by Rob Joyce
Little Monsters are going to invade Houston in February. That’s because Lady Gaga is the headliner for the halftime show at Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The music superstar performed on the Super Bowl stage last year with a stirring rendition of the national anthem, and now the Grammy winner will move to what is essentially the biggest concert in entertainment, in front of over 100 million viewers.
Lady Gaga joins a list in recent years that’s included Katy Perry, Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Coldplay as halftime performers. And it has us thinking: who should get the show in future years?
Here’s our list of the five people who should take the stage in the near future (note: anyone who has already performed isn’t eligible):
The NFL over-corrected after the Janet Jackson incident in 2003, shying away from current artists and going with safe oldies from 2005-2010: Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and the Who. While all of them are obviously legends, none were “in their prime” (though Springsteen is still putting on four-hour shows). In the past, Aerosmith and U2 have also performed at the Super Bowl. That leaves out Bon Jovi, who fits the narrative of past their prime, but with millions of adoring fans. Their $259 million in gross concert ticket sales in the 2010s is eighth-highest in the world, and they would undoubtedly have a stadium rocking with “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
The closest the Super Bowl has had to a rapper is Missy Elliott’s cameo with Katy Perry last year and having the Black Eyed Peas headline Super Bowl XLV in 2011. Drake would be the first to fit the traditional rapper mantra, and he would unquestionably draw a crowd. His most recent album, Views, has gone triple-platinum, Drake is a well-established sports junkie and it seems like a natural fit. Sure, the lyrics would need some cleaning up, but between rehearsals and a delay a major incident would seem unlikely.
Now if there’s someone to be worried about, it’d be Yeezy. Kanye is by all accounts a musical genius and he would put on an epic performance, but he’d surely be a controversial pick for the more-traditional NFL. Network executives and the league alike would probably be fearful of some inappropriate lyric not being cleaned up, and the content of some songs would likely come into question – after all, if there’s anyone who doesn’t give a [expletive] about the FCC, it’s Kanye West. But the man can perform, and he’s a megastar. It’s an obvious fit, especially if he gets Jay-Z to join him.
CBS has used Rihanna’s music before for assorted things, and she’s a massive talent: eight Grammys, 14 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and countless other accolades. She could be the line the NFL is looking for between the hip-hop genre and the pop acts they’ve used in recent years. If she were to perform with someone like T.I., Jay-Z or Drake, all of whom she’s collaborated with in the past, that could be a stepping stone for the league to go towards the hip-hop genre in the future.
Now that she officially transitioned from country music star to pop icon, really the only thing she hasn’t done is the Super Bowl halftime show. Her $250 million in gross concert sales this decade are the second-highest in the world for anyone who started their careers after the 1980s (One Direction is higher, with $290 million). She’s divisive, with most either loving her or hating her, but the same can be said for basically any major music act. And the NFL wants to always grow the game – she would attract eyeballs that might not otherwise care about the Super Bowl.