The halftime show is a big spectacle in itself; a relatively short, big-budget concert by music’s top-tier artists. Last year saw Justin Timberlake perform, while Lady Gaga took to the stage in 2017, Coldplay in 2016, Katy Perry in 2015, Bruno Mars in 2014 and Beyonce in 2013. This year it’s Maroon 5, with Travis Scott and Big Boi – and they’ll be entertaining hundreds of millions of viewers tonight.
The band’s appearance has been shrouded in controversy.
Cardi B and Rihanna are among the acts believed to have turned down this year’s coveted slot before it went to Adam Levine’s band.
Most of the backlash stems back to the furore around former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick, who famously knelt during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against African-Americans in 2016.
President Trump was among those who slated him, and the issue proved massively polarising. Kaepernick is not currently playing for the NFL.
Last year the NFL introduced a new policy threatening to fine players who protested on the field – saying if they took issue with the anthem, they should remain in the locker room for it. This policy was later relaxed.
Ill-feeling against the NFL has been bubbling ever since, and is reportedly why Rihanna turned down the gig.
More than 100,000 signed a petition asking for Maroon 5 to do the same, while Amy Schumer wrote on Instagram that she thought it “would be cool” if they followed Rihanna’s footsteps.
The group held their ground, but were reported by the US media to have reached out to multiple artists of colour to join them during their set – but they all declined.
Eventually Big Boi of Outkast and Travis Scott were unveiled as Maroon 5’s guests, with the latter in particular also getting huge criticism. Scott then revealed that he would partner with NFL to donate $500,000 to the nonprofit organisation Dream Corps.
Another issue facing Maroon 5 and the NFL has been the fact that the Super Bowl is taking place in Atlanta – a place rich with a history of hip hop music. So the fact that the white Maroon 5 have been asked to fill the headline position has been criticised by some.
Levine recently told Entertainment Tonight: “You know, I think that when you look back at every single halftime show, people just can’t… it’s this like insatiable urge to hate a little bit.
“I’m not in the right profession if I can’t handle a little bit of controversy. It’s what it is. We expected it. We’d like to move on from it.”
The Super Bowl airs tonight on BBC One.