Review: The 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show

A show that celebrates both the music and architecture of Compton.

On Feb. 13, the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show boasted a first in the lineage of halftime shows. This Super Bowl Halftime Show was the first of its kind to feature an all hip hop line up of artists that included Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar, alongside guest appearances by 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak. Being from Los Angeles, a lot of aspects of the performance resonated with me, the most obvious being the music, but the set was the first aspect that caught both my attention and admiration.

There were several elements of the set that immediately stood out, especially in comparison to previous halftime show sets. With the exception of 2021’s show headlined by The Weeknd, the stages are usually just platforms with lights that are nothing more than a canvas for the artist(s) to perform on. However, this year the set took on a life of its own, being part of the show through artist interaction with the environment and the set actively conveying the history of Compton. A notable example includes the studio mixer Dr. Dre would interact with, changing sound channels and levels throughout the performance. Another memorable example was when Eminem literally broke out of the Compton Courthouse on the left end of the stage to begin his part of the show. Speaking of a notable Compton landmark, everything about the set exuded Compton’s personality. On the field was a projection of the map of Compton. Then, on both ends of the set were the Compton Courthouse and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, both images synonymous with the city. Growing up at my grandma’s place I had a great view of the towering courthouse; even now I can close my eyes and picture it in my head. In between the courthouse and the memorial were other notable locations like the Tams #21 on the corner of Central and Rosecrans Ave, both streets I repeatedly crossed through. Each building on the set featured the rooftop and a hollowed-out interior, both spaces the artists could perform in. Even the interiors of the sets conveyed either the personality of Compton or the history of the artists. For example, the building that housed the mixer Dr. Dre used featured a projection of his studio and accolades. During Snoop Dogg’s performance of  “The Next Episode,” there were projections of his old album covers and music videos including the scene where he turns into a Doberman from “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and the cover for “Doggystyle.” Other parts of the set included projections of other notable locations like Dale’s Donuts on Atlantic and Alondra Boulevard. In sum, all of the components of the set design worked together not just to serve as a canvas, but as its own performer, speaking aloud insight into the culture and history of both Compton and its hip hop scene.

Moving on from the set to the music, all of the artists seemed to be enjoying their time there. For instance, Snoop Dogg, who looked like he felt at home “crip walking” his way throughout the set, or Dr. Dre and Anderson .Paak constantly smiling throughout the show. You could see the passion in the eyes and facial expression of Mary J. Blige as she sang the words to “No More Drama,” and in Kendrick Lamar through his movements as he sang, most notably the way he twitched his hands to the speed of his verse from “Alright.” All of the song choices were great as they all recalled the history and influence of hip hop from both the old and new generation. My only issue with the entire performance is that Kendrick Lamar didn’t perform more. Lamar only performed the intro to “m.A.A.d city” and “Alright” from the albums “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “To Pimp a Butterfly” respectively. These two albums are arguably the best in his discography, always swapping the number one and number two spots in most peoples’ rankings, so it makes sense for those songs to have been there. However, he completely left out his most recent album, 2017’s “DAMN,” which received both critical and commercial success. Kendrick also has a history of performing unreleased music or music for future releases, like during his performance at the 58th Grammy Awards where he performed “Untitled 05” a month before “Untitled Unmastered” was even released, but nothing of the like was done either. Although the show was clearly more geared towards “old heads,” as both Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg dominated the show, it would have been amazing to see Kendrick Lamar take the reins for longer, demonstrating a passing of the torch moment, rather than just coexisting with Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg continuing to rap soon after.

Regardless of my slight critique of the limited performance from Kendrick Lamar, I still believe that everything about the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show blended together to make the perfect tribute to the history of hip hop and the city of Compton. For it being the first time hip hop took center stage at the Super Bowl, it made a great first impression and will definitely be in the conversation as one of the greatest halftime shows of all time.

Grade: A
Artists: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Anderson .Paak
Director: Hamish Hamilton

Image courtesy of CBS Sports.

3 thoughts on “Review: The 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show

  1. Oh my goodness ♥️
    I don’t care for rap music, but through this halftime show.
    I feel a Huge Respect for these Artists who come from different walks of Life.. The talent and the blessings are so down to earth and truly beautiful.. Your Time to Shine was Perfect.. Wishing You All The Best.

  2. Worst Super Bowl ever! The acoustics were awful, the set was awful you could not understand some of the words.. A very bland boring presentation! Mary J was the only good part. All those women shaking their asses was so yesterday. No wonder Pepsi has stopped their support! Awful!

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