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The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

Recapping past Superbowl halftime performances

Photo by Courtesy of @badgalriri on instagram
Rihanna’s announced her performances for the Super Bowl halftime in 2023.

Whether you’re a football fan, a commercials fan, or just there for the food, the Super Bowl Halftime Show is one of the most watched events of the year. A chosen musical star performs the biggest hits of their career for no payment but only the insane press, increase of streams, and overall spotlight they will receive. As Usher took the stage for this year’s 2024 Super Bowl, many fans, us included, took the time to reflect on Super Bowl performances in the past and determine whether or not they were a hit, a miss, or just downright forgettable. Trying to compile the largest achievements of one’s discography into the small thirteen-minute window that the stars are allowed has proven to be a feat—all while continuing to appeal to all audiences:old and young. While some stars proved to understand the demands of this gig, others fell short and to the bottom of the rankings. In the last five years, the performances have included Usher (2024) with guests H.E.R, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Jeramine Dupri,, and Alicia Keys, Rihanna (2023), Dr Dre (2022) with guests Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Snoop Dog, and Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd (2021), Shakira (2020) with guest JLo. As large as each of these performers are, some found more success than others. 

The popular early 2000s star was an unexpected pick for 2024’s Super Bowl. Many other stars—such as Beyonce or Taylor Swift—would have been a more expected choice after the years they had. Nonetheless, Usher was a solid pick of a performer who could sing, dance, and had the reputation of being a stellar performer. His performance was packed with everything imaginable from guest appearances of H.E.R, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Jeramine Dupri,, and Alicia Keys to a full marching band and a section on rollerblades. However, many fans were confused about how packed it truly was, and at times seemed all over the place. Along with that, he failed to play many fan favorites (such as DJ Got Us Falling in Love) despite that he was given fifteen minutes instead of the usual thirteen. Usher also managed to slip on his rollerblades, Alicia Keys had a wonky note that turned into a mockery online in seconds and people were quick to note how excessively touchy Usher was with her. In the end there were positive notes, the performance overall was a little too packed and at times was just confusing. 

In a survey sent out to students at LFA asking them to rate and rank Super Bowl Halftime performances, 38.1% of people thought of Usher’s performance as good whereas another 33.3% claimed to have thought it was bad. 14.3% thought it was awful and 9.5% of students polled said they loved the performances. This is leaving many mixed reviews about Usher’s Halftime performance.

When Rihanna was announced as 2023’s performer, people were shocked. As the star had not released any music besides a single for the Black Panther movie back in 2016, it was surprising that she accepted this gig. Regardless, the performance was still great. Though many stars bring in special guests during their performances, Rihanna did it all by herself, compiling her performance with huge hits, floating stages and probably over a hundred dancers in white puffers. Although the performance seemed somewhat stationary for Rihanna who is a known dancer, the pregnancy reveal at the end cleared that up and overall contributed to the performance. As the most watched Super Bowl performance of all time, Rihanna’s performance did exactly what is expected of it: huge hits, extravagant but neat, and overall fun and entertaining.  

Post-COVID restrictions, people were eager to see what star or stars would take the stage. Despite the fact that Dr Dre, Snoop Dog, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar were an unexpected pairing, it turned out to be a perfect fit. As hip-hops first time on the Super Bowl stage, the performance did not fall short of perfection and served as almost a tour through hip-hops past and present. Each star had an opportunity to perform their own hits all while making it a cohesive and entertaining performance. This performance is also the only one to receive an award as it won an Emmy for outstanding variety special. 

The Weeknd performed at the Super Bowl in a half-empty stadium during the heat of COVID-19. The Weeknd went solo on his performance bringing in no special guests to perform with him. His performance of blinding light was very memorable despite his lack of performers; his dancer that he did have appeared to have a dystopian face mask on. 

In 2020 both Shakira and Jennifer Lopez took on the Super Bowl Halftime performance. These two did almost everything right when it came to putting on an outstanding performance catered to Halftime. They had fun and exciting costumes on, along with an amazing set list. With these two performers, you are also guaranteed an exceptional performance. In the survey sent out a student said, “Shakira and JLo were amazing.” This was a shared sentiment with the internet.

The Super Bowl is a great way to unite Americans and bring them together whether it is for their love of music or love of sports. Many people even end up only watching the Super Bowl for the Halftime and a variety of interesting commercials. Rather than watching the actual football game. This makes the Super Bowl an event for everyone to enjoy.

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Mimi Sexton, Managing Editor of Features and Social Media
Liv Kelly, Managing Editor of Op-Ed

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