Jennifer Lopez sambaed on the stage of the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil Thursday afternoon (June 12), accompanying Pitbull and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte during a performance of the official song “We Are One.” Leitte, a star in Brazil, appeared first to warm up the crowd before Pitbull and Lopez rose up from the ground onto the small flower-shaped platform.
The three artists seemed hesitant, standing in a circle and waving their arms throughout the short performance. The song was generally met with a tepid response from the crowd, although a roar could be heard when Lopez, in a bust-revealing beaded leotard, sang her solo and showed off some samba steps. Pitbull’s usual outsize persona was muted as he stood in a Brazil shirt and tight cropped white pants; his vocals were drowned out by the Brazilian percussion troupe that provided live accompaniment to the track. Cheers from the crowd in Sao Paulo could be heard as the song ended.
Leitte, in a modest long-sleeved leotard in blue, the color of the Brazilian team’s shorts, acted as a buffer for the crowd in Brazil, where the song has been widely panned, playing cheerleader and rousing the crowd as leading Lopez and Pitbull off the stage to walk near the stands.
With days to go before the opening, FIFA announced the Lopez would not be present for performance because of “production” problems. Lopez later reversed that decision.
Since “We Are One”s debut earlier this year, social media has exploded with complaints that the song was neither “Brazilian enough” nor good enough to be worthy of the World Cup.
The opening ceremony, which began about two hours before the inaugural game between Brazil and Croatia, was a simple theatrical spectacle. Pointedly devoid of the sequins and exposed skin stereotypically associated with Brazil, and it was not the kind of big budget extravaganza likely to inflame the wrath of the country’s World Cup protestors. It included a tribute to music of Brazil from different regions, accompanied by dancers in regional costumes and capoeira performers.
Rather than the typical girls in Carnival outfits and drum beats, the 25-minute show opened with stilt walkers dressed as trees and dancers dressed as flowers representing the Amazon, accompanied by rainforest sounds and choral music. In the center of the stadium a “living” LED crystal ball changed colors and images according along with the live action.