Madonna will perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLVI, and her show is sure to be as nostalgic as a cassette tape and as exciting as a rice cake. Sure, millions of middle-aged ladies will reminisce about the first time they danced to “Lucky Star”, but the NFL can do better. They just don’t want to.
Since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction while performing with Justin Timberlake at the intermission of Super Bowl XXXVIII, the halftime entertainment during the most-watched game of the season has been innocuous at best and Jurassic at worst. When the harmlessly hip Black Eyed Peas took the stage last year, it was a leap forward.
The league wants to avoid controversy as billions of people watch worldwide. As much as you might want a Kanye West halftime show, the league will not run the risk of putting a live microphone in his hands. Thus, the NFL selects a familiar, sanitized musical guest to appease the masses and the sponsors alike. This is how we ended up with the Rolling Stones a few years back.
The NFL has better options for the halftime show: safe and popular options that are culturally relevant now, not decades ago. Here are five Super Bowl-caliber musical acts that would have been better choices than Madonna.
The following choices fit the bill for Super Bowl XLVI in that they have enormous followings without a hint of scandal, but for reasons I will outline, they do not make the cut.
Adele’s sultry voice monopolizes radio stations across the country, and she is the rare artist adored by fans and critics alike. Unfortunately, her songs are simply too sad for the Super Bowl.
“Rolling in the Deep” would move the stoic Bill Belichick to tears. If Adele sang “Someone Like You” at halftime, Rob Gronkowski might not leave the locker room not because of a sprained ankle, but because of a heavy heart.
Rucker is a crossover star, making his mark in the worlds of pop and country music. While he could lead the audience in a chorus of “Hold My Hand”, people would be too busy asking “Hey! Is that Hootie?” to take notice.
Wilco has a dedicated following, but mostly people just say they listen to them so they sound smart at dinner parties.
If they played the Super Bowl, people would finally be able to say they are familiar with the band without completely lying. Still, Wilco’s songs just are not popular enough for that much exposure.
Hear me out on this one.
You might be looking for a manlier halftime show, but you are getting Madonna this year, so clearly the NFL is not playing to its fanbase. Bieber is at least relevant now and will charm the youth demographic, a prized group in the marketing world.
Although he is young, Bieber is a seasoned performer and the bright lights and big crowd will not overwhelm him. He was made for this moment.
There is, however, one danger in Justin Bieber performing at the Super Bowl: the collected high-pitched screams of teenage girls across the planet may cause the earth to shake.
Foo Fighters have been an alternative-rock mainstay since the mid-1990s, and after the release of their Grammy-nominated album "Wasting Light", the band shows no signs of slowing down.
Dave Grohl and his mates make a great fit for Super Bowl XLVI because their aggressive tunes like “Rope” and “Monkey Wrench” would appeal to the male audience, while their mellower hits like “Everlong” and “Big Me” would strike a chord with female viewers.
Besides, the NFL has used “Pretender” so often they might as well make the Foo Fighters the league house band.
Bruno Mars is a force sweeping multiple genres of music. He belts out R&B tracks like “Just the Way You Are”, keeps it relaxed and catchy in “The Lazy Song” and sings the chorus in several popular rap songs. Mars is an artist with a wide enough range to bring the house down at the Super Bowl.
Mars is established enough that none of his songs will be a mystery to casual and die-hard fans, and new enough to give the game an edge. He is an old-school entertainer who can sing, dance and play instruments. The audience would be in for one heckuva show.
Plus, imagine the hilarious media photos of the diminutive Mars standing next to monsters like Vince Wilfork and Jason Pierre-Paul. It would be great to see Bruno Mars wearing one of their jerseys, if only to see it swallow him.
The Black Keys offer everything the NFL is looking for in a halftime act. Musical chops? Check. Popularity? Check. Inoffensive lyrical content? Check.
The beauty of a Black Keys' Super Bowl performance is that while many listen to the band, everyone has heard them. The Ohio duo’s sizzling bluesy jams have been featured in movies, commercials and television shows.
Their music is as ubiquitous across the country as Peyton Manning jerseys in Indianapolis. Imagine all of Lucas Oil Stadium exclaiming in unison, “I didn’t know this was a Black Keys song!”
I am a little surprised Maroon 5 was not named the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl XLVI because the band would be great for the NFL and NBC as well.
After all, the network will premiere this season’s first episode of The Voice, where M5 front man Adam Levine serves as a judge, that follows the game.
Convenience for NBC aside, Maroon 5 would be an incredible choice to play at the halftime of the Super Bowl.
Their energetic songs and sassy live shows have been crowd-pleasers for the better part of a decade. They have an extensive catalogue, from early hits like “Harder to Breathe” to recent radio fodder including “Misery.” They could even bring on Christina Aguilera (another Voice judge) for a live rendition of “Moves Like Jagger.”
Be honest: for a band with a largely female fanbase, Maroon 5 is pretty solid. Their songs are edgy enough that you could hum along or tap your foot at a Super Bowl party, and no one would try to revoke your Man Card for it.
With Maroon 5, everyone wins: Men, women, old people, young people, the NFL, NBC and the sponsors. The band would provide the perfect soundtrack to party where everyone is invited and no one feels out of place, and that is exactly what the NFL wants the Super Bowl to be.