Tonight has certainly been a night of football being played, with some kicks, throws, and running happening on and around the field (plus a guy from the Bengals getting the team in trouble because he ran in to celebrate a touchdown in his regular clothes, which was pretty funny), but the Super Bowl itself is only half of the Super Bowl. The other half is the Halftime Show, which is sometimes way better than the game and sometimes way worse.
With a big lineup of big names, it would be hard for this year’s show to have been a disaster, which is at least a nice approach (and better than expecting people to pay attention to several minutes of Aerosmith or whatever). The show, which took place on a big re-creation of a neighborhood block, with houses offering stages on the roofs and on little sets inside, opened with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (who was in the news recently) running through some hits (with a nod to Tupac Shakur).
Mary J. Blige stopped by for her own run of hits, setting up a choreographed dance routine with Kendrick Lamar, and then after a few references to people forgetting about Dre (perish the thought), Eminem popped up, literally, for “Lose Yourself”—with Anderson .Paak showing him up in the background on drums. Dre came back to twinkle on the piano keys, and then everyone came back for a final number together.
But we’re leaving out what was arguably the highlight: An unannounced appearance from 50 Cent, who showed up upside down in one of the houses just like in the “In Da Club” video! Everyone was putting on a good show, but c’mon, hanging upside down sucks, especially if you’re doing it on live TV during the Super Bowl. Pepsi could’ve wheeled him out upside down, had him just say “It’s me, 50 Cent!” before going back to the football game, and it still would’ve been a solid halftime show.
An interesting aspect of the show, and one that everyone should’ve seen coming with a halftime show based around West Coast rappers, is that the NFL (or NBC or Pepsi or all of them together) took an... interesting approach to censoring some political moments. The audio was dropped for a second when Kendrick Lamar said “We hate the popo,” but not when Dre said “Still don’t love the police.”
Supposedly, the latter line and Eminem’s decision to kneel at the end of his performance were “nixed” by the NFL, but they obviously happened anyway. Maybe Dre and Eminem said they wouldn’t do it so the NFL/NBC/Pepsi didn’t know they should be ready to bleep or cut away, but Lamar’s line getting bleeped was planned?