Why Did It Take So Long For Maroon 5’s Super Bowl Halftime Announcement?
The band and the NFL waited almost three months longer than standard to verify the gig.
The Super Bowl halftime present has historically been of probably the most coveted gigs in music, with hypothesis about which megastar will mild up the sport reaching Oscar-worthy ranges within the run-up to the late-fall announcement.
So why did the NFL and Maroon 5 wait almost three months to verify that the California pop group can be taking the stage in Atlanta on Feb. three at Super Bowl LIII with Travis Scott and Huge Boi? Billboard reported in September that M5 would headline the set, which comes mid-way by way of what’s yearly the most-watched block of TV actual property. However neither the band nor the NFL would touch upon the document on the time. Or for a number of months afterward.
The first official affirmation from the notoriously controlling league and the radio-friendly band got here on Sunday (Jan. 13), lower than a month earlier than the large recreation. The phrase lastly got here after months of stories that everybody from Rihanna to Cardi B, Adele, JAY-Z and P!nk had handed on the unpaid efficiency for numerous causes, from scheduling conflicts to a reluctance to bop, and, most significantly, as a present of solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a outstanding activist now greatest recognized for taking a knee in the course of the Nationwide Anthem in 2016 in protest of racial inequality within the U.S. That transfer, in fact, led to Kaepernick’s exile from the league and a raft of comparable protests from fellow gamers.
In distinction, the 2 earlier halftime performers, Woman Gaga in 2017 and Justin Timberlake in 2018, have been introduced on, respectively, Sept. 29, 2016 and Oct. 22, 2017.
Within the interim, a change.org petition urging M5 to drop out of the present has garnered greater than 85,000 signatures, absorbing a number of the media protection that might usually have been reserved for the headliner hyping what is unquestionably a bucket listing alternative for the veteran group with a squeaky clear picture.
“This is a tricky year for it [playing the halftime show] and I’m not sure what the right answer is,” says a veteran music business supply accustomed to the mechanics of Super Bowl halftime performances; the supply spoke to Billboard two days earlier than the official announcement. “The announcements are always dictated by the NFL, but it’s way different this year because it’s in Atlanta — the de facto home of hip-hop — and there are issues there because of stories about how they reached out to hip-hop acts and they didn’t want to perform.”
Add to that the poor optics of two black hip-hop artists — Scott and Huge Boi (born Antwan Patton) — performing in majority African-American metro Atlanta following the NFL’s roll-out of a controversial new Anthem coverage earlier than the 2018-19 season, which many noticed as an try and silence any on-field protests. These advised guidelines, extensively panned however presently on maintain and but to be enforced, would drive gamers to both stand (and face a workforce high-quality for any show deemed disrespectful) or keep within the locker room. Collectively they create what the supply deems a “very difficult” state of affairs for Levine and the band members, all however one in every of whom are white.
“I don’t know what else they can do. If they’d known what the reaction would be maybe they would have thought twice about it, but it’s one of those feather-in-your-cap, check it off the list things. Who wouldn’t want that?” says the supply. “It’s an unfortunate combination of the year and the city.”
Earlier than Sunday’s announcement, Jeff Rabhan, former artist supervisor (Jermaine Dupri) and present chair of the Clive Davis Division of Recorded Music at New York College’s Tisch Faculty of the Arts, stated he suspected that the league determined to carry off on making a proper assertion so long as potential to keep away from additional controversy and hold the concentrate on the playoffs for now. “They chose an old-school way of dealing with it: just don’t talk about it and maybe it will go away,” he stated. “Which doesn’t work.”
Whereas Maroon 5 launched a one-minute video on Sunday (Jan. 13) hyping the efficiency, they haven’t but made any public statements or appearances selling it. That’s in distinction to Scott, who informed Billboard on Sunday — simply earlier than the NFL’s launch — that he wouldn’t settle for the invitation till the league agreed to hitch him in donating $500,000 to a social justice trigger. Spokespeople for the NFL and headline halftime sponsor Pepsi had not responded to Billboard’s request for remark at press time.
A supply with first-hand information of the discussions, nevertheless, described the lengthy wait to announce the band’s efficiency as “frustrating” for all of the artists, particularly since most of them have been confirmed for weeks, and even months. All three acts have ties to Irving Azoff’s Full Cease Administration, although neither rapper has ever appeared on a Maroon 5 album; Levine is featured on “Mic Jack” from Huge Boi’s 2017 Boomiverse solo album. Cardi B, featured on their present smash, “Girls Like You,” pointedly won’t be showing with the band, however moderately enjoying an ancillary present sponsored by Bud Mild on the night time earlier than the sport alongside Bruno Mars.
What explains the eerie silence from the sometimes amiable, press-friendly M5 entrance man Adam Levine? “It’s probably coming from Maroon 5’s people, who didn’t want to allow the message to get out so they had weeks and weeks of hate mail and torture,” says a long-time publicist (unaffiliated with the band) who predicts the furor will probably proceed, however not essentially persist with the Grammy-winning band with greater than 20+ million in profession album gross sales. “It’s moronic on the one hand that they’re even doing it — it’s not the biggest gig of your career when more than 50 percent of the world hates you for making the choice. I think it hurts their brand and it’s a total mistake on their part. But in the scheme of things in terms of America right now, people will probably forget it as soon as it’s over.”
What would the publicist have accomplished in the event that they’d been in an early assembly concerning the present? “I would say as a publicist we recommend you don’t do this,” the publicist says, including that they might doubtless have pursued the identical tactic that the band and their reps have: months of radio silence. “It doesn’t matter how huge a stage it is, there’s a bigger upside to say you passed [on it]. If it’s a done deal, though, I would say: Don’t call attention to the fact that you’re doing it, because there’s no upside to that. Just let the gig happen, let those who know know and treat it like a regular TV booking, which you might not really publicize that much.”
Levine appeared on Ellen in November, almost a month after the information first emerged, and the singer performed coy with DeGeneres throughout an look that ought to have been his first promotional push for the standard halftime media blitz. “It’s a great event, and there’s going to be a band performing or an artist of some kind performing halftime… and it’s going to be great regardless of who it is,” Levine stated cryptically. “Whoever is lucky enough to get that gig is probably going to crush it.”
Whereas everybody from comic Amy Schumer to the NAACP and Rev. Al Sharpton have spoken out concerning the reserving over the previous 4 months, Maroon 5’s staff seems to have taken the street recommended by the publicist: near-total silence. (A spokesperson for the band declined to touch upon the document.)
Gaga’s look was introduced comparatively early, adopted lower than two weeks later with the “Shallow” singer telling Carson Daly that she needed to “Push the Envelope” and was launching a “Guest of Honor” contest with sponsor Pepsi that December. “I’m absolutely honored to be doing the Pepsi halftime show. We’ve already been thinking of all the different ways we can make this a special experience for all the NFL fans,” Gaga stated on the time. By this time in January 2017, Gaga was taking followers behind the scenes for the set she stated, “I’ve been planning since I was 4.”
Even with the drama surrounding Timberlake’s return to the Super Bowl following 2004’s infamous “Nipple-gate” efficiency with Janet Jackson, and hot-take controversy over whether or not he would invite Jackson again as an indication of excellent religion, didn’t absolutely overtake the NFL’s typical “nothing to see here” narrative. Timberlake hit the late night time exhibits to advertise his halftime, joking with Stephen Colbert in late November and dropping the primary in a collection of BTS movies in mid-January.
Vic Oyedeji, who started the Maroon petition drive and was additionally behind the #NoKaepernickNoNFL petition urging individuals to boycott the NFL till Kaepernick was signed by one other group — which racked up greater than 208,000 signatures — tells Billboard he began the Maroon drive as a result of he is aware of the halftime present is the spotlight of the Super Bowl, recurrently besting the precise recreation in scores. “When Rihanna turned it down and Amy Schumer and JAY-Z spoke out I knew I had to create a petition to see what folks had to say about it,” he says. Oyedeji says he’s very happy with the impact and the dialog he’s sparked, even after the information that the present will go on as deliberate.
“I have mixed emotions about it and I’m kind of disappointed that they decided to perform,” he says. “But I’m glad that that stage has now been tainted, and anyone who performs on it starting this year is — in effect — aligning with the NFL. And that’s why these artists backed down, and now it will be harder to find artists to perform. I’m very proud of that.”
“They [the NFL] got spooked by the petition and they did what they always do: they thought, ‘If [the Maroon 5 booking is] a total win for us, we don’t need the controversy,’” says Rabhan. The former main label A&R exec, who has attended a number of Super Bowls — together with 2003’s, the place former shopper Michelle Department performed a pre-game set alongside Santana and Beyoncé — says he spoke to a really outstanding member of Atlanta’s hip-hop group earlier than the announcement who stated the NFL “didn’t even try” to make a honest effort to succeed in out to the town’s giant African-American music group to land a headliner who higher represents the town’s wealthy R&B and rap historical past.
He additionally notes that he didn’t absolutely agree with the purpose of Oyedeji’s petition. “It wasn’t asking for anything except to put pressure on them [Maroon 5],” he says. “Do they not want anyone to play? Is it boycotting Maroon 5? Because they haven’t done anything wrong here, they’re just a band in the business of performing for people. As a manager, that’s a difficult situation, because in general I believe in communicating.” When the petition first got here out with its plea to Maroon 5 to take a chance to “stand on the right side of history” and select the gamers over the league, Rabhan says the group had a chance to say “we support this and it’s important to us… we’re big football fans and we stand behind Colin, we support everyone’s opportunity for freedom of speech, we support the players and we’re not choosing a side.’”
What would he have endorsed if he was their supervisor? In Rabhan’s ebook, getting out in entrance of an issue is greatest coverage, quite than avoidance, which he believes solely stokes the fires. None of it surprises him, although, as Rabhan mentions that he’s labored with the NFL Gamers Affiliation up to now at Tisch and has gotten a first-hand style of the “iron fist” the league’s house owners rule with. “By not accepting it or caving to the pressure you don’t forward the movement at all and you’re not changing minds,” he says. “But to say nothing, or not take a stand, that’s the [traditional] playbook and that’s where the NFL has gotten hurt over the years.”
The longtime producer of the halftime present, Ricky Kirshner, and the longtime director, Hamish Hamilton, in addition to greater than half a dozen outstanding publicists who’ve labored with previous halftime performers declined to talk on the document with Billboard concerning the obtrusive delay within the Maroon 5 announcement.
In mild of the weekend affirmation, Rabhan despatched Billboard an up to date perspective on Monday (Jan. 14): “I’m glad the NFL finally realized that bringing Pepsi into Coca-Cola’s hometown was dangerous enough,” he says of the No. 2 cola model getting into Coke’s company yard, and the sensible determination so as to add ATLien Massive Boi to the roster. “But not having someone from ATL’s rich musical history share the stage with Maroon 5 would force every self-respecting southerner to take a knee as well.” Moreover, numerous different outstanding ATL acts might be enjoying Super Bowl adjoining events through the week, together with Migos, Lil Jon, Ludacris, Lil Yachty, Lil Child and Future.
Talking of taking a knee, Oyedeji tells Billboard he’s provide you with the right reply for a way M5 and their collaborators can rise above the noise, a suggestion he added to his petition web page on Monday. “I have nothing against the band, this isn’t about them and they just got caught in the crossfire,” he says. “I’m saying the only way for them to preserve their reputation is to take a knee during their set to show the hundreds of millions of people watching their solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the players who are protesting police brutality.”
What else might assist tamp down the stigma? “A great performance with Travis [and Big Boi],” says the veteran supply conversant in the machinations of halftime exhibits, who doesn’t anticipate M5 to make any assertion in the course of the present. “People are gonna hate online either way.”
COURTESY OF billboard.com
106.9 The Q
January 15th, 2019