By Clara Eikeboom and Andrew Bittner
Garnering 103.4 million concurrent viewers compared to last year’s 96.7 million, the unique performances at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show garnered a positive reception among most viewers. The show ran for around 15 minutes and featured Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem performing in and around a bright white set representing houses and buildings. Lebron James described the show as the “greatest halftime show” and many share his sentiment. While the show was undeniably one of the better halftime shows in recent years based on the talent of the performers alone; unfortunately, its production quality fell short.
A review of the halftime show would not be complete without mentioning the sheer talent of the performers and the quality of the songs. However, despite the individual skill of each performer, there was almost a feeling that each performer did not get a chance to truly share the extent of their talents in their limited time. That is not to say that having multiple performers cannot work. For example, in 2020 Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performed together and their show worked well, as they each had multiple solo songs and ended with a strong duet where each voice could be distinctly heard. However, in our opinion, having fewer performers would have been just as effective, if not more so, than the six that were featured. With that being said, it was certainly spectacular to be able to hear many amazing songs in a row with so many talented performers.
The choreography of the halftime show was not exciting or interesting to watch, and left much to be desired. A notable exception was Mary J. Blige, who danced as she sang, interacted with the camera, and used her backup dancer. These elements enhanced her song and did not distract viewers. As for other performers, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar’s performances stood out as being visually engaging despite their unchoreographed dancing due 50 Cent starting upside down, Kendrick Lamar and his backup dancers beginning in boxes, and the performances of the backup dancers during the song. 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar serve as examples that elaborate choreography for the singers is not necessary to have a visually engaging performance, but the other performances seemed to lack the same creativity and effort that went into the performances of Mary Blige, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar.
The outfits of most of the performers were also lackluster, with the exception of Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige. Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige did have interesting outfits. Snoop Dogg wore a royal blue and yellow bandana tracksuit, accessorized with gold sunglasses, gold jewelry, and white sneakers. Mary J. Blige wore a blingy one-piece with thigh high shiny boots and big hoops. This outfit caught the viewers eyes as it was so shiny and bold. However, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem wore black pants and tops. While having relatively unengaging attire is not a huge criticism and had little effect on the quality of the performance, the plain outfits came off as a missed opportunity for the performance to be greater than it was.
Lastly, the trailer as the primarily set piece, although a unique and interesting design choice for home viewers, may have been upsetting for those watching in person. The trailer, based on Compton according to Dr. Dre, had a closed structure which limited the visibility of the audience: The houses had walls on most sides, so when performers were inside or slightly in front of the set piece, over half of the live fans were unable to see them. The set was an interesting concept, but the execution was not adequate. Moreover, perhaps the trailers could have had color and been more open for movement. More engaging set pieces have proven to be successful in the past, like Katy Perry’s 2015 halftime show. She sang on a platform that floated above viewers and climbed a 16 foot aluminum lion that moved. Hopefully, future performances will build on the creativity of this year’s performance to create an even more engaging performance.
Although we think the execution of this halftime show was slightly disappointing, the caliber of the performers made the show incredibly engaging and entertaining, and the creative aspects of this show will hopefully improve the quality of future performances. In the past, halftime shows have not included many Black rap artists. For reference, this halftime show was just the second time featuring Black rap artists, the first time being the Black Eyed Peas in 2011. In light of the recent controversy surrounding racism in the NFL, the inclusion of multiple Black performers in the show was at least an effort towards a better representation of the Black community in football. Thus, while we certainly enjoyed the 2022 halftime show and all of its creativity and progress, we can hope that future shows will build upon the positive foundation of both creativity and racial diversity laid by this year’s show.