LOS ANGELES (AP) — Under his umbrella, NFL legend Dan Marino stood nearly soaked on the sidelines watching Prince’s epic 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance of “Purple Rain” during a torrential downpour in Miami. .
For Marino, Prince’s iconic show was one of the biggest moments in the history of halftime shows, which were once seen as a boring intermission with college marching bands. But over time, the midway point of the NFL championship game has become one of the biggest spectacles in sports with performances by superstars from Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Aerosmith and U2.
“The halftime performance goes a long way,” said the Hall of Fame quarterback who played 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins and competed in the 1985 Super Bowl. As an NFL analyst, Marino had a front-row seat at several halftime shows.
“Not many people really saw it,” he continued. “But now, as we get closer to Super Bowl 58, people love watching the halftime show.”
In nearly six decades, halftime festivities have transformed from a family-friendly spectacle with patriotic tunes to entertainment’s biggest stage with top-notch performers, pyrotechnics and magnificent backup dancers. The 12- to 15-minute performance sometimes draws more eyes than the actual championship game, consistently drawing more than 100 million viewers.
Last year, Rihanna’s performance became the most watched in history with more than 121 million viewers, barely surpassing Katy Perry’s 2015 show. The figure for Rihanna’s set is approximately six million more than the broadcast of Fox of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 38-35 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I think the live element is very exciting for people because it’s a huge production and there are a lot of moving pieces,” said actress Scarlett Johansson, who doesn’t consider herself a soccer enthusiast. But she’s intrigued by the unpredictability of the halftime show, like Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” Lady Gaga’s fall from a stadium roof and Rihanna’s pregnancy reveal.
“You watch with nervous excitement,” Johansson said. “You know that at any moment something could go wrong. That’s why it’s so fun to watch because you have all this anticipation. The production is huge and many people have come together to create this moment. “It’s something amazing.”
Kris Jenner agrees, calling the halftime show a “big surprise.”
“The level of production and the speed with which they put it together as they broke into commercials and came back with this fabulous, epic show,” said Jenner, the matriarch of the reality TV show “The Kardashians.” “Through all the years and technology, it just keeps getting better. It’s very exciting to watch them and see what they come up with next and who will perform. It is a very important thing”.
Usher, who last year told The Associated Press that his appearance with the Black Eyed Peas during the 2011 Super Bowl taught him not to “take moments for granted because you only have 13 of them,” will headline this year’s show at Las Vegas next February. eleven.
Their show will be very different from the NFL’s first Super Bowl halftime show in 1967, which featured marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University, a historically black university, along with hundreds of flying pigeons, thousands of balloons and two men flying. using jetpacks.
After the inaugural Super Bowl, the NFL continued to bring back other marching bands, drill teams, hired Chubby Checker, and Up with People, an organization that introduces positive thinking through dance and song performances. However, none of those acts were considered big draws.
But as the Super Bowl’s popularity skyrocketed and game day emerged as an unofficial holiday in the U.S., the NFL wanted the halftime show to grow in the same capacity. The league turned to New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan for the first two years of the ’90s. Then came a breakthrough when Michael Jackson headlined the 1993 show at Southern California’s Rose Bowl, where the King of Pop performed famously moonwalked across the stage and performed hits like “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” and “Heal the World.” .”
Jackson’s stellar performance opened the door for other stars like the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira who are eager to perform.
“That was certainly what turned the tide for pop stars and great musicians taking the stage seriously,” said Seth Dudowsky, NFL director of music. He is the point person for all of the league’s music activations and a liaison with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which has produced the halftime show since 2019.
The NFL handles production costs and expenses for the artists (who are not paid), but the exposure to hundreds of millions of people around the world is considered invaluable.
Dudowsky recalled when Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said that “the Super Bowl of music is the Super Bowl.” He said the halftime show has been able to grow because of the NFL’s ability to adapt to today’s culture and give deserving artists the platform to express their art.
Some notable examples include U2’s remembrance of the victims of 9/11; Beyoncé’s unapologetic blackness and political activism through her black power anthem “Formation”; and the first show to feature hip-hop artists led by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in 2022.
“We really wanted to start focusing on leading the culture,” said Dudowsky, who has worked in the NFL since 2013 and attended 11 Super Bowls. “Whether it’s the culture of the city, what’s happening in the culture at large and then focusing on that so that what we’re doing feels culturally relevant and using that platform so artists can be themselves and show their art in stage. … We want them to feel empowered.”
Dogg praised NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z for pushing the halftime show. The league worked with Roc Nation to help its Inspire Change initiative, created by the NFL after an agreement with a coalition of players who demonstrated during the national anthem to protest social and racial injustice in this country.
“Shout out to Jay-Z for changing the climate. Roger Goodell for giving him a chance,” Dogg said. “This is music. The music that dictates the world is what is playing now at halftime. They are beginning to understand that it is about what those players want to hear, what those fans want to hear and what is universally effective. No longer “It has color. Pop used to have color. Now pop is popular. So the most popular music is the music we make. It makes sense to include those people who make that music.”
Dogg said Usher “fits the mold perfectly.
“He looks good. He dances good. He sounds good,” the rapper said. “All of the above. And he has records of success. You want to see that. You want to see an artist perform. “You want to see a real artist.”