The sports world is excited for Tom Brady to reach his 10th Super Bowl this Sunday against Patrick Mahomes. But when Brady, seeking his seventh ring in an infallible Hall of Fame run, leaves the field at halftime, he will cede center stage to a man who makes the decisions for the 12th consecutive Super Bowl, and whose decisions are contested. debated and perhaps even mocked.
No matter the on-field action in the game, for many, this weekend is all about The Weeknd. And the man who helped bring the pop megastar’s Super Bowl LV halftime show to life is a British television director named Hamish Hamilton.
Since the show headlined by The Who in 2010, Hamilton, now 54, has been involved in showcasing musicians so famous we know them by only one name: Madonna! Beyoncé! Gagá !, or bands that have made the soundtrack of a generation, like Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Black Eyes Peas.
The global interest in the halftime show is nothing new, although 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the NFL’s turnaround from traditional bands to contemporary music acts, and what a change it was.
Super Bowl XXV, also held in Tampa, began with a sublime rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by none other than Whitney Houston.
Halftime was billed as “A Little Worldwide Salute to 25 Years of the Special Bowl” with New Kids on the Block.
Operation Desert Storm resulted in the show being delayed until after the game with a Gulf War news report in place.
It was a watershed moment and the league never looked back, reserving household names like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Boyz II Men in the 1990s.
The Aughties witnessed U2’s cathartic performance after 9/11, the infamous Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake incident, known as the “Nipplegate” of 2004, and Prince in 2007, often cited as the best half time of the season. history.
All of these performances were pivotal moments before Hamilton took the reins in 2010.
The audience has even dwarfed the audience for the game itself at times: In 2015, Katy Perry and her colorful companions drew 118.5 million viewers, compared to the game’s average audience of 114.4 million.
For Hamilton, raised in northern England in the 1970s, the very notion of the Super Bowl was literally a very strange concept.
“I grew up in Blackpool,” Hamilton tells CNN in a rare interview. “These are the days before the internet, mobile phones and global media sharing. My only knowledge of the sport really was my local football team, Blackpool, and many miles away in the big city, Liverpool, which at that time dominated European football. “
Hamilton attracted America’s attention after directing numerous BRIT Awards, the British equivalent of the Grammys, and while he has the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and Oscars on his resume, directing the halftime show of the Super Bowl is, well, the Super Bowl of your career when it comes to cultural influence.
“We always look across the Atlantic to this unknown land of opportunity and excellence,” he says. “Now, to be creating these huge shows in the very epicenter of American culture fills me with enormous pride.”