Tue. Aug 20th, 2019

Revisiting the Halftime Show…Yes, We Have To

With the big game long over, armchair quarterbacks across the country have done their duty analyzing the game from head to toe, even down to how two field goals were missed inside a weather-free environment. The aftermath left many football fans exclaiming just what a boring contest it was. Just like a pitcher’s duel, this impressive display of defense from both teams lead to what was the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history. What hasn’t received the amount of talk that the game has, and rightly so of course, was the halftime show.

Ever since the Janet Jackson nip slip back in 2004, the NFL has decided to play it safe with their musical choices (not that Janet Jackson was considered risky before then). We’ve seen performances from Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake (this time solo). I remember a few months back when I first became aware of Maroon 5 being the main act of the Super Bowl LIII halftime show. This placement seemed to be on par with the league’s decision of who to put on stage.

After a snoozefest of a first half in the Patriots/Rams matchup, the lights in the stadium went out and the music started. Now before I go any further, let me just say there are a number of singles I’ve enjoyed from Maroon 5 and I even saw them in concert following the release of the ‘Songs About Jane’ album. The concert, held at the CSU Convocation Center in downtown Cleveland, was good, despite being surrounded by an overwhelming number of teenie boppers. Since then, their audience has become much more diverse in age, but even a wide-ranging audience could not save Adam Levine and the band’s performance last night.

For starters, his vocals were honest and live, something more than I can say for a lot of artists. Still, those vocals did not sound up to the task of commanding that stadium. I just can’t bring myself to use the phrase “powerful voice” and Adam Levine’s name in the same sentence.  Still, I gave the gig a chance.  Maroon 5 was soon joined by rapper Travis Scott, whose presence brought a curious aspect to the whole musical display.

If the league wanted to play it safe, why bring in Scott who had to be edited for several seconds because of profane lyrics? They knew what they were getting in Scott and yet he was brought in anyway.  Following his outing, Outkast member Big Boi then made an appearance to which Levine joined, but what was potentially the brightest spot (not saying a lot) of the halftime act also felt like the briefest.

In the end, I reflected on past halftime shows and pondered how the Paul McCartney performance was lacking for that type of stage, but Maroon 5 certainly shot down that argument. It was a music delivery that never picked up steam, never delivered any energy, and thus, lost the crowd. When I saw the gospel choir enter the scene, my hopes raised slightly, thinking there would be some emphasis injected into a failing performance.  Those hopes were quickly shattered, only to have the choir’s lead start screaming off-key into the mic.

To put it plainly, the whole spectacle was uncomfortable to watch. Come on, NFL. You can do far better than this.  Give us Metallica! Give us Imagine Dragons!  You struck gold with Gaga.  You knocked it out of the park with Beyonce and Bruno Mars.  Whatever you do, give us that high octane performance that the single most important game of the year deserves.

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