With epic past performances by artists like Prince, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, the halftime show is a big reason to watch the Super Bowl for some viewers.
But what was once considered a coveted gig has more recently been tainted by controversy.
This year’s halftime performers – pop band Maroon 5, rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi – have received some criticism for agreeing to perform, despite the NFL’s stance toward former quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem.
Other artists, including Rihanna and Cardi B, reportedly turned down the gig in support of Kaepernick.
Perhaps in an effort to avoid critics, the NFL canceled a press conference with the musicians that had been scheduled for earlier this week.
“Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event,” the NFL said in a statement Tuesday about the decision. “As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday. “
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier published Thursday night, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine explained their decision to perform.
“I spoke to many people, most importantly though, I silenced all the noise and listened to myself, and made my decision about how I felt.” Levine said. “No one thought about it more than I did. No one put more thought and love into this than I did.”
“I think when you look back on every Super Bowl halftime show, it is this insatiable urge to hate a little bit,” Levine added. “I am not in the right profession if I can’t handle a bit of controversy. It is what it is. We expected it. We would like to move on from it and speak through the music.”
As is tradition, speculation about the halftime entertainment is running high. Some have theorized that rocker Mick Jagger will join Maroon 5 to perform the hit 2011 single, “Moves Like Jagger.” (The Rolling Stones performed at the 2006 Super Bowl.) Others are hoping for a surprise duet with the song’s featured artist, Christina Aguilera.
In this time of political polarization, Sunday’s halftime lineup appears to be seeking neutral ground.
When asked by Frazier if he had a message for those who feel their voices haven’t been heard, Levine offered this: “They will be [heard]. That’s all I want to say because I don’t want to spoil anything,” Levine said. “I like to think that people know where I stand as a human being after two decades of doing this. So, what I would say is, you know, we are going to keep on doing what we do, hopefully without becoming politicians to make people understand, ‘We got you.’”
Maroon 5, joined by the NFL and Interscope Records, announced a $500,000 donation to Big Brothers and Sisters of America in advance of their performance. The move matches Scott’s donation to Dreams Corp, a social justice non-profit, two weeks ago.
Take a look at the gallery above for some of the most memorable (and forgettable) Super Bowl performances.