Super Bowl 56 Halftime Show: The Best Ever?

The Super Bowl halftime show is always filled with talented musicians and performers, but this year’s Super Bowl had a wide range of artists, from Kendrick Lamar to Snoop Dogg. A stark contrast to the halftime show last year with The Weeknd, who performed solo with no special guests.

The set of the halftime show this year was a house with multiple rooms that all have three walls, so that it is open to the viewers. 

The halftime show opened with Dr. D.R.E. on a giant soundboard and then panned to Snoop Dog rapping “The Next Episode” as he walked down stairs into the first room of the setup. Dre then rapped his verse from “California Love” by Tupac, a tribute to the late rapper. In this first scene, we see Snoop Dogg wearing a bright blue and yellow tracksuit, a contrast to the all black attire worn by all of the other performers. 

The camera then panned to 50 Cent, a surprise guest, hanging upside down in another room of the set performing “In Da Club”, his most popular song. 50 Cent was discovered by Eminem and his first album, including the song “In Da Club”, was produced by Dr. Dre and Eminem.  

Next, Mary J. Blige appears on the top of the roof in a silver sequined suit to perform a mashup of her most popular songs, “No More Drama” and “Family Affair”. Blige also has backup dancers. She had a dramatic ending to her scene, falling back and laying on the stage while the camera moved down below for the scene with Kendrick Lamar.

On the ground in front of the set, Kendrick Lamar and his backup dancers appeared in boxes that said “Dre Day”. Similarly, Kendrick’s backup dancers were dressed in marching band uniforms, with sashes that said “Dre Day” as well. In line with the marching band theme, Kendrick’s backup dancers moved into various band formations. The camera work for this scene was very Kendrick, with fast movements and dramatic zooms. (side note: I didn’t realize how short Kendrick Lamar was; he’s 5 ‘6). Kendrick performed clips from “Humble” and then “Alright”, both of which were highly censored for the halftime show. 

After Kendrick Lamar, the camera moved onto the top of the set, with Eminem rapping “Lose Yourself”, one of his most popular songs. In the background of his set, Anderson .paak played drums and Dre played piano. After his set, Eminem took a knee during Dre’s finale, in the style of Colin Kaepernick. His kneel is significant because it symbolizes protest against racism and police brutality.

Finally, Dre and Snoop Dogg performed the final song of the show, “Still D.R.E.”, and all of the performers gathered on top of the set to wrap the show up.

Since the Super Bowl was in California this year, the halftime show took place while there was still light outside, about 5 PM there, eliminating the option for light effects. The Weeknd’s performance last year had lots of pyrotechnics, including fireworks near the end of the show (shown below).

the weeknd performs at the 2021 superbowl half time show
credit CBS

Because of the iconic performers this year, I think that Super Bowl 56’s halftime show did not necessarily need all the effects that The Weeknd had. The stars who performed in this halftime show were able to keep the audience engaged, along with the fast-paced music and movements. I think this halftime show was a 10/10, from the set to the performers to the song choice, it couldn’t have been better.