While I may not a big fan of sports, I always end up watching the Super Bowl for two reasons: for one, there’s normally a trailer for the next Star Wars or Marvel movie in there. The second reason is the halftime show, which is usually 10-15 minutes of extravagant, musical madness. In recent years, the halftime show has been a celebration and cultural touchstone that has become as important as the Super Bowl itself. Performers invited to take part in the historic show have included Lady Gaga, Prince, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and even The Who. Some other years have also included huge ensembles, bringing huge amounts of celebrities together or even reuniting them; one year, Beyonce performed with Destiny’s Child.
Due to the huge legacy that these shows have (and how incredible many of the performances have been) it’s always disappointing when the choice of performer isn’t exactly inspiring. Last year, Justin Timberlake performed. I know the man is popular, but he’s not exactly the most exciting act around. When he tried to “bring sexy back”, he actually set sexiness back by a whole decade — we’re still recovering from that misstep.
It wasn’t overly memorable but it was fine. A few lacklustre shows every now and then are allowed, even if they shouldn’t be encouraged. This year though, I’m a bit dubious: Maroon 5 will be headlining the show, with appearances by Travis Scott and apparently, someone called ‘Big Boi’. This might be the least promising lineup I’ve ever seen for a halftime show. At least Katy Perry had the hysterical dancing sharks!
These shows are supposed to be exciting. They should be the biggest stars of the moment, an all-time classic act, or even someone so radical that it’s amazing they’re there at all (I am still infuriated that Metallica lost out to Coldplay in 2016). Maroon 5 doesn’t fit any of those categories. When was the last time they had a hit? When was the last time you met someone whose favourite band was Maroon 5? How many of their songs can you even remember? Maybe in 2006 they would have been fun, but they’re just so benign. It doesn’t bode well for the show.
While we’re at it, whatever happened to the themed shows? The halftime performance used to be put together around a central theme, and they brought in a huge variety of acts that suited that theme. ‘98’s show was a salute to Motown and included everyone from Boyz II Men to The Temptations and it was astounding. The year before that they had the Blues Brothers with ZZ Top for crying out loud. These shows used to be so inspiring and they stood out as an experience you couldn’t get anywhere else. It seems that over the past couple of years, they’ve reduced it to just a concert, which is kind of sad. If you’re putting together a show for the most watched event on television, you’d better make it a celebration. If you’re choosing only one performer, you’d best have the biggest star in the world ready to go or you’re just preparing for a letdown.