With Maroon 5 rumoured to be the headliners for 2019’s Super Bowl halftime show, the band has reportedly reached out to more than a half-dozen artists to join them onstage — and have yet to find anyone who’ll say yes.
According to Variety, sources claim that the Adam Levine-fronted band has contacted a number of stars but has yet to receive confirmation that they’ll appear with Maroon 5 at halftime show during the 2019 game, to be held in Atlanta.
“Among those considering the appearance are Cardi B, who is featured on the Maroon 5 hit ‘Girls Like You’,” reports Variety, while other acts under consideration include Andre Benjamin (a.k.a. Andre 3000), Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj.
So when did performing in front of television’s biggest audience (Super Bowl viewership regularly tops 100 million) suddenly become such a tough sell? As Variety points out, the NFL kneeling controversy that was instigated by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become polarizing, leading many artists who would have leapt at the opportunity in previous years to become cautious at the potential negative ramifications (Rihanna was reportedly offered the 2019 halftime slot, but turned it down).
Meanwhile, it hasn’t helped that a Change.org petition urging Maroon 5 to step down as halftime headliners has amassed nearly 75,000 signatures and counting, while celebrities including Amy Schumer have announced they’ll be boycotting the Super Bowl in solidarity with Kaepernick.
“Nobody wants to be associated with it,” an insider explains, noting that this is likewise creating difficulties in landing a singer to perform the U.S. national anthem ahead of the game.
“It’s like a movie — if you can’t cast the biggest stars, you need a high-concept,” public relations veteran Howard Bragman of LaBrea.Media tells Variety.
“If other networks smell a weaker show, they’re gonna be counter-programming, so you have to come out really strong.”
Admitting “there’s no question it’s going to be a challenge” for Maroon 5, Bragman offers a suggestion. “They could put a 500-person choir there or find one made up of local kids,” he says. “Regardless, it has to be diverse. That’s who the audience is and that’s the world we live in.”