Hot Topic: The Star-Studded Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show

Gray Purcell, Contributing Writer

Over the course of my life there have been few things I enjoy more than watching a good football game. I cannot count the number of weekends I have spent crowded around a living room television, screaming through pixels at incompetent referees. As a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan, this season was particularly painful. Regardless of who is playing, however, I always eagerly await the arrival of Super Bowl weekend. There is no better feeling than watching players triumphantly raise the Vince Lombardi trophy as confetti rains down above thousands of people. That being said, I would be lying if I pretended to ignore the obvious reason why most of the population tunes in to watch the big game: The Pepsi Halftime Show.

Super Bowl performances have given us some of the most iconic moments in pop culture: a Destiny’s Child reunion, rainfall during Prince’s finale performance of “Purple Rain,” Lady Gaga’s spider-esque rooftop entrance, and of course Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s infamous wardrobe malfunction. Regardless of the performer, the halftime show continues to be one of the most viewed television broadcasts each year. In 2015, Katy Perry and her shark backup dancers set the all time record when they drew in nearly 120 million viewers worldwide. 

Rather than selecting one artist as a headliner, this year’s halftime show will be split evenly between five giants of the music industry. The acts were introduced to the public through an incredible trailer posted across the National Football League’s social media platforms.

The video focuses around the theme of answering “The Call,” opening with an elaborate chess board that gives way to a city skyline. The first performer to appear is Eminem, who is stuck in a fierce lyric battle with his younger alter ego Slim Shady. Known for his wild antics and bold lyricism, Marshall Mathers is often hailed as one of the world’s most iconic rappers. He dominated the charts in the early 2000s, headlining a number of important events such as the MTV Music Video Awards. While still active within the community, occasionally releasing new albums and cyphers, Eminem has generally sunk away from the limelight. So, seeing him perform at this scale once again will be incredible.

The next clip features Snoop Dogg driving down a highway in an old school car. Snoop Dogg is seemingly a jack of all trades, often praised for his humor and carefree attitude. Oddly enough, he has been in the spotlight recently for his unlikely public friendship with famed chef Martha Stewart. However, he is most importantly another influential rap artist that helped redefine the genre in its earlier years. Due to his likable personality and talent, it is unsurprising that he has been chosen as a member of this all-star group.

The focus then shifts to a bustling runway set where we find the queen of hip-hop soul herself, Mary J. Blige. As a seasoned performer with numerous tours and performances under her belt, she is the perfect female addition to this crew. She seamlessly blends smooth R&B vocals with traditional rap styles. Blige is a powerhouse, commanding the stage with enough energy to easily entertain thousands. 

The next artist to grace the screen is my personal favorite rapper of all time, Kendrick Lamar. A lyrical genius hailing from Compton, Lamar is depicted furiously scrawling words across a page. He is a powerful artist who has never shied away from bold or controversial issues in his writing, often producing music that immediately receives critical acclaim. Though the most recent artist to the game in comparison to the other four, Kendrick Lamar has become one of the most easily recognizable names in hip-hop.

The trailer comes to a close with the reveal of the fifth and final performer, Dr. Dre. Arguably the most influential person out of this entire lineup, Dr. Dre has revolutionized the music industry in ways not many others can reflect through his own music, entrepreneurship and production. As a long time friend, mentor and artistic partner of all four other performers, he will likely serve as the chess master for this entire halftime show production. 

Although my favorite team won’t be heading to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles this year, I am looking forward to tuning into NBC on Feb. 13. As a lover of hip-hop and R&B, this halftime show lineup feels like an absolute dream come true. The five artists alone share a total of 43 Grammys between them as well as countless other awards and accolades. These individuals are revolutionaries in many ways, impacting music and culture within their genres and far beyond. Watching some of the most influential artists of all time come together on one stage will likely go down in history as one of the most powerful Super Bowl performances of all time.