When asked to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show, Barbadian mononym Rihanna reportedly said no. The NFL then proceeded to hire the only possible equivalent to the fierce rhythms, charisma, authenticity, and platinum pipes of Riri: Maroon 5.
That’s right, the undisputed kings of music to buy khakis to, Maroon 5, will take the stage at Mercedes-Benz Arena this Super Bowl Sunday to perform indispensable hits such as “Need That Girl Body,” “Sexy Masquerade,” and “Love in the Time of Horniness (Theme from Jumanji).”
The band, which hails from the precise epicenter of the Middle of the Road, will be joined by street cred-lending rapper Travis Scott, who seemed conflicted about performing for the league that spurned Colin Kaepernick but decided to do it anyway. And then Big Boi also decided to lend a hand. Perhaps Mick Jagger will join in to strut the stage during “Moves Like Jagger”. Who knows? When Maroon 5 is involved, anything can happen! The band has gone from being so uncool they’re actually secretly cool back to being more uncool than ever so many times, I got whiplash. And then I heard the totality of Songs About Jane playing in the neck doctor’s waiting room.
In any case, this year’s Super Bowl halftime show is destined to be eminently forgettable. There’s no way it will be the worst one ever–not when the trio of Aykroyd, Goodman, and Belushi hit the field in 1997 to promote Blues Brothers 2000 and kill music forever–but it is poised to set the bar high for soul-crushing blandness and trend-surfing chameleonry. Needless to say, I’ll be skipping it. For those attending high-density Super Bowl parties, you will unfortunately be trapped in the silky talons of Adam Levine for approximately twelve and a half minutes on Sunday night. For anybody who holds dominion over what goes on the TV in their home, though, you are free to watch anything else in the world. Unlike the game of football, nothing is out of bounds!
You could, for instance, watch any random twelve and a half minutes of Mandy, the extremely trippy and disturbing throwback horror flick whose tone both matches and surpasses an all-time great unhinged Nic Cage performance.
You could watch the Showstopper Challenge of any Mary Berry-era episode of The Great British Bake Off, conveniently streaming on Netflix under the (stupidly) Americanized title, The Great British Baking Show.
However, if you don’t want to watch Maroon 5 but are still craving some Super Bowl halftime show flavor, here are five of the greatest such performances ever.
Diana Ross at Super Bowl XXX in 1996
One of our most legendary divas runs through some of the biggest hits from both her solo career and her Supremes catalogue, including “Baby Love,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” all before flying away perched on a helicopter.
Beyoncé featuring Coldplay and Bruno Mars at Super Bowl 50 in 2016
Technically, this was Coldplay’s Super Bowl halftime show. Beyoncé was just passing through, having had one all to herself three years earlier. However, Beyoncé dominated not only the halftime show and the Super Bowl itself, but the entire weekend as well, by debuting the song, “Formation,” then dropping a politically charged video for it and then showing up on Game Day with backup dancers dressed like the Black Panther party. Truly, an unforgettable moment.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Super Bowl XLIII in 2008
Tom Petty is simply an American treasure. His catalog is just dripping with hits that have been fully absorbed in the public consciousness for decades, and feel worn in like a favorite pair of jeans. His Super Bowl show may not have packed much flash but it delivered the goods.
Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, and Lenny Kravitz at Super Bowl XLIX in 2015
One of the most surprisingly crowd-pleasing halftime shows in recent memory, Katy Perry performed her hits and mostly ceded the stage to her guest, Missy Elliott, who had been missing from national attention for too long. Lenny Kravitz was on hand, too, to get the many dads in the crowd toe-tapping. Also: Left Shark.
Prince at Super Bowl XLI in 2007
I mean, come on. It’s Prince! Nobody gives more. Nobody has as many hits but still chooses to do thematically appropriate covers such as “We Will Rock You.” And nobody else could survive Guitar Penisgate completely unscathed. (Although it helped that we didn’t have Twitter yet.)