Before 2020’s Super Bowl, some were arguing that Jennifer Lopez, the pre-announced halftime performer, didn’t “need” Shakira at the halftime performance.
It was an odd framing of the narrative, for sure: almost every Super Bowl halftime show in recent has included a cameo performance, surprise or otherwise.
Adding another incredibly successful, Grammy-winning Latina performer should only have been seen as a benefit to the event. But, did J.Lo actually get outshined at her own Super Bowl half time by Shakira?
Lopez, age 50 (if you can believe it), is a triple threat. The pop star has a long music career, she’s trained in dance (and serves as a judge on World of Dance), and her most recent role in the movie Hustlers garnered Oscar buzz. J.Lo’s successful Vegas residency proved how well the singer can hang (she might be more in shape than anyone you know).
Shakira is famous in the U.S. for bops like 2005’s “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Walka Walka” the official theme song of the 2010 World Cup. But she’s a total powerhouse of music in the Latin music world. (She’s the most-streamed Latina artist on Spotify). She also coached baby singers on The Voice and has won 13 Grammys.
While Lopez has more recognizability in the States (Lopez grew up in the Bronx; Shakira was born in Colombia), worldwide, Shakira dominates.
On the evening of the Super Bowl LIV, we saw why. Shakira opened the show with a stage full of dancers gyrating along with her to “She Wolf.” It only got better from there; there was a bit with a rope that had us sweating.
While Lopez is clearly trained and rehearsed, Shakira’s movement is so natural. (As we know, her hips don’t lie; that’s still very clear). Shakira’s dancing looks easy – which it’s not, but it should. She also casually starts playing the electric guitar on the second song? And later, we see her rocking out the drums. This girl has levels.
Shakira vs. J.Lo is a near-impossible comparison: the two can sing, dance, and perform
Then, Shakira goes into a cover of “Like It” that makes the original song sound like garbage (OK, that’s an exaggeration). Men in red suits come out with brass instruments and do salsa for “Chantaje.” Then, just after “Hips Don’t Lie” starts, Shakira does a full trust fall into the audience, while her dancers just jump for their lives on stage. Then she does a wild noise with her tongue out into the camera. Because why not?
Have you ever seen anyone having a better time?! Not until the very end of her set, where Shakira leaps out of her sea of dancers, and karate kicks into the air. What a legend.
In comparison to Lopez’s half of the show, Shakira had several more moments where she as a performer was featured: Shakira’s singing talent, her provocative, sharp dance moves–and again, the part with the rope that had us feeling some type of way. But then, her dancers are just as fun to watch: they’re all strong, fierce, and look like they’re having the time of their lives.
Lopez had a strong set; the woman can dance. She has catchy songs. But she can’t shake her hips like Shakira, and her songs aren’t quite as relevant or up-to-date.
The difference between the two singers’ Super Bowl halftime shows
That being said, Lopez had this going for her: SPECTACLE. The male dancers with their shiny canes killed the game. Lopez does a full costume change into a very sheer jumpsuit, and then climbs a pole in it. She spins around the pole effortlessly as she starts to sing the solid throwback, “Waiting for Tonight.”
However, we all know the unwritten rule of Dancing With the Stars is: the more spectacle you have around you (background dancers, props, in other words: distractions from the dancing), the less talented the celebrity dancer.
<blockquote>Speaking of distractions, after a big dance break, a bunch of children come out!</blockquote>
Lopez’s daughter and a bunch of other tiny girls in white outfits sing “Let’s Get Loud” with her. The baby salsa dancers are really cute. But we have to admit, we were psyched to see Shakira’s amazing dancers return to the stage all clad in gold, for the World Cup banger, “Walka Walka.”
Lopez’s shining moment is probably her manically fast salsa. We also salute Lopez for singing “Born in the U.S.A.” while wearing a coat depicting Puerto Rico’s flag. (Reminding anyone that needed a reminder: Puerto Rico is the U.S.A.). While Lopez was born in New York, her parents are Puerto Rican.
The two singers close out the show together, shaking their hips as the fireworks blast in the sky.