Roundtable: Who is the ideal Super Bowl halftime performer for 2016?
The NFL recently announced that Coldplay will be headlining the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. That got SI.com's NFL staff thinking... who would be our ideal halftime performer for Super Bowl 50?
Coldplay? Perhaps more apt for a cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl halftime show, like two years ago in East Rutherford, N.J. But not for the golden anniversary game, which calls for a legendary band or singer who can stand the test of time.
My ideal pick for this and every other Super Bowl halftime show would be U2, who are still going strong 30-plus years into their career. Bono and the boys set the bar impossibly high with their moving tribute of a set at the post-9/11 Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2002, but you can’t go wrong with their stage presence or world-wide name recognition. And they happen to still be on tour for their latest album, in a show I caught this summer at Madison Square Garden (they crushed it).
If you had to have a little Bay Area influence at some point during halftime, as a nod to this year’s Super Bowl host community, I’d let Berkeley’s own Counting Crows join U2 on stage for part of the set, with the hope they'd all launch into “Rain King” as a grand finale.
For the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, I would love to watch Kanye West, mostly because I would take great pleasure in watching the buttoned-up NFLers with offices on Park Avenue hold their collective breath. Kanye never follows a script, and chances are, he'd get up on stage and tell everyone how he should win the Lombardi Trophy just for being awesome, or something. Anyway, a Kanye performance at the Super Bowl would never happen for that reason.
Otherwise I'd go with Taylor Swift (whom I'm surprised isn't the pick) or U2 because we all need more The Edge in our lives.
Sort of jokingly pitched this on Twitter, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. The NFL wants relatively safe acts from mostly well-liked artists. So (and this might have to hold until NBC has the game again next year), how about just giving Jimmy Fallon and The Roots control of the festivities. Fallon has a knack for landing great cameos, so he could loop in a few of those—Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift. And it'd be fun, which is key.
That, or my real dream: an all-marching band show, led by Southern or another of the HBCU groups. Let's go back to basics.
Metallica, the biggest band in Bay Area history, will play at AT&T Park the night before Super Bowl 50, but that's not nearly enough. When you think about football—the majesty, the speed, the power, the technical specificity—which brings it more to mind musically? Coldplay or Metallica? And why are we even asking this question? It's understandable that the NFL would want a less ‘offensive’ band for the millions who make this their only football game of the year, but let's make a better call for those who like their music with a little more color. Metallica aren't what they used to be, but you can bet that over their more than three decades in the arena, they've been the favorites of far more NFL players and NFL fans than... Coldplay. I mean, Coldplay. Think about that. Coldplay? Were the Barenaked Ladies unavailable?
Metallica has been Bay Area to the core since they moved there from Los Angeles in the early 1980s. They did so to get away from an antiseptic glam-rock scene (and to seal the deal with prospective bassist Cliff Burton). The NFL should similarly strive for a similar vibe in its halftime shows, and given the momentous nature of the event, the location and the sport it celebrates, who on Earth better than Metallica to make that happen?
Super Bowl 50, a golden affair, deserves a more thoughtful, unique halftime than the formulaic biggest pop star/band who is coincidentally promoting an album. Coldplay was perfect in the aughts for a post-breakup walk on a rainy day but Super Bowl material? Nah.
A better idea would be to merge a variety of stand out halftime acts from the past 50 years onto the same stage. My dream lineup:
Carol Channing (Super Bowl IV), Up with People’s “Salute to the Big Band Era” (Super Bowl XIV), New Kids on the Block (Super Bowl XXV), Aerosmith, Nelly and Britney Spears (Super Bowl XXXV), U2 (Super Bowl XXXVI), Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake (Super Bowl XXXVIII), Beyonce (Super Bowl XLVII)
This special retrospective would overflow with nostalgia and provide something for everyone. Nobody said it was easy, NFL, but gathering these acts from the past would be chill-inducing.
Guys, there's only one answer to this question, and we all know it—others have even referenced it above. Taylor Swift is the ideal halftime performer for Super Bowl 50. Swift is wrapping up her 1989 Tour, which sold out venues worldwide, making the Super Bowl perfect timing to promote her record-breaking album one final time. There isn't a hotter musical artist who appeals to a wider range of people than Swift right now. Want soaring TV ratings? Bring in the country-turned-pop star with a squeaky-clean image (no worry of her pulling a Janet Jackson here).
On top of that, Swift is friends with EVERYBODY, and you know she would bring in a squad to be jealous of to the 50th Super Bowl. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if she convinced Roger Goodell himself to stand up on her catwalk-stage with her at Levi's Stadium.
Fear not! I have the solution that will make everyone happy: Choose Taylor Swift, and she will proceed to bring every other famous person she knows or wants to know onto the stage with her. We all win! U2 and Metallica? I'm sure she'll call them up and perform some sort of bizarre duet that doesn't make much musical sense, but makes for a pretty cool show. Kendrick Lamar? Check. A bunch of Tay’s best friends, who also happen to be models, to strut around the stage randomly laughing? Yep! Mick Jagger? Kobe Bryant?? Joan Baez??? Why the hell not, they've done it before.
Since this is Super Bowl 50, she should be required to bring at least 50 people on stage with her. And hey, Russell Wilson already has experience with Taylor Swift concert appearances, so if the Seahawks aren't playing in this particular game, at least their quarterback will have something to do.
The NFL should aspire to make Super Bowl 50 unique in every way and transcend the normal halftime show. This year they should have higher purpose and create a sorely needed mini-mega-concert for world peace. Why not recreate as much of 1984’s Live Aid lineup as they can? Big stars would come out for the right cause. Just headliners—no Hooters or Adam Ant.
Open with Bono giving a speech on healing, and then bring out seven or eight of the original acts for one song each: David Bowie, Elton John, Paul McCartney. Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Bob Dylan. Mix in younger acts like Taylor Swift, Adele, Carrie Underwood and Kanye West on vocals. Then bring out everyone you can find, including Roger Goodell, for an all-time version of “We are the World.” The image of the Commissioner swaying arm and arm with John Oates singing his heart out would be the greatest halftime moment of all time.
I have a broader thesis statement: Beyoncé should be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2016, and Beyoncé should be performing at the next 10 Super Bowl halftime shows, and the two Super Bowl halftime shows in which Beyoncé has not been involved since Super Bowl XLVII have been unmitigated failures.
The powers that be are too hung up on variety. Who loses in the scenario in which a national audience gets a different 15-minute Beyoncé concert every February? In three years, she's produced enough material to mix up the set list from her literally show-stopping performance in New Orleans. I’m envisioning her growing into a Dick Clark-esque MC role, bringing on guest performers of increasingly prominent stature before bringing the house down on her own each year. Soon enough, we’ll all have accepted her as an irreplaceable part of the spectacle and we can avoid this stressful process altogether.