Each year, the Super Bowl halftime show brings together music’s most talented and popular artists to perform a set in front of not only the fans at the stadium, but to millions of Americans at home. This year, Super Bowl LIII featured the band Maroon 5 as well as cameos from rappers Travis Scott and Atlanta native Big Boi.
Super Bowl LIII featured a mass of controversy surrounding who would perform this year. Many popular performers such as Rihanna, Jay-Z and Cardi B turned down performing at the Super Bowl in support for the Black Lives Matter movement, popularized in the NFL by San Francisco 49’ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
It was announced back in September 2018 that Maroon 5 would be headlining which garnered massive backlash from fellow artists and fans. Subsequently, the show seemed fated for failure.
The performance itself began with renditions of some of Maroon 5’s hit songs such as “Harder To Breathe” and “This Love”, however after concluding “This Love”, rapper Travis Scott began performing “STARGAZING” off of his most recent album, and this specific performance angered many fans. This was due to the ten second teaser of the beloved song “Sweet Victory” from the children’s tv show Spongebob Squarepants that recieved over one million signs on a petition for it to appear in the halftime show in remembrance of the creators death in 2018.
As the show went on, the three artists all mashed together rap, pop, rock, and even gospel, in an unfavorable way. There was a lack of connection between any genre, and it showed poor planning in the song choice and overall flow of the performance. Ultimately, the show did not sit well with fans, and many took to calling it the worst super bowl halftime show.
While it may be considered one of the worst, what constitutes a good halftime show? One of the most popular halftime shows in recent years is Super Bowl L. That particular halftime show was headlined by Coldplay, featuring Bruno Mars and Beyonce.
Coldplay utilized a variety of vibrant sets featuring flowers and marching bands. The color appeal of the set brought together the message of happiness and a sense of community that lead singer Chris Martin addresses throughout his songs.
After going through Coldplay’s most popular songs, Bruno Mars delivered an energetic performance with synchronized choreography. This aspect of the halftime show received enthusiasm from the crowd and viewers at home, and increased with the addition of Beyonce to perform her hit song “Formation” featuring an all girl dance ensemble.
The music flowed well between songs, with added duets and trio singing on the final song, which was a mashup of multiple songs including “Fix You” and “Up&Up”. While some critics expressed that Martin and Coldplay seemed overwhelmed by such big talents such as Beyonce and Bruno Mars, fans who commented on the uploaded performance via Youtube claims its one of the better performances that the Super Bowl has put on.
Maroon 5 missed the mark in terms of taking ideas from popular past shows and that could do with the pressure put on by all the controversy surrounding the event. However, Maroon 5 was announced to play the halftime show back in September 2018, which gives at least a couple of months to organize the event.
It seemed apparent there was a lack of communication or a lack of rehearsal time when it came to the show, with awkward interactions between Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine, Travis Scott, and Big Boi. Levine would often dance along to the rap songs and attempt eye contact with the rappers, in which they would not look or acknowledge him on stage. This disconnect among the performers may involve the difference in performing as solo artist or a band, in which the rappers may not be used to looking at communicating with others on stage. However, the disconnect between the performers seemed to only emphasize the dysfunction of the show.
It’s worth mentioning how uncomfortable and nervous Levine looked on stage, from how shaky his voice sounded in the beginning of his performance, to his dancing and movement. This was obvious to viewers and many vocal coaches who reviewed his performance during the show on Youtube.
One thing that Maroon 5 did take from past performances is the use of popular and recognizable songs. Unfortunately, on one of their most recent hit songs “Girls Like You”, Maroon 5 used a gospel choir, which while their vocals on their own were good, it did not fit the tempo or Levine’s voice accompanying them.
The Super Bowl halftime show seemed looked as if it was set up to fail, from the ongoing controversy over performing, to the random pairing of artists, Maroon 5 had their work cut out for them and could not meet up to the standards of more popular halftime shows. Hopefully, next year’s halftime show can provide what this year’s lacked: connection.