In 2007, NFL legend Dan Marino found himself almost drenched under an umbrella on the sideline, witnessing Prince’s iconic “Purple Rain” Super Bowl halftime performance during a Miami downpour. Marino, reflecting on the transformation of halftime shows, once considered a humdrum intermission, now regards them as one of sports’ grandest spectacles, featuring performances from the likes of Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Aerosmith, and U2.
Over the nearly six decades since its inception, halftime shows have evolved from family-oriented displays with patriotic tunes into entertainment extravaganzas with top-tier performers, pyrotechnics, and superb backup dancers. The 12-12-15-minute performances often draw more viewers than the actual championship game, consistently attracting over 100 million viewers.
Rihanna’s performance last year set a record with over 121 million viewers, surpassing Katy Perry’s 2015 show. The halftime show’s unpredictability, such as Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” Lady Gaga descending from a stadium roof, and Rihanna’s pregnancy reveal, adds an element of excitement for viewers.
As actor Scarlett Johansson describes, the halftime show is a massive production with numerous moving pieces, creating anticipation and nervous excitement. Celebrities like Kris Jenner consider it a “giant surprise,” applauding the increasing production level and quick assembly during commercial breaks.
Usher, headlining the 2024 show in Las Vegas, signifies a vast departure from the first Super Bowl halftime show in 1967, featuring marching bands. The NFL’s commitment to cultural relevance and empowerment for artists has led to diverse and memorable performances, with hip-hop artists headlining in 2022.
Seth Dudowsky, head of music at the NFL, emphasizes the league’s focus on leading into culture and providing a platform for artists to express their artistry. Collaborating with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation since 2019, the NFL has propelled the halftime show forward. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s 2022 performance marked the first show to feature hip-hop artists.
Snoop Dogg praises NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay-Z for advancing the halftime show, recognizing the universal appeal of music and its power to bring people together. Usher, described by Snoop Dogg as fitting the mold perfectly, represents a real entertainer with hit records, promising an engaging performance.