“It’s a Super Bowl tradition to speculate about the performers for the Pepsi Halftime Show,” a league spokesman told Deadline. “We are continuing to work with Pepsi on our plans but do not have any announcements to make on what will be another epic show.”
That’s the NFL’s usual company line when reports about the halftime act start to surface each year. The league ultimately makes the call about who will perform, but that said, music industry sources tell Deadline that talks with Maroon5 for Super Bowl LIII have happened and that “it’s trending in that direction.” We hear that a deal appears to be done but that the league wants to make the official announcement.
Final confirmation of a Super Bowl performer generally doesn’t come until later in the NFL season, which is entering Week 3. Last year, Justin Timberlake wasn’t announced until late October, and in other recent years the confirmation wasn’t made until late November or early December. Lady Gaga, however, was announced as last season’s halftime performer on September 22.
Maroon5 frontman Levine is a star of The Voice, the hit reality singing competition that airs on CBS rival NBC. But a network source tells Deadline that doesn’t matter anymore in today’s broadcast climate.
For a league that’s eager to avoid any more controversy in a media landscape dominated by polarizing politics and the #MeToo movement, the LA-based group would be a good, safe choice to play the Super Bowl halftime show. Maroon5 never has been a political band, nor has Levine or his mates been tied to any big scandals. The group currently has the No. 2 single in the U.S. with “Girls Like You” featuring Cardi B. It is on its Red Pill Blues Tour of the U.S. through mid-October before playing two year-end shows in Las Vegas and heading to Australia, Asia and Europe starting in mid-February.
And CBS — will air Super Bowl LIII on February 3 from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta — has seen its share of controversy tied to haltime shows it has broadcast. It aired the infamous Timberlake-Janet Jackson “Wardrobe Malfunction” in 2004 and took some flak three years later when Prince was shown with a large-scale projection of his guitar that struck some viewers as unavoidably phallic.
Dade Hayes and Lisa de Moraes contributed to this report.