×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why Hip-Hop — Not Coldplay — Is the Only Music That Works for Super Bowl 50

The halftime show has frequently been the highlight of the Super Bowl, but with the announcement last week that Coldplay would be the featured performer at Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, it’s hard to see how the game itself won’t be the draw this year. Maybe that’s what the NFL had in mind when it booked the British band.

The “nip slip” was the best thing to ever happen to the Super Bowl — after Prince’s triumphant performance that is. Quick, name who won those games?

The Super Bowl is a national holiday wherein we all come together to eat too much, get drunk and have fun. It’s a gathering of the tribes — nearly eclipsed by the MTV Video Music Awards in its heyday. That’s why the NFL hired MTV to produce the nip-slip triumph (never call it a fiasco; that’s a misnomer). The league wanted some controversy, and it got it.

Who lost in all that controversy? Certainly not Justin Timberlake. And Janet Jackson is still doing great at the turnstiles. As for CBS, the hosting channel? Leslie Moonves oversees a juggernaut.

But these days, nudity is so prevalent online that Playboy has eliminated it from its magazine. That’s what you do when confronted with a changing landscape; you deliver the unexpected, you get one step ahead.

So why play it safe now?

We know what’s in it for Coldplay. They go to where the most eyeballs are and then put tickets on sale to their tour for “A Head Full of Dreams” the next day. And holding back the album from Spotify is like putting the efforts of a has-been behind a paywall. This is a band that was buoyed by MTV and VH1 when those networks still played music.

“Music is all about marketing, and sports are all about protecting the past and taking no risks — at a time when society is living on the cutting edge.”
@lefsetz

But the NFL has used up all the usual has-beens, classic rockers are too geriatric to excite the assembled multitude, and the best have already made an appearance. So why not feature the music that truly rules the NFL: hip-hop.

Jay Z would be the host, of course. But Hova is surrounded by Kendrick and Drake, and even Killer Mike. Lil Wayne runs out for a cameo, and then Dr. Dre is lowered from the heavens as Snoop Dogg goes into “Gin and Juice.”

Half of America would be thrilled.

And half of America would be vomiting.

Can you imagine the aftermath, the explication of rap’s history, the meaning of the lyrics, the offense taken by those who believe they know better, even though they don’t, not understanding that Drake is a bigger star on Spotify than Adele. Yes, “Hotline Bling” is bigger than “Hello,” because music lives on streaming services, not in CD racks or at the iTunes Store. And Coldplay has one No. 1 hit; Drake has five. This is like playing the second-string QB instead of Cam Newton.

The NFL is in the entertainment business, so why not give the public what it wants? It should ignore the vocal minority imploring it to play it safe. Why would a public enraptured of Snapchat and Instagram be interested in a band that made its bones before Facebook hit the scene?

And while the league has thrown in Beyonce and Bruno Mars for spice, didn’t we just see them in a Super Bowl show?

So this is where we’re at. Music is all about marketing, and sports are all about protecting the past and taking no risks — at a time when society is living on the cutting edge, knowing what happens today probably won’t be remembered tomorrow.

The Super Bowl only comes around once a year. And we punt the ball and give our greatest promotional opportunity to this wimpy group from England?

No, you bring out the heavy hitters. And that means hip-hop.

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

  • Fernando Meirelles The Two Popes

    Telluride: Audience Laughs and Cries During 'The Two Popes' World Premiere

    Little did the audience at the world premiere of “The Two Popes” know that the papal two-hander is actually very funny. No, it’s not a comedy, but the jokes and ribbing between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the future pope, Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), played well in the packed Chuck Jones’ Cinema, as did [...]

  • Renee Zwllweger in Judy

    Telluride: Renée Zellweger Will Return to the Oscars With 'Judy'

    The Oscars love actors playing alcoholic, drug-addicted singers. Last year, Rami Malek took home the big prize for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” beating out Bradley Cooper for his work as the fictional Jackson Maine in “A Star Is Born.” Over the years, we’ve seen Jamie Foxx win for “Ray,” Jeff Bridges [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content