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Beyoncé is Queen Bey, and Michael Jackson is the King of Pop. It makes sense that these musical royals shared a mutual respect for one another. When Beyoncé performed during the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show, she included a not-so-subtle reference to Jackson.

Beyoncé performed alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay for the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show

Beyoncé and Bruno Mars perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show.
Beyoncé and Bruno Mars perform during the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show. | Icon Sports Wire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In 2004, Beyoncé performed the U.S. national anthem at the Super Bowl. Then, in 2016, the Grammy Award-winning artist took center stage with her Super Bowl Halftime Show performance of “Formation.” 

“I feel like part of the reason I rehearse so much and part of the reason I study everything is so I can completely let go and relax,” Beyoncé said during a 2016 interview with Elle. “The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the biggest moments you can imagine as a performer, as an artist.”

The artist performed her original song alongside Chris Martin of Coldplay and “Just the Way You Are” artist Bruno Mars. Beyoncé’s outfit, in particular, referenced the legendary artist Michael Jackson.

Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Halftime Show performance included a reference to Michael Jackson

Even before Beyoncé started singing, fans noticed references to the Black Panther Party, an organization that was formed to challenge police brutality. That symbolism was apparent in the black berets worn by the background dancers. 

Beyoncé did not wear a black beret. She did, however, sport an outfit similar to the King of Pop, as noted by BBC News.

Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance featured another nod to the “Black or White” singer. In “Formation,” Beyoncé sings about having “Jackson 5 nostrils,” referencing Jackson’s family band. 

Beyoncé is a longtime fan of Jackson. Even “halfway across the world,” Queen Bey performed “I Wanna Be Where Your Are” in the 2011 Michael Jackson Tribute Concert.

“I remember seeing Michael Jackson for the first time,” Beyoncé said before starting her cover. “Lord knows I fell in love. Watching him, I realized exactly what I wanted to be. He inspired me so much.” 

“As a matter of fact, the first song I ever performed with Destiny’s Child was a Jackson 5 song. It was called ‘Where You Are,’” she continued. “I love you forever, Michael Jackson.”

The 2016 halftime show was part of a new era for Beyoncé

The 2016 Super Bowl performance ushered in a new era for Queen Bey, mainly because of her album Lemonade. The visual album debuted the same year and included songs such as “Hold Up,” “Freedom,” and “Formation.” 

Lemonade described Beyoncé’s reaction to her husband’s infidelity. It also featured themes of empowerment for women and people of color. In that respect, Beyoncé’s Black Panther- and Michael Jackson-inspired Super Bowl performance was even more appropriate. 

Music by Beyoncé is available on most major streaming platforms.