The Super Bowl: Where Football Takes a Backseat to the Halftime Show

Usher, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, Ice Spice, Post Malone, Andra Day, Reba McEntire, Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Lil Jon, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, and all performed at a Super Bowl LVIII celebratory party in Las Vegas. Super Bowl LVIII was part football game, part music festival. Artists have found a way to win as much as the teams that hoist the Lombardi Trophy, particularly on the biggest stages in music for decades.

The convergence between music and football has a unique history. Michael Jackson and Prince’s iconic halftime shows to Whitney Houston’s rendition of the national anthem have been pivotal. That’s not to mention the 20th anniversary of nipplegate, which significantly raised YouTube’s profile.

The modern-day connection between music and the iconic football match can be traced back to a specific moment. The 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, had a profound impact. His game-changing role in leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl, while Beyonce performed during the halftime show, led to a power outage. In the years following, acts like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake have graced the stage. However, the NFL struggled to find a performer for the Super Bowl due to controversies surrounding Kaepernick and Eric Reid. This led Rihanna to express her reluctance to participate in the event.

In a scramble, Maroon 5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott agreed to perform. However, the NFL faced severe criticism for its treatment of Kaepernick, particularly for hosting an event in a predominantly black city without a black headliner. This incident prompted a cancellation of Maroon 5’s press conference. Eventually, Jay-Z was involved in a deal that would ensure the Super Bowl Halftime Show would always be of high quality, despite the controversy.

Since then, the Super Bowl Halftime Show has featured diverse acts, signaling a shift in attracting a broader audience. Artists like Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, and Rihanna have all performed, reaching younger and more diverse viewers. The show has proven to be an influential platform, leading to dramatic increases in sales for performers such as Justin Timberlake and Travis Scott.

Super Bowl LVIII set a viewership record of 123.4 million, and Usher’s performance led to an estimated $52 million in earnings. It’s evident that the Super Bowl has become as much a music concert as it is a football game, creating significant opportunities for artists.