By MIKAEL WOODPOP MUSIC CRITIC FEB. 2, 2020 6:08 PM
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira fused old-school razzle-dazzle with an of-the-moment sense of Latin American pride as the historic halftime performers during Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
“Latinos!” Lopez cried near the end of the 14-minute show as her song “Let’s Get Loud” morphed into a rendition of “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen. That Lopez, who was born in the Bronx to parents who’d emigrated from Puerto Rico, was wearing a feathered cape in a stars-and-stripes design — American flag on one side, Puerto Rican on the other — only rendered unmistakable what the music was making plenty clear: Jammed with as many rhythms and chants and textures as she and Shakira could fit, this was the gloriously polyglot sound of America in 2020.
The production — as precise and, given President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, as pointed as any in recent memory — began with Shakira, dressed like her dozens of dancers in fringed red outfits, singing “She Wolf” and “Empire,” the latter of which she mashed up with a bit of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” as she led her band on a bedazzled electric guitar.
For “Whenever, Wherever,” the Colombian singer’s breakthrough hit from 2001, Shakira bellydanced before bringing out Bad Bunny, the Latin trap superstar, to do his verse from “I Like It” by Cardi B, another New Yorker with family roots in Latin America; then Bad Bunny — perhaps the most au courant performer to play the Super Bowl since Beyoncé in 2016 — laid some rhymes over Shakira’s “Chantaje,” which featured a section of horn players possibly more concerned with their dance moves than with their playing.
Indeed, Shakira herself appeared to be lip-syncing for much of her set — at least until she dove into the crowd for “Hips Don’t Lie,” in which you could hear her exhorting those holding her aloft. (Demi Lovato, who crushed the pre-game national anthem in a fierce display of vocal power, was probably shaking her head somewhere backstage.)
Yet after back-to-back years in which deeply underwhelming white guys headlined the halftime show — first Justin Timberlake in 2018, then Maroon 5 last year — the physicality of Shakira’s presence, especially in a city as suffused with Latin American heritage as Miami, provided a welcome electricity.
As the first product of Jay-Z’s controversial pact with the NFL, which has the rapper’s Roc Nation company helping to produce entertainment for the football league dogged by criticism for its handling of Colin Kaepernick’s protests over systemic racism, booking the halftime’s first two Latina headliners made all kinds of sense.
Taking the baton from Shakira, Lopez opened her portion of the show in a sort of black-leather biker’s outfit as she did “Jenny from the Block” and “Ain’t It Funny.” During “Get Right,” she riffed on another Springsteen signature — his famous knee-slide from the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show — then tore off her leather jacket to do an impressive pole-dance routine during “Waiting for Tonight”; the sequence couldn’t help but feel like a callback to her acclaimed (if frustratingly Oscar-snubbed) performance in last year’s stripper-heist movie “Hustlers.”
Lopez’s special guest was J Balvin, who combined his throbbing “Mi Gente” with her “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” Then she did “On the Floor,” with members of a kids’ choir inside what looked like illuminated bird cages, before the “Let’s Get Loud” moment. The show ended with Lopez and Shakira joining forces to do “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” Shakira’s theme from the 2010 World Cup.
“Muchas gracias,” Shakira said after that song. “Thank you so much,” Lopez added. It was one more gesture anyone could understand.