For decades, the Super Bowl has reigned as one of the most-watched television events in existence.
It’s an excuse to sit around a TV with a cold beverage in hand, stuff your face with finger foods and yell at each of the referee’s terrible calls. Then comes the halftime show, a glorious 30-minute music showcase that most often comes with a side of pyrotechnics and the best university marching band of the year.
But looking at average viewership for the last few years, it’s clear the once-coveted break in the big game is in peril.
Last year’s show in Atlanta was the distress signal. Eventually halftime was helmed by Maroon 5 and featuring rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. That came after the gig was turned down by Rihanna, Jay-Z and Cardi B, in large part because of the ongoing conflict between the NFL and free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Even the inclusion of Georgia-born rapper Big Boi wasn’t enough to entice viewers.
According to Nielsen rankings, the number of people who tuned in for the 2019 pop-rap spectacle fell just short of 101 million. Numbers hadn’t been that dismal since 2009 when Bruce Springsteen performed. Fewer and fewer people have opted to keep the tube tuned to the halftime show since 2015 when Katy Perry, along with Lenny Kravitz and Portsmouth native Missy Elliott, garnered 118.5 million viewers, 4 million more than the game itself.
Previously, performers could easily pull in upward of 115 million viewers, who are often glued to their screens waiting to be dazzled by bizarre artist mashups or mishaps like 2004’s half-a-second wardrobe malfunction involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.
This year, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira face the challenge of creating the most electrifying 12 minutes of television magic.
Can they turn the show’s decline around? When the two Latin powerhouses take the stage together in Miami for Super Bowl LIV, anything is possible.
2019 was a tremendous success for the multifaceted J.Lo. She stands to bring a lot of the energy and fan intrigue with her to halftime.
While millennials and boomers were busy bickering with each other about the generation’s biggest differences in social politics and whatever else sparked an argument, the Gen Xer was hard at work. Lopez turned 50 over the summer. Yes, you read that right – 50. But don’t get it twisted. Jenny from the block remains a fashion icon and proved such when she closed out Versace’s spring 2020 runway show in Milan last September.
Lopez still rocks a body ready to out dance anyone, made evident by her latest role as Ramona in “Hustlers,” a film about a ruthless crew of strippers looking to take back control over their economic prosperity. Her performance was not only lauded as career-defining by critics, but she also produced the film. The flick raked in $100 million-plus in its first month in theaters.
She might have been snubbed by the Oscars for her role in the film, but both “Hustlers” and Lopez garnered many nods. Lopez received nominations from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes for her role. She won best supporting actress from the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and nabbed a nomination from the Critic’s Choice Awards.
Shakira’s been busy, too.
In the last few years, Shakira both recorded a song, “Try Everything,” and voiced a role in Disney’s “Zootopia.” The Colombian singer-songwriter and dancer released her 11th studio album, “El Dorado,” which received nine award nominations, winning four from the Grammys, Latin Grammys, iHeartRadio Music Awards and the Latin Billboard Music Awards.
She holds the honor of being the only female Latin artist to win three Grammys for Best Latin Pop Album.
Not bad at all.
Compared to other halftime performance ratings, crowds are driven to watch by a few things: performers with a pop icon kind of status and a lineup that simply makes sense. The pairing of Lopez and Shakira certainly fits the bill.
Both women have shared details on social media about their insane workout regimens and last-minute preparations in recent weeks. Lopez even posted a photo of her diamond-studded Super Bowl microphone and “bling cup.”
Will it work? Who knows, but if there is one thing to be sure of, it’s this: never underestimate a hustler.
Amy Poulter, 757-446-2705, firstname.lastname@example.org