The halftime show at Super Bowl LVI on Sunday promises hip-hop heroes, legends such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.
So what should viewers expect?
For starters, with all that star power, the year promises perhaps a few more pyrotechnics than the Super Bowl I halftime show at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967, which featured two marching bands, trumpeter jazz band Al Hirt and Anaheim High School’s Ana-Hi-Steppers Drill Team (though we bet they were all great too).
Sunday features five of hip-hop’s biggest artists, three of whom were practically born and raised in the backyard of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals will occupy the field on either side of the halftime show.
This year’s halftime show should be very important. What size? The soft drink company sponsoring the show generated huge buzz a few weeks ago with the release of a splashy cinematic trailer.
In it, Dre moved pieces around a three-dimensional chessboard, summoning Kendrick, Mary, Snoop, and Em to Los Angeles to do battle with any reckless mortals thinking of moving on to the Puppy Bowl at halftime.
So let’s dive into the seriousness and ridiculousness of the Super Bowl halftime show we’ve been hoping and waiting to see.
Details remain mostly under wraps, but this should help you understand the upcoming show.
1. Local legends: Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar were both born and raised in Compton, and Snoop Dogg hails from Long Beach. That probably makes it the Super Bowl halftime show with the most local legends on its lineup.
In this soft drink commercial, Lamar rides a tricked-out Stingray bike to SoFi. Snoop swings by the beach in his lowrider with hydraulic jacks to give Dre a boost. They don’t need to consult Google maps to get around; it is their territory.
In this group, Dre is the leader because his legendary career – first as a member of the groundbreaking rap group NWA, later as a solo artist, producer and Beats by Dre mogul – includes mentoring Snoop and Lamar early in their careers.
Dre highlighted Snoop on his 1992 solo debut, “The Chronic,” which helped relaunch Snoop’s own career a year later when he made his debut with “Doggystyle.”
Lamar was 8 when he saw Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur filming a version of their “California Love” music video. Years later, Dre invited Lamar to join him on his never-released album “Detox,” featuring Snoop, shortly before Lamar released his first proper album in 2011.
2. Visit power plants: Eminem and Mary J. Blige are from Detroit and Yonkers, New York respectively.
Dr. Dre and Eminem often worked together on each other’s albums and songs, such as “Guilty Conscience”, “Forgot About Dre”, and “I Need A Doctor”.
Dre co-wrote Blige’s song “Family Affair” and she made guest appearances on his songs such as “The Message.”
3. Foolproof Songs: It’s tricky partly because you have five artists and a limited time, limiting the number of songs that will fit even after being cut into medleys like Super Bowl acts usually do. But we’ll choose one for each artist, and you can judge how we do it.
Dr. Dre: “Nuthin’ But AG Thang” is a classic track from “The Chronic,” and it featured Snoop, a bonus when you have to squeeze five performers.
Snoop Dogg: “Drop It Like It’s Hot” is a fun and catchy song that’s perfect for boys and girls.
Mary J. Blige: “Family Affair” on Sunday will mean Mary and the guys all play on this one.
Eminem: We were thinking of ‘Lose Yourself’, but it’s a bit dark, so let’s go with ‘Rap God’, a nice slice of happy swagger.
Kendrick Lamar: He does “Humble” in the halftime trailer, but our pick is “All The Stars,” his Oscar-nominated song from “Black Panther.”
And the bonus you get for the finale: “California Love,” by the late Tupac Shakur, featuring Dr. Dre, and town names from across the state, including Inglewood, which SoFi calls home.
4. Mid-game play: Sure, some people bet on the match, but there are also bets on the halftime show.
Prop bets, which are bets unrelated to the actual game, cover topics such as which performer will perform first – Dr. Dre is the favorite, followed by Mary J. Blige – and whether there whether or not it will have more than 8.5 songs. performed in the show.
You can bet if Eminem will be censored during his performance and which song is likely to play first. “California Love,” our pick for the finale, is favored in the latter.
And, of course, you can bet cannabis connoisseur Snoop Dogg will light up during the show. Probably not, right? But pleasure money says yes.
5. Super SoCal: Southern California has hosted seven Super Bowls before this one, and to be honest, only one of them had a halftime show to tell.
Most of them happened in the pre-modern era of the halftime show when the NFL apparently asked all marching bands or jazz or mid-road pop bands that wished to do so.
But the modern era, in which pop stars, rock bands, country singers and eventually hip-hop artists took over, came on January 31, 1993, when Super Bowl XXVII invited Michael Jackson to perform at the Rose Bowl.
Two years later, there were no NFL teams in the Los Angeles area, which not only deprived fans of home games for more than two decades, but also prevented us from getting great Super Bowl halftime shows so far.