by Anne DeLello ’20 A&E Staff
As Super Bowl LIII approaches, the only thing getting almost as much buzz as the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams is the National Football League (NFL)’s halftime show. The coveted slot is occupied by elite artists year after year, including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. The guaranteed exposure from performing on Super Bowl Sunday is unparalleled to any other opportunity that an artist can have throughout their career, with over 100 million Americans watching. In the past, artists have taken advantage of this publicity with out-of-the-box performances, leading to many memorable halftime show moments. Prince’s performance of “Purple Rain” during a downpour at Super Bowl XLI is certainly one that will not be forgotten.
Even though the Super Bowl halftime show has been the holy grail of shows for artists in the past, it has recently lost its clout. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in America, and then stopped appearing on NFL rosters after doing so, the NFL lost the support of many artists. USA Today reported that Rihanna, Cardi B, and Jay Z all declined the NFL’s offer to perform at the Super Bowl this year in support of Kaepernick.
The NFL waited as long as possible before announcing who would perform at the halftime show on Feb. 3, before revealing that it will be Maroon 5. Travis Scott later announced that he would be performing as well, but only after “the NFL made a donation to a social justice organization” according to USA Today. American rapper Big Boi, one half of the Outkast duo and the only Atlanta native of the group, will also perform alongside Scott and Maroon 5, rounding out the show.
Fans of Maroon 5 signed petitions attempting to stop them from performing, making it known that they did not want the California-based pop band to get mixed up in the controversy that is the Super Bowl halftime show this year. Nevertheless, the band will perform in front of the country this Sunday. They have many popular songs to choose from for the show, including hits like “Moves Like Jagger” and “Sugar.” The band has “the most No. 1 singles by a group in the 20-year history of the top-40 chart,” with nine hit singles occupying the number one spot at one point. The halftime show performers have had recent success as well, with Travis Scott being nominated for six Grammys, and Big Boi winning six Grammys as part of Outkast.
The halftime show has fallen from its holy grail status, and artists are exercising their power in declining to perform. Despite the controversy, the show must go on. The NFL will need to develop a new relationship with the artists they want to perform at the Super Bowl. This is the beginning of a new chapter for the show, one in which the artists have the power.