It Might Be Too Early To Predict Who Will Perform At The Halftime Show At Super Bowl LV But That Didn’t Stop Us From Trying Anyway

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Another Super Bowl has come and gone, and with it, another halftime show is officially in the books.

To be fair, that was a hell of a halftime show. I lost track but I think Jennifer Lopez and Shakira played portions of roughly 872 songs and made everyone both rethink their diet and consider exercising more.

Entering the third decade of the century, the halftime show of Super Bowl LIV was everything we should want from the gig and more. It was fun, flashy, upbeat, memorable, and was the kind of rush of energy that Coke could only dream of when it came up with the idea to make an energy drink.

However, it’s now time to turn the page and look ahead to next year’s game and kick around some ideas as to who should perform.

Right off the bat, I’m eliminating the following acts as they have all performed in recent years:

  • Maroon 5 (2019)
  • Justin Timberlake (2018)
  • Lady Gaga (2017)
  • Coldplay (2016)
  • Katy Perry (2015)
  • Bruno Mars (2014, 2016)
  • Beyoncé (2013, 2016)

If we were to run it back with one of these artists, my first thought would be Beyoncé because she’s Beyoncé, and if anyone can do it, she can. I’d also consider Lady Gaga because when she performed, she jumped off the roof of the stadium and that was dope.

Running it back is boring, though, and Super Bowl LIV’s halftime show proved that we can do better than boring—or at least we can try.

Let’s start with the location of Super Bowl LV. It’s in Tampa. Part of what made the Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performance so special was how it leaned heavily into the local flair and really highlighted Miami’s musical vibe and style. Is that even possible with Tampa?

Well, a quick Google search of musicians from Tampa came up with people like country singer Slim Whitman, Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke, and jazz trumpeter Nat Adderley. There are also three death metal bands to choose from in the form of Morbid Angel, Obituary, and Deicide if we want to go down that road.

If folks were up and arms about Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s sexiness, they’ll love the upbeat vibe of 15 minutes of hammering death metal.

It’s always a shame that Tom Petty is no longer with us, but man, if he were, I just checked and his hometown of Gainesville is only two hours north of Tampa. Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at Super Bowl XLII in 2008 and him performing at Super Bowl LV would have been as close of a home run if there ever was one if he was still with us.

However, we have to eliminate the local angle. That’s fine; it’s certainly not a huge stumbling block. Instead, here are a handful of performers who should be in the running to perform at next year’s Super Bowl.

Lizzo

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Yes, there is a bit of recency bias here but did you not see her at the Grammys? Lizzo is the real deal, folks.

However, a year is an incredibly long time, and while I’m certainly not going to say that Lizzo is a flash in the pan, I do wonder what our relationship with her will be like by the time Super Bowl LV rolls around.

At some point, we’ll need something new from her to keep us interested, right?

It could be that she rides her momentum into the summer and then kind of dips out for a bit before going to work on a new album.

We have short attention spans and it’s a big ask for anyone—let alone Lizzo—to hold our attention for another year.

If anyone could do it, though, Lizzo can.

Halsey

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I think if we’re in the business of trying to predict the future (and in some respects we are) I could see Halsey having a big year in 2020. On top of that, I could actually see her having a big enough of a year where her performing at the halftime of the Super Bowl would make a lot of sense.

If she were to have done it this year, it might have felt like a stretch. But I think if you give her some time, that could be a different story.

She recently released a new album, Manic, which is currently number two on the Billboard 200. On Spotify, she’s at 18th in the world with over 43 million streams a month. Radio stations still play “Closer,” her hit with The Chainsmokers, and her new single “You should be sad” is presently marching up the charts.

Guys, Halsey is popular and it feels like she’s only going to get more popular.

Don’t sleep on Halsey.

Ariana Grande

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: Singer Ariana Grande performs onstage during the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 9, 2016 in Burbank, California. MTV Movie Awards airs April 10, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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Don’t sleep on Ariana either.

I do think that if she were to perform at halftime, she would need some more upbeat songs. Her last album, Thank U, Next, is great, but a lot of the popular songs are somewhat subdued.

The Super Bowl halftime show is not a subdued affair.

Grande is reportedly currently working on a new album, and if that record features some legit bangers and bops, it’ll make her a legit contender for the gig.

We’ll consider her a dark horse for now but reserve the right to change our minds dependent on this upcoming LP.

Justin Bieber

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I don’t know if you missed this but Bieber is very methodically coming back into our lives.

The Biebs recently launched a new YouTube docuseries, has released a couple new tracks, and last week, he announced that his new album, Changes, is set to be released on February 14. Once summer rolls around, he’s hitting the road.

Bieber is heading out on a big old stadium and arena tour that runs from May through September.

That’s right. Stadiums. You know what else happens in stadiums? Super Bowls.

Like Grande, though, a lot of Bieber’s biggest tunes aren’t necessarily the most high energy jams out there. There are definitely songs you can dance too but not to the degree of a Justin Timberlake track or a Beyoncé anthem.

Bieber is a song-and-dance man, though, and if given the chance, I could see him rising to the occasion.

I’m keeping an eye on this one.

Rihanna

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There have been rumors making their way around the office for a while now that Rihanna will have a new album this year. When? No one knows. At this point, all we have is hope, and while hope can be a dangerous thing, it’s better than nothing.

Rihanna is easily a big enough name to headline the halftime show—probably the biggest name we’ve mentioned so far. If you thought this year’s Super Bowl halftime show was sexy: Look out!

There is a stumbling block here though—mainly comments Rihanna has made in the past about doing the gig. Last October, she confirmed that she turned down performing at this year’s Super Bowl, citing solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

You’d think that the NFL’s partnership with Jay-Z might possibly help change her mind, as the hip-hop artist teamed up with the league in August to be their “live music entertainment strategist.” However, Rihanna made her comments about the halftime show in October so perhaps we shouldn’t really consider her relationship with Hov at all.

Unfortunately, perhaps we shouldn’t consider RiRi performing at all either. That’s a bummer.

BTS

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These dudes are hugely popular. You yourself might not listen to them but I bet the person sitting next to you does.

I watched them at this year’s Grammys performing with Lil Nas X and couldn’t help but think that come next year, BTS is going to be a headliner. If 2020 feels like the year Halsey makes the leap, the same goes for BTS (except their leap would be significantly bigger, and no, not because there’s more of them).

The K-pop group has a new album coming out this month and they are playing stadiums all over the world this summer—including the Rose Bowl, Soldier Field, and MetLife.

What do you say, NFL? You want to go super international next year?

I could see everyone on this list I’ve mentioned so far playing the gig solo and I could also see BTS doing exactly that. However, my money is on them teaming up with another act. Who? I don’t know. Maybe Ariana? I’d be very down.

Taylor Swift

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Nope, I’m going to stop you right here.

Pepsi traditionally sponsors the halftime show and Taylor Swift is still in a long-term relationship with Coke.

Unless Coke can pull off some kind of big-time corporate hijacking this seems like a long shot.

Drake

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This might actually make too much sense. Doesn’t it feel like Drake was born to play at the halftime of the Super Bowl?

Drake is such a marvelously safe bet for the NFL too. He lets them say that they are bringing a rapper and everyone knows that rap is cool so he allows them to seem hip and edgy without really being either of those things.

Imagine a halftime show consisting of Drake songs like “God’s Plan,” “Hotline Bling,” “One Dance,” and “Passionfruit?” Drake also loves himself a good collaboration so his set could include everyone from Future to DJ Khaled and J. Cole to Migos.

Man, the NFL would look so cool. Folks, keep an eye on this one. I’m serious.

Foo Fighters

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I know, I know. The halftime show really isn’t a place for rock bands anymore. This isn’t something we all just realized. It became abundantly clear when Coldplay performed in 2016 and were overshadowed on their own stage by Bruno Mars and Beyoncé.

Don’t even get me started on Maroon 5’s performance. I think it’s best if we all just pretend that never happened.

While I do strongly believe that the halftime gig is one strictly for pop acts now, if there were ever a rock band out there that could pull it off, it’s the Foo Fighters. Have you ever seen a clip of the Foos performing live—specifically in a stadium? They effin’ own that place.

They have the songs that would be needed and the frontman to preside over the whole thing in Dave Grohl. Plus, 2020 marks the band’s 25th anniversary, so they’ll be coming off what we have to assume will be a big year for them.

Perhaps the NFL is sitting in their offices this week and getting nervous because of some of the criticism being levied against this year’s show for being super, super sexy. Perhaps they feel the need to course-correct like they did after Nipplegate and try to play it safe.

The NFL has a history of doing this so it wouldn’t be the first time.

Perhaps they elect to go back to rock to avoid any potential controversy? Aren’t the Foo Fighters their best option? Of course they are.

I can’t see it happening, though.

My money is on Halsey with some side action on Bieber and a few bucks on BTS with special guests.

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