The NFL has insisted the season will go ahead as planned, despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. There will be issues to iron out for the league, such as details about games, namely whether fans are present. However, one thing that stands out is who the NFL should pick to perform at halftime of Super Bowl 55.
Since the 2010s, the NFL has selected artists such as Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to headline the event. All of them are typically associated with pop music, more contemporary pop acts with wide, mass appeal have been the norm in recent years. This perception of pop is the most popular music that is reinforced by the past couple of acts to play at the event, as Justin Timberlake headlined in 2018, Gaga the year before and most recently the tandem of Lopez and Shakira in Miami this year.
This is a striking change from the 2000s when more legacy rock acts headlined the halftime show. This list includes Beatles legend and bass guitarist Paul McCartney, U2, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Prince and Bruce Springsteen. However, since then the last rock band to headline the extravaganza was The Who in 2010, aside from an appearance by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers alongside Mars. Overall, fans have been limited to a more fan-friendly selection of artists. With that said, the NFL should break the trend and give rock fans something to tune into.
Roger Goodell and company must look no further than the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl’s rock band has long been overlooked as pop artists have typically been favored in recent years. With the band’s massive popularity and stadium-friendly songs, it would seem they’d be a natural fit for them to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show. Grohl himself admitted the band has had discussions with the NFL, but have never actually been offered the gig.
“I’ve had multiple conversations over the years with them where they say, ‘We want to have a rock ‘n’ roll band. Do you think you could do it? Do you think you could do a stadium?'” Grohl recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah man, we do it all the time.’ We’re like, ‘Oh my God, I think we’re gonna do the Super Bowl!’ And then it’ll be, like, Madonna or Katy Perry or somebody like that.” Grohl said alongside drummer Taylor Hawkins on Los Angeles’ KROQ.
The Foo Fighters have won 26 awards during their existence thus far, producing hits such as “The Pretender”, “Walk”, “Learn to Fly” and “Best of You”, the latter was highly acclaimed when Prince performed the hit song at Super Bowl 41. Music critics were extremely enthusiastic about his performance, one critic called it “arguably the best halftime show in Super Bowl history. In addition, the Foo Fighters are the most successful (active) band to have never performed at the event. Grohl and co are certainly capable of putting on a show as this writer can attest to.
Imagine 60,000+ singing “The Pretender” or “Learn to Fly” in unison. Thrilling to think about! This is just a glimpse of what the Foos can do.
While it is easy for the NFL to opt for friendly pop music or another with mass appeal, it’s hard not to long for the days when some of the biggest rock acts of all time in McCartney and Prince were breaking hearts and stealing the show, at the biggest sporting extravaganza on Earth. One of the most obvious picks to return to the era of rock acts would be the Foos, who are unquestionably one of the biggest rock acts in the world and one that routinely sells out huge arenas in minutes. It is quite shocking that Grohl and co haven’t yet been given a concrete offer to perform at the Super Bowl.
Interestingly, the Foo Fighters performed in Atlanta on the Saturday prior to Super Bowl 53 alongside numerous guests including Roger Taylor, legendary drummer from the band Queen. Melissa Ruggieri of AJC called the show: “an energizing, thrilling night, with the Foos unleashing a predictably sweat-soaked explosion of sound”. While on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Maroon 5 underwhelmed and faced heavy criticism from multiple newspaper outlets. Most notably Jake Nevins of The Guardian, who wrote at the time: “Adam Levine’s torso can’t save tedious affair. It is safe to say the NFL would have been better offering Grohl and the boys the gig.”
Grohl and Hawkins have said the band wants to play the Super Bowl halftime show, but the question is will the NFL let them?