On Super Bowl Sunday, 70,000 fans were packed into the sold-out SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to watch American Football’s showpiece event, Super Bowl LVI, see highlights and halftime music performances.
However, in addition to the thousands in attendance, traffic came to a standstill too as Yahoo reported that as many as 1 in 4 homes across the U.S. tuned in to the game, and around the world, over 100 million viewers would also watch the game between the L.A. Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.
The scene was set just over 10 miles from Hollywood for the underdog story to unfold on the pitch, with the unfancied Bengals fighting back from a first-half deficit to lead late in the game, which wasn’t expected at all. After all, two years ago, the Bengals were the NFL’s worst team, but they still made it all the way to the SoFi Stadium for Super Bowl LVI.
Nobody could see it coming, and they were underdogs in the Ladbrokes betting odds going into the game. Sure, they lost 20-23 to the Rams, but they put on an excellent show for the paying public. However, while the hometown heroes hoisted aloft the Vince Lombardi trophy in front of their adoring fans, people across the world were still talking about what had unfolded in the halftime show.
Aside from the stadium being close to Hollywood Boulevard, the venue for this year’s Super Bowl was also close to Compton, where a number of the artists who performed in their show first rose to prominence. Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg all hail from areas close by and were supported by 50 Cent and Mary J Blige – but Dre was the star of the show.
The 56-year-old led proceedings, much like he did right at the start of his career with the controversial rap group, NWA, entering the stage flanked by Snoop Dogg. Although everyone in the crowd was aware of who the stars were at this year’s performance, the noise almost tore off the roof of the SoFi Stadium as they emerged. Those roars of approval from the crowd raised even further when the opening riffs of “The Next Episode” played, signaling the start of a show which will live long in the memory.
Switching into “California Love” the whole stadium was now bouncing, before 50 Cent emerged, hanging from the rafters of the set like a bat just waiting for his moment to swoop and take over the stage. Although it wasn’t the performance of the night, few knew 50 Cent would be involved, the surprise was enough to keep the volume from the crowd cranked to 11 and the nostalgia of the thumping bassline in his track “In Da Club” indeed carried him through.
Mary J Blige represented the female artists of the era, and she was the only singer of the evening. Her two hits, “Family Affair” and “No More Drama“, kept people dancing before things returned to the West Coast with Lemar’s track “Alright” taking centre stage. However, if things hadn’t already hit an ear-piercing crescendo in the stadium, as his track transitioned into “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, the sight of the Grammy and Academy award-winning rapper on the set ensured L.A. residents could hear the sound in the stadium for miles.
All six performers were to join together to round out the set by performing “Still D.R.E“. It was quite fitting as all the artists have worked with or have a lot to thank the legendary rap artist for; it almost felt like a heartfelt thanks to him, and it also highlighted how influential hip hop has been in the entertainment industry for decades. While it wasn’t possible to take a peek into those 100+ million homes worldwide watching on, it would be hard to imagine any one of them not at least foot-tapping or head nodding to some of the most iconic sounds in music and entertainment history.
The event has led to some suggesting that it was the best ever, maybe their thoughts were a little influenced by it being a very LA centric event and the first one in front of a full crowd since Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlined in 2020.
While the debate will rumble on to decide which was the best, it is clear that this year’s event couldn’t have been more fitting as it exemplified everything about American culture, how it permeates the world and how it has for decades.