Shakira & J-Lo’s Super Bowl Halftime Show: The Tip Of The Latin Iceberg

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez,
Kevin Mazur/WireImage
– Shakira and Jennifer Lopez,
pictured together at the 2009 Latino Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C. The power-pair’s Super Bowl Halftime show in Miami is a breakout moment in the rise of Latin Music in the U.S.

It would be an enormous understatement to say that Latin music is simply “having a moment.” In the last decade, the world has demonstrated a pervasive and insatiable hunger for Latin music in all its iterations: from new blood like flamenco queen Rosalía snatching her first Grammy, to Reggaeton All-Stars like Ozuna and Bad Bunny dominating the charts, to Romeo Santos’ record-shattering live performances.

“Romeo Santos pulled out all the stops and gave the audience an incredible night with multiple surprise guests and an Aventura reunion,” said Ron VanDeVeen, president and CEO of MetLife Stadium, of Santos’ September performance at the famous New Jersey venue, which packed an estimated 60,000 fans in 2019 and set the venue’s highest single night gross, surpassing U2. “We were very impressed with the strength of ticket sales and the passion of his fans who wanted to be here for this historic night. Santos played four hours at MetLife Stadium, which usually only happens when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are here.”
But the turnout for Santos, the Bachata King, is far from an anomaly. A recent study by Nielsen found that Latin music makes up a fifth of all video streaming. Likewise, the same study found that in 2018, Latin music grew by nearly 50%, compared to 17 percent for the market as a whole. These numbers are hardly surprising when considering the larger demographic shift taking place in the U.S.  From 2017 to 2022, the Hispanic population is expected to make up 58% of the population growth, representing over 20% of the country’s population, estimated at 52 million and skewing younger than the general population. Such numbers have bolstered the confidence of promoters and record executives to invest in all sorts of Spanish-language artists.
“The momentum is unstoppable,” said Hans Schafer, Head of Live Nation Latin. “I feel that we’ve crossed that threshold. Latin is the new mainstream.”
It should be no surprise, then, that the NFL chose both J-Lo and Shakira to front this year’s Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami. Although Gloria Estefan, Arturo Sandoval and Christina Aguilera have all been featured in the past, this is the first time that two Latinas are headlining the show. It’s a bold move considering some of the criticism Maroon 5 received headlining last year’s show in the wake of the Kaepernick-National Anthem controversy.
But neither Shakira nor J-Lo is a stranger to major world sporting events. Shakira contributed the official 2010 World Cup Song, the Afro-fusion infused “Waka Waka.” On the other end, J-Lo was featured in Pitbull’s World Cup contribution in 2014, “We Are One (Ole Ola),” alongside Brazilian recording artist Claudia Leitte.
“This year will be remembered as one of the greatest moments in Super Bowl history,” Schafer said, “and it is especially significant for the Latin community.” 
While both artists saw their initial success with American audiences in the early aughts, they’ve continued to deliver huge numbers in the live music market. According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, J-Lo and Shakira grossed nearly half a billion dollars in combined ticket sales in the past two decades and averaged well-over $1 million per show.
“Jennifer Lopez and Shakira are powerhouse entertainers that have been an indelible force in our culture and music for decades,” says Ignacio Meyer, Senior Vice President of Entertainment and Music at Univision. “Their music has transcended cultural and geographic barriers to become worldwide phenomena.”
That said, so much of today’s Latin music market has been saturated with a younger generation of talent like the aforementioned Rosalía or Camila Cabello and Becky G, which helps give a resonance to both JLo and Shakira’s presence as ambassadors of a wide-reaching movement. Both artists are emblematic of the initial Latin pop explosion in the late 90s, and one of only a handful to find success in the 2000s, alongside the likes of Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, among others. 
And as if the unlikely J-Lo and Shakira pairing wasn’t enough, the last-minute addition of Los Tigres Del Norte to the opening of the Spanish language Superbowl broadcast is sure to raise more than a few eyebrows and fill Hispanic audiences in the U.S. with unbridled glee. In a certain sense, this year’s Super Bowl halftime performance brings the Latin music movement back full circle, harkening back to the movement’s origins, back when some critics and skeptics still wrote it off as merely a fad. 
“It is a confirmation of what we already know,” said Meyer. “Latin music is here and it is here to stay.”