Do you hear that? That’d be the quite chirping of crickets – or more specifically, the positive headlines clearly absent following the Maroon 5 appearance at the Super Bowl. Plagued by overwhelming controversy, the band lead by Adam Levine as well as guests Travis Scott and Big Boi took to the half-time show in what was hoped to be the greatest statement against the NFL in recent history. However, we were left disappointed.
Late last year, the NFL finally announced its headlining talent for the annual championship game. Amidst worldwide criticism following the treatment of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick – a player who took the knee in 2016 in response to police brutality and systematic oppression – the likes of Rihanna, Jay-Z and Cardi B all turned down large pay-checks in support of the athlete. In a unexpected turn of event however, Maroon 5 agreed to headline.
With negative press swirling the internet – particularly in the weeks ahead of the event – Maroon 5 attempted a patch-job at its reputation, announcing the NFL would donate $500,000 USD ($689,000 AUD) to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Late last week, Levine also told Entertainment Tonight that a statement for social justice would also follow.
Had to make this to cope with my unbearable disappointment with the #PepsiHalftimeShow
When Maroon 5 doesn’t play sweet victory during the Super Bowl: pic.twitter.com/KvRKsQxRNH
— Sydney (@sydneyknuppel) February 4, 2019
“They will be [heard] — that’s all I want to say because I don’t want to spoil anything,” Levine told the publication. “I like to think that people know where I stand as a human being after two decades doing this. I’m not a speaker. I’m not a public speaker. I do speak, but it’s through the music. My life’s work and what I put out into the universe has been positive and hopefully inspiring.”
With this in mind, over 100 millions viewers around America – and millions more overseas – tuned in. Fireworks and costume changes were aplenty, but ‘the knee’ – or anything referencing a protest – was notably absent. Spanning just over 10 minutes long, the pop rock band banged out hits including ‘Girls Like You’ and ‘ Moves like Jagger’, and while the air was electrified, we couldn’t help but notice Levine’s awkward gaze towards floor. Whether he had genuinely planned a stance for social justice and had quickly backed out or soon realised his career-defining mistake to front the show, he remained compliant and quiet – and its exactly how the NFL had planned it.
Nothing would be worse for the organisation than a riot sparked by an A-list boy-band, but with Levine so openly supportive of political change on his social media, did he miss his golden opportunity? Nevertheless, the issues surrounding the Colin Kaepernick controversy have now been more widely discussed than ever – with or without Maroon 5 as the headliner.