It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you’re a football fan, an advertising enthusiast, or someone that sadly still likes to post about “sportsball” on Twitter. The Super Bowl is coming on Sunday, February 13. But with all the hype surrounding the game, it can be hard to figure out the cold hard facts. That’s where The A.V. Club comes in handy because we’ve got all the important journalism Ws covered when it comes to the halftime show, which is about the only thing we’re qualified to comment on.
The NFL pulls out all the stops when it comes to halftime shows. This year’s no exception. Since the Super Bowl is taking place at the SoFi Stadium in beautiful Los Angeles, California, Pepsi is bringing in hometown heroes Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar, who will take the stage with fellow luminaries Mary J. Blige and Eminem. Deaf rappers Sean Forbes and Warren “WaWa” Snipe will also appear on the halftime show stage.
Pepsi was nice enough to put together a handy trailer that frames Dr. Dre as this year’s Super Bowl Chessmaster, maneuvering his powers as a media mogul and super-producer to assemble a rap Super Friends.
The video also posits a universe where millionaire Eminem flies commercial, which is, perhaps, one of the more fantastical elements of the spot—and we’re including the moment when a cresting wave assumes the shape of a piano and performs the opening chords to “Still D.R.E.”
Halftime during the Super Bowl. It’s sort of up to the game as to when the halftime show starts. So for now, we’ll just say that the Super Bowl is on February 13, 2022.
NBC will be airing the big game on television, which doesn’t exactly help all you millennial and Gen Z cord cutters. Thankfully, you can stream the thing on Peacock or the NBC Sports App. Gen Z loves Peacock as much as they loved Quibi, so we’re expecting this to go off without a hitch.
Kind of a weird time for us to be asking and answering this question, but it’s just a little concert to break up the action of the game, provide some time to say the word “Pepsi,” and entertain folks that might not care all that much about football. In other words, to entertain!
And entertain they have. Since the 1967 Super Bowl, when The University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band lit up the field with such bangers as “The Sound Of Music,” “William Tell Overture,” and, of course, “When The Saints Go Marching In,” the halftime show has more or less been a consistent feature of the game.
Over the next few decades, the show would continue as a marching band exhibition with occasional appearances by the positivity-based non-profit organization Up With People. Each year, the show would focus on a different theme, like “A Tribute To Louie Armstrong,” “200 Years and Just a Baby: A Tribute To America’s Bicentennial,” and the evocative “Something Grand.”
Before landing on just letting a famous musician perform, producers really tried to lean into spectacle. Twice in the 1980s, The Walt Disney Company concocted tributes to the most sacred of football artifacts: the movies. In 1984 and 1987, Disney entertained audiences with “Salute To Superstars Of Silver Screen.” Only once did Coca-Cola attempt a 3-D “Battle Of New Orleans” extravaganza. When Bob Costas introduced the experiment in 1989, he called it “the single proudest moment of my life.”
Disney’s productions helped usher in a new phase of the show. Aside from bringing in heavy-hitters like George Burns and Mickey Rooney for their tributes to tinsel town, in 1990 they brought the New Kids On The Block in to dance with Mickey and the gang. After that, pop stars ruled the stage, with Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder all getting a crack at the big show.
The ‘90s was really the last time producers experimented with the show. And by that we mean, present an Indiana Jones stage show tie-in for the Disney theme park ride, and a 1997 performance by the resurrected Blues Brothers, Dan Akroyd, John Goodman, and Jim Belushi. The halftime show probably emboldened the reformed brothers to make their ill-fated sequel.
Since then, it’s mostly been a variety of pop stars, new and old, who eschew the theme and basically just do their thing. Though there are some interesting lineups, like when Coldplay headlined over Beyoncé and Bruno Mars in 2016. Of course, they were upstaged by whatever controversy dogged Bey at the time and, also, um, Beyoncé’s power as a performer. Sorry, Coldplay, but Beyoncé had one of the most iconic Super Bowl performances of all time.
This year’s show continues the trend, so expect trends, hot takes, controversies, and hopefully an appearance from Up With People. The world needs their positivity now more than ever. Frankly, Marshall Mathers could benefit from their perspective.