Well another Super Bowl Halftime Show is in the bag with Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi having done the honors and it was quite the *snooooooore*. Adam Levine and company were never in a winning position leading up to Sunday’s show, but the 14-minute performance was so bland and uninspired that paint drying on a wall would yell, “GET OFF THE STAGE!” One of the things that confounded many fans about the National Football League’s choice of Maroon 5 is that there had to have been a more exciting or interesting choice to lead the halftime show than the guys who made “Don’t Wanna Know.” For reference, here are ten acts that would be more suited for one of the biggest stages in music today.
The opening riff of “Enter Sandman” is as synonymous with sporting events as “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2)” and the men who made the song have conquered every possible live music venue from a Russian airfield to a tiny dome in Antarctica. Having Metallica play the Super Bowl should be a no-brainer. While the thrash metal kings are leagues away from being pop stars appropriate for Pepsi ads, their epic riffs and hard-hitting drums would be a perfect fit for the macho environment of the biggest football game of the year. Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have some gray in their hair, they don’t show signs of slowing down in their live shows as Kirk Hammett still hits his solos with blistering accuracy and James Hetfield’s fist-pumping vocals get dudes head-banging regardless of age.
Setlist: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Seek and Destroy”, “Fuel”, “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman”
If there was ever a guy to call on to wave the flag for good ol’ fashioned American rock music, it’s Dave Grohl. He and the Foos are actually the safest of safe bets for the halftime show given how many stadium rock anthems they’ve churned out in the last 25 years. Rock music and football will always go hand-in-hand with each other so Foo Fighters are a great pick for their combination of classic rock hooks beloved by the elders and alternative rock guitar crunches respected by youngsters. They’ve also collected a healthy supply of pump-up songs and soaring anthems, allowing for a nice flow in their setlist. More recent cuts including “The Sky is a Neighborhood” and “Run” reiterate the band’s mastery of epic build-up and head banging breakdown while classics like “Everlong” still move audiences to this day. Plus it would make Dave Grohl smile and why would anyone not want to make Dave Grohl smile?
Setlist: “Bridge Burning”, “All My Life”, “Run”, “The Pretender”, “My Hero”, “Everlong”
Since 2011, the NFL has been looking to get hip with the kids and have more current artists headline the halftime show. Following that logic, Ariana Grande is THE most current artist in the music industry today and would be the biggest star of the moment to tackle the Super Bowl stage. Sure her bright pink and emphatically feminine aesthetic would contrast the typical halftime headliner, but that would actually be the most interesting thing to see translate in front of a football crowd. If Gaga and Beyonce could pull it off, Grande has a shot for the same reason they did: tunes and attitude. Grande has never sounded more confident on songs than she has on her most recent releases and the likes of “God is a Woman” could soar in a football stadium. The former Cat Valentine has been adding more jewels to her crown in the last three years and conquering the Super Bowl could make her untouchable.
Setlist: “Problem”, “Bang Bang”, “Into You”, “Thank U, Next”, “Breathin”, “One Last Time”
Sticking with the theme of current artists, what a challenge this would be for one Austin Post. To call Post Malone’s rise to superstardom “meteoric” would be like saying he has a “mild” amount of tattoos. But he has an audience and there’s a good chance most of them watch the Super Bowl, so putting Post on the biggest of big stages would give their Bud Light-swilling hero some true validation. On a surface level yes, this might be a case of way too much hype way too soon given Post’s laid back vibe and the fact that one of the few times a rap artist gets a headlining spot it’s given to a white dude. But Post Malone’s vibe is almost exclusive to the typical NFL crowd: beer-drinking frat dudes and party gals who revel in pop-friendly rap music. His performance would rely mostly on the spectacle of the show and less on Post’s energy. Post is, among other things, a bro. Seeing his goofy grin during bouncing around to “Better Now” and “White Iverson” might be a heartwarming (if not silly) end to a true American success story. Sorry, is that a bald eagle flying behind me?
Setlist: “Congratulations”, “Too Young”, “White Iverson”, “Rockstar”, “Sugar Wraith”, “Better Now”
Might be cheating a bit here since Big Boi just graced the stage on Sunday, but this is just too juicy to ignore. No matter how much the NFL or old white America wants to deny it, rap is the thing now. Kids want it, adults love it and record labels are selling it as fast as humanly possible. The NFL had the biggest and best opportunity for a halftime show headliner this year in Atlanta if they reunited one of the most influential and popular acts in rap history….and they still went with the bored and aging Adam Levine. Regardless, there would still be merit to having the ATLiens grace the stage. Many of Outkast’s best songs mix their cool delivery with everything from 70s funk to rave music to 60s pop, not to mention their look of intergalactic funkensteins has made them style icons. Seeing Big Boi and Andre 3000 effortlessly flow from “Player’s Ball” to “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” to “B.O.B.” to “Hey Ya” would be a sight to behold. Not only could they go full-on with the spectacle (perhaps landing in a giant spaceship as tribute to Funkadelic) but they have the chemistry and chops to back it all up.
Setlist: “Funkin’ Around”, “B.O.B.”, “So Fresh, So Clean”, “Rosa Parks”, “Player’s Ball”, “Hey Ya”
It turns out this year’s Super Bowl had its lowest television ratings in a decade and the NFL’s continuous denial of Colin Kaepernick’s free speech probably didn’t help. On top of overly punishing a man for staging a peaceful protest against racial oppression in America, the NFL also lost Rihanna. Ms. Fenty was one of many entertainers to stand with Kaepernick against the NFL and was also offered the halftime show, which she turned down last October. So the NFL lost one of the biggest and most versatile acts in pop music today, whoops. Rihanna has a healthy mix of catchy pop hits, sensual slow jams and ballsy rap crossovers, bringing in a wide range of fans live and watching from home. She’s also a style guru and a true provocateur, teasing the potential for one of the raunchiest halftime shows in Super Bowl history. But for all her style and grind, RiRi is at her core a consummate performer with a voice that could reach the skies making her fit for the grandeur of the halftime show.
Setlist: “Hard”, “Rude Boy”, “Umbrella”, “Stay”, “Where Have You Been”, “We Found Love”
Eminem is an old man now, there’s no getting around it. He’s Grandpa Simpson yelling at SoundCloud rappers and stomping his feet firmly into the olden days of hip-hop. That’s not to say that he’s lost his talent (he certainly has not) but it helps to know exactly where he is in his career at the moment. Marshall Mathers has reached a point where he’s old enough to be considered a legacy act but still putting out material looking to retain his GOAT status. If he can handle the stage of the halftime show it might do the job. Eminem certainly has the hits to fill a set list and a bountiful audience that transcends race. The question comes from the actual performance itself as the halftime show is known for the background spectacle as much as it is for the performer. The halftime show is full of fireworks and lasers and backup dancers, but Eminem is just…..Eminem. His stage presence only amounts to his rapid-fire delivery and whatever hoodie he’s wearing. He even admits to not even bopping to his own music, so it’ll be a wonder how he stands amongst the glitz of the halftime show.
Setlist: “Won’t Back Down”, “Without Me”, “Lucky You”, “Rap God”, “‘Till I Collapse”, “Lose Yourself”
Fall Out Boy
Ever since they reunited in 2013, Fall Out Boy have moved further and further away from their emo roots and almost completely shifted to stadium rock. Their choruses are bigger, their drums hit harder and Patrick Stump’s high-pitched vocals have been amplified more than ever. It’s a wonder why Stump and co. decided to make this change to their sound but they’re playing bigger venues than they ever have before so it must’ve worked. The best consolation prize the band could get would be headlining the Super Bowl and despite the easy jokes that could be made against the old Hot Topic favorites, Fall Out Boy could pull it off. The classics like “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and even “America’s Suitehearts” still have energy and punch to them while their recent pop hits like “Centuries” and “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark” have the huge production to fill a football stadium. If the NFL wants to revert back to the rock sound that football fans adore while wanting someone with a bit more energy and relevancy, Fall Out Boy deserves to be in the running.
Setlist: “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark”, “Uma Thurman”, “Dance, Dance”, “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”, “Centuries”, “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”
Not only has Sean Carter turned down performing at halftime, but he actually tried getting Travis Scott to back out in support of Colin Kaepernick. If one of the biggest rappers, hell one of the biggest musicians in the industry is saying no to the big show (even on a song), something is very very wrong. Continuing the thing of rap music being the big thing in music today, nobody exemplifies the successes of rap music better than Jay-Z. As seen on his recent world tours with Beyonce, Hov can handle a stage with excitable dancers and eclectic stage setups while still delivery some of the best songs of the millennium. Like all great artists who’ve built long-lasting careers, there is some variety to Jay’s music. The drops of dance beats in “Can I Get A…” to the throwback soul of “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” to the hard-hitting boom of “99 Problems” show how Hova has expanded his range over 23 years. Jay also has an undeniable stage presence with or without elaborate sets so he would look like he belongs in front of an audience of millions. Plus a cameo from Bey couldn’t hurt.
Setlist: “Public Service Announcement”, “On to the Next One”, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, “Can I Get A…”, “Big Pimpin'”, “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)…”
Queen and special guests
Look it’s an odd time to be a fan of Queen. Sure the band got a biopic made about them that grossed $833 million worldwide, but that biopic was directed by an accused sexual predator who seemed to have entirely misunderstood what made Queen the rock legends that they are. So let’s hit the reset button: how can Queen possibly get out of the doghouse and remind people that they made headlines for music and not mishandled movies? The Super Bowl, darling. Queen is one of the, if not THE greatest stadium rock band of all time. They have two songs that are played at every damn sporting event known to man, they were one of the first bands to really embrace stadium rock shows when they began in the 1970s and the late Freddie Mercury was so magnetic on stage he literally conducted the audience in song. Of course the rub of all this is the fact that Mercury is an irreplaceable frontman, but Queen have employed various singers to fill the spot. Perhaps they could repeat the format of the 1992 tribute concert to Mercury at Wembley Stadium and bring in guest vocalists for different songs. The likes of Lady Gaga, Brendon Urie, Florence Welch and even current frontman Adam Lambert could make fine fill-ins for the band’s beloved frontman.
Setlist: “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Tie Your Mother Down” ,”Stone Cold Crazy”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Somebody to Love”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”