Five artists who should play the Super Bowl halftime show

Five artists who should play the Super Bowl halftime show

Illustration for article titled Five artists who should play the Super Bowl halftime show
Image: Getty Images

There is probably some esteem to be gained from being labeled A) a big enough act and B) just inoffensive enough to be tapped as a Super Bowl halftime performer. As for national TV, there is no bigger stage, in part thanks to the Grammys being the butt of jokes for three decades. So this isn’t a list that I would particularly want to see, or not entirely, because chances are if you’re in the running to play the halftime show it confirms you’re not interesting at all to listen to. What follows is a list of acts that might be cool, or ones that just simply need to accept what they are and take the gig to cement it.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.

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Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

Illustration for article titled Five artists who should play the Super Bowl halftime show
Image: Getty Images

It’s hard to believe that Foo Fighters haven’t already played the halftime show. If ever there was a band specifically designed to play the Super Bowl halftime show, it’s Foo Fighters. It almost feels like if some sort of government-backed think tank or lab were to create a band for the Super Bowl, it would be Foo Fighters. The man that Dave Grohl has spent some 25 years trying to convince us he is, Bruce Springsteen, has already done it. If the NFL wanted to choose a band that would be universally applauded by its still overwhelmingly white, middle-aged press corps, you couldn’t find one more in the pocket. The only risk would be Taylor Hawkins saying something truly stupid with such a bullhorn, proving the universal truth that you never let a drummer talk. In fact, the band as a whole proves that, given where Grohl came from.

Grohl is probably under the impression that he or the band still have just enough punk/street cred to look down upon such a gig, but they lost that long ago. This is their natural end, and Grohl can’t swim against the tide any longer. If he wants to so desperately hang onto that imaginary cred, he can only play drums while St. Vincent sings Nirvana songs and Josh Homme sings Them Crooked Vultures songs during the performance, engineering the ultimate bait-and-switch on the league and their audience. That would just about make up for the general annoyance of the Foo Fighters’ presence in popular culture the past two decades.

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Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae

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Now here’s someone who does have the punk/street cred that Foo Fighters only think they do, and could justifiably and gloriously piss on the offer to play the Super Bowl. Still, the stage show Monae could engineer makes the mind boggle, she crosses just about every genre of music to please everyone, and is actually relevant to people under 40. And we could have reaction shots of league and broadcast execs and Jim Nantz when she and her dancers pull out the vagina pants, perhaps ridding us of Nantz forever after his assured simultaneous stroke, heart attack, and spontaneous combustion. This needs to happen simply for that reason. Thankfully, and sadly, Monae probably wouldn’t do this in a million years.

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Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Illustration for article titled Five artists who should play the Super Bowl halftime show
Image: Getty Images

Everything I wrote about Foo Fighters you could put here. Pearl Jam would be under the impression they’re still too cool for such a thing, but they’ve been the official soundtrack to the 40+, white, lite beer-drinking crowd for a long time now. This is who they are, which is kind of hilarious because the people who follow them around the country now are almost certainly the same ones who made fun of the first generation grunge crowd for listening to Ten thirty years ago. Would have writers and broadcasters clapping like seals at the announcement, though the band would struggle to come up with one song they’ve written in the past 20 years that anyone knows. Whatever, that didn’t stop the Stones, did it? You can’t run from who you are anymore, Eddie Vedder.

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Lizzo

Lizzo

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Lizzo is the one artist who might span both poles of this debate. It feels like she should do this because of how big her following has become and how wide it spans, and it also would be cool to see what she’d do with the platform. And hey, she already has a relationship with the NFL, right? Lizzo’s fanbase spans just about every category, so while this would seem edgy to the suits, it would make about as much sense as anyone. Also, there’s every chance in the world that Lizzo would bring Missy Elliot along for another Super Bowl appearance, and if there’s anything this world needs it’s more Missy Elliot.

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Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic

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I’m hardly the first to suggest this. This has been a campaign forever, and no one should rest until it becomes reality. Honestly, Weird Al is in some ways too cool to stoop to this, but the mind reels at what he might come up with with this kind of budget on a stage show. A lot of years, the Super Bowl halftime show is a lifetime achievement award anyway, and Weird Al has been cracking us all up for nearly 40 years. It would be a change of pace, he could bounce between contemporary hits and his classics, there’s always the threat he might use it to lampoon the whole event which it desperately needs, and everyone would love it. We all know this needs to happen.

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We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.