Karina Florez / Co-Editor
When I first heard that Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were going to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, I was perplexed. I wasn’t sure what to expect since the two have never collaborated on a song together, and I’ve never seen them interact with each other.
They also have different sounds. Shakira has experimented with many genres such as pop, rock, country and electronic music. Lopez has mostly stuck with an R&B, pop and now more urban sounds. In a world where collaborations in the music industry are a must-have, this was the perfect marriage of Latinas for a show that millions of people tune into.
When I lived in Colombia, Shakira was a thing even before she hit the English market. She was known locally as the rocker chick who wrote intricate, clever poetry and converted them into pop songs. When I came back to the states, Lopez was known as “Jenny from the Block,” and she was still in a relationship with Ben Affleck. I loved Shakira as a kid because she was the piece of Colombia I took with me when I went to live in northern New Jersey. I also loved Lopez because where she grew up, The Bronx, was not too far away from me. I felt a connection.
While I was perplexed at the notion that the two were performing, I also wondered how that would work out. Would they perform together? Or would they do two separate performances?
Since I didn’t watch the halftime show that Sunday, I had to catch up with the influx of Super Bowl memes that were trolling the internet and watch it on YouTube.
When I first saw Shakira on the stage, I was amazed. She’s someone who came from such a poor country and became an international star and philanthropist. That doesn’t happen to just anyone, especially in a country like Colombia.
She performed her English hits, but watching it I knew so much more of her songs, even before “Hips Don’t Lie.” The part of her performance that got to me the most was when she started to perform dances that are hyperlocal to the northern coast of Colombia, where Shakira is from.
Shakira dancing the mapalé, which is more popular around carnaval, and champeta, a genre of music that has African roots, brought tears to my eyes. This was my culture that was being represented on the world stage, and for a moment I felt proud to be Colombian. For me, Shakira represents where my family is from, like home.
Watching Shakira and Lopez’s performances, I noticed how different, yet alike, these artists are. I saw a photo of them speaking at a NFL press conference this month. Lopez looked elegant in her outfit, while Shakira sported a more casual look, wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt. It was a comforting moment of female camaraderie. I’d seen many female American artists form friendships, but seeing two Latinas was special.
This year’s halftime show was a celebration of Latin artists. Bad Bunny and J. Balvin also performed, but the spotlight was on Shakira and Lopez. The show took a turn when Lopez sang Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” She sported a coat that had the Puerto Rican flag on the front and the American flag in the back, paying homage to the places she holds near and dear to her heart.
Lopez’s performance was a reminder of Latinos living in the United States. She represents the first-generation Latin American. Yes, I was born in the USA, but my parents call another place “home.” That is true of many of my Latino friends who struggle with not being “Hispanic enough” or being “American enough,” or sometimes their parents say that about them.
This performance was a symbol of, like Shakira, being a foreigner but accepting American culture, and Lopez, being the child of immigrants and being proud of your roots. You don’t have to be Hispanic or American enough. You can be both, and that’s okay.