Coming out of the first half of a very low scoring 3-0 Super Bowl match-up today between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, Adam Levine and Maroon 5 proved conclusively that they could pull off a halftime show that put Justin Timberlake to shame – at least when it came to ill-considered timing and strongly bleached blandness… and that’s a feat.
Nobody’s first choice for the once-coveted spot and fighting the backlash from those calling for a boycott in a sign of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, The Voice coach and crew made last year’s staid effort by the former N’Sync star almost positively cutting edge with their Super Bowl LIII rollout of tried and tired hits and poses.
If the limbo low charisma and stripped down Levine wanted “to move on” and “speak through the music” Maroon 5’s pyrotechnically enhanced and Chinese lanterns offering was a distinctly muted affair at its very best and solidly one of the worst Super Bowl halftime shows ever.
Despite the short adrenaline injection of local hero and OutKast alum Big Boi, Travis Scott and a gospel choir, the arduously contained NFL concert from Atlanta didn’t so much crash and burn as simply sputtered. The often unsmiling Levine’s plaintive calls to “show your love” were the least canned aspect of a show that seemed to lack any understanding of the big leagues, big pictures or the stakes.
That bad situation was made worse to view by Levine eventually stripping off to a bare chested look that made Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction of 2004 on CBS seem chaste, if you know what I mean?
Certainly, if this was the hip hop heavy or social injustice addressing performance that Levine bragged about earlier in the week, Donald Trump now has a worthy rival in the reality distortion field arena.
The show was preceded by an announcement online this morning from Selma director Ava DuVernay that she was boycotting the big game due to the league’s “racist treatment” of ex-San Francisco 49er Kaepernick and an on-field coin toss overseen by civil rights icons Rep. John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young and Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. A state of affairs and the expected slew of movie trailers and eyebrow-raising ads that truthfully left this halftime show for the second lowest scoring Super Bowl ever so far hopelessly overshadowed before it even began.
Add to that, the likes of Rihanna and Cardi B turned the gig down and the NFL was left with sloppy seconds at best — and, not to belabor the point, it showed.
In front of tens of millions of TV viewers and over 70,000 fans in the Georgia metropolis’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Pepsi sponsored mid-game show saw some bleeped out language, a Spongebob Squarepants sighting of sorts and the misused choir that is almost always a sure sign of a soulless rock band in action.
With an eye to the ratings to come, the in attendance CBS executives like acting CEO Joe Ianniello, entertainment boss Kelly Kahl and big boss Shari Redstone must have defaulted to hoping the audience at home stayed peeled to take in the non-event in action. That includes a watching crowd in the stadium itself of John Travolta, almost Oscar host Kevin Hart Woody Harrelson, Jamie Foxx, Danny DeVito, Jon Bon Jovi, a lavender suited Conor McGregor, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper.
The VIP seats were where the true star power was this Super Bowl Sunday, not onstage for a halftime show that has in the past featured deities like Prince, U2, Beyonce and the Rolling Stones — and that’s not super at all, especially when you are aiming to play in those big leagues.