The pop group heads to the Super Bowl within the midst of an NFL controversy they received’t handle. But what’s the best-case situation on this sticky state of affairs, anyway?
If you hadn’t seen, the run-up to Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime present efficiency on Sunday (Feb. three) has been… distinctive, to say the least.
After taking almost 4 months (!) to formally affirm the group’s long-expected involvement within the halftime present, the NFL didn’t even deign to offer the headliners their very own press launch, as an alternative bundling Maroon 5 with visitor stars Travis Scott and Big Boi in an announcement earlier this month. In interviews each earlier than and after the affirmation, frontman Adam Levine has mainly dodged questions in regards to the Super Bowl, and this week, the band canceled their pre-Super Bowl press convention -- a convention for halftime performers to obtain softball questions on taking part in the massive recreation -- as a way to “let their present do the speaking.” (On Thursday night time, Levine gave an unique pre-performance interview to Entertainment Tonight on Thursday, through which he declared, “I'm not in the precise career if I can't deal with a little bit little bit of controversy. It's what it's. We anticipated it. We'd like to maneuver on from it and converse by the music.")
In the meantime, Maroon 5 and their label, Interscope Records, donated $500,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters America. Presumably, the scrapped press convention and the charitable contribution resulted from the identical challenge: the controversy stemming from the authorized battle between the NFL and quarterback/activist Colin Kaepernick, who knelt in the course of the nationwide anthem to protest police brutality in America. The league’s therapy of Kaepernick and his message -- he was left unsigned following the 2016 season, main many to accuse the league of blackballing the previous star QB -- has prompted some artists, together with Rihanna and Cardi B, to bow out of the halftime present; others, like Jay-Z, have denounced the Super Bowl platform; and Scott wouldn’t even decide to the efficiency until the NFL donated a large quantity to a social justice group.
That leaves Maroon 5 in a state of affairs for Sunday night time the place they may probably play their newest smash, the Cardi-assisted “Girls Like You,” with out their star collaborator in tow. The pop-rock group, which has spent its total profession remaining successfully inoffensive and crowd-pleasing sufficient to command pop radio, has now develop into the unlikely eye of this storm. The yearly dose of Twitter snark towards any given Super Bowl halftime act would probably have been there for the band regardless, in fact, nevertheless it’s now spiked with an argument that has been addressed and legitimized by most of the band’s fellow A-listers.
For any artist, this second ought to be a coronation: Headlining the Super Bowl halftime stays probably the most sought-after (and most-watched) efficiency in fashionable music, and is reserved just for superstars with the best mainstream sway. In this sense, Maroon 5 is virtually tailored for the Super Bowl: they’ve acquired 15 years’ value of hit singles, a run that goes as much as final 12 months’s Hot 100-topping “Girls Like You.” They’ve acquired a chameleonic capability to vary their sound alongside evolving music developments with out overreaching, and so they boast a frontman who’s immediately recognizable, wildly good-looking and a TV professional because of a long-running actuality present.
They’re not “cool,” however this isn't Coachella; it is a community tv occasion, designed to be protected and mildly thrilling for kids and parents alike. The vital factor for the NFL’s sake is that Maroon 5 might rifle by a dozen completely different songs throughout their allotted time on Sunday night time, and tens of millions of viewers of all ages would fortunately (or unhappily) have the ability to hum together with each considered one of them whereas loading up on extra buffalo hen dip.
In one other 12 months, beneath completely different circumstances, Maroon 5 could be such an agreeable halftime alternative that the week main as much as the massive recreation could be downright uninteresting, to not point out by the e-book. But now, acting at halftime has develop into such a thorny challenge that, in gentle of the press convention cancellation, the band seems to easily be protecting its head down as a way to get by this expertise unscathed, whereas additionally making a charitable donation that ought to be recommended (and can probably serve to deflect some criticism). It’s an admittedly awkward method… however what else is Maroon 5 speculated to do?
The band might all the time handle the elephant within the room forward of the halftime present, and talk about their resolution to just accept the Super Bowl amidst the Kaepernick controversy. But the reality is, Maroon 5 waxing poetic about Colin Kaepernick, race relations and police brutality in America is a no-win state of affairs. There is totally nothing the group might say to clarify their participation on this 12 months’s halftime that may fulfill all onlookers, or perhaps a majority of them.
Such is the bind of acting on the largest stage on the planet. The Super Bowl halftime present is a spot for mass attraction, not nuance, and little productive would come of Maroon 5 making an attempt to unpack such a fancy challenge inside such a charged social ambiance -- notably whereas their still-scheduled efficiency stays on the middle of it. Maybe a band extra overtly political could be daring sufficient to sort out such a weighty matter… however Maroon 5 has by no means been that band, and so they’re not going to develop into one now.
Similarly, the group making some form of grand assertion in the course of the precise halftime present -- like taking a knee mid-song -- would nearly definitely come off as superficial, and would positively be interpreted in methods the band by no means meant, to not point out memed into oblivion. Pro-Kaepernick soccer followers could be gleeful as league officers watched on in horror, however given the band’s historical past, this isn't the crew to drag off one thing this brazen with out additionally seeming clumsy within the course of. It’s too late for Maroon 5 to drag out of the halftime present, and since time-travel doesn’t exist, it’s unimaginable for them to have by no means accepted the gig within the first place. That’s in the end what the Twitterverse appears to need from them, although -- to have declined the invite, and to let one other, probably extra overtly conservative artist take middle stage.
But for higher or worse, that is the selection that Maroon 5 has made. No matter what songs they play or how nicely they carry out, the band’s Super Bowl halftime present will without end carry a selected context for a sure inhabitants. Any future political gesture, or try and re-brand as “woke,” shall be met with not less than some eye-rolls, and accusations of being the headliner that crossed the halftime picket line when others wouldn't. For some, the largest efficiency of Maroon 5’s profession will all the time carry an asterisk.
And for Maroon 5, that’s not a horrible destiny. They’ve endured years of social media swipes -- once more, they don't seem to be cool, nor have they ever been! -- on their approach to being some of the commercially profitable artists of the century. They don’t must re-brand to proceed producing radio smashes, and the vast majority of their fan base received’t be impacted in the event that they ship a statement-free set on Sunday night time. Whatever snark or scorn is coming Maroon 5’s means from a resoundingly apolitical Super Bowl set is a downpour the band can deal with, and we'll all transfer on, more likely to give attention to whoever accepts subsequent 12 months’s Super Bowl gig.
Maroon 5’s greatest path ahead appears to be precisely the trail they’ve chosen, then, of gritting their tooth by any backlash and treating the halftime present as enterprise as regular. In the top, Maroon 5 appears keenly conscious that what we would like is just too late for them to offer.