zeppelin’s famous and mighty “Kashmir” riff filled the stadium as the stage full of dancers played electric guitars.
Lopez arrived on stage astride a model Empire State Building, a nod to her hometown and perhaps even her own top-of-the-world moment. She ran though “Jenny From the Block,” “Get Right” and the crowd-pleasing “Waiting for Tonight,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Mi Gente.”
Lopez even paid tribute to herself with an attention-grabbing pole-dancing routine, a clear reference to her current, Oscar-snubbed film Hustlers. A week before what could be a typically humdrum Academy Awards, Lopez couldn’t have been any clearer if she’d held up a sign saying, “See what you’re missing?”
The former American Idol judge appeared in that soon-to-be-iconic flag cape as her 11-year-old daughter Emme led a girls’ choir in a rendition of the Lopez hit “Let’s Get Loud,” yet another moment when spectacle paid service to a message of empowerment.
When Shakira, in glittery gold, reappeared on stage to join Lopez, in shiny silver, for a final, sexy moment of salsa-inspired hip-shaking, the lightning-speed 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show came to end, the two Latina superstars showing the world what solidarity and unification really looks like.