×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maroon 5’s Super Bowl Halftime Performance: No Shirt, No Stumbles, No Surprises

The group's performance was every bit as thrilling as the game itself.

In the end, it was about abs, not knees.

Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime performance will by no means go down as the worst ever, but it immediately wins a trophy for most anticlimactic, with weeks of tense buildup leading up to exactly the fizzy 14 minutes you would have pictured in your head if Colin Kaepernick had never existed.

Prior to showtime, two possible surprise elements had been hinted at — that there’d be a nod to SpongeBob Squarepants, and that there’d be a nod to social consciousness. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, in AtlantaPatriots Rams Super Bowl Football, Atlanta, USA - 03 Feb 2019
CREDIT: Mark Humphrey/AP/REX/Shutterstoc

But we did get barechestedness for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVIII, and this time the cameras did not cut away but embraced frontman Adam Levine in all his well sculpted glory, as he made the last of three costume changes — trench coat stripped down to sweater, stripped down to tank top, stripped down to hubba-hubba — “Sugar” gave way to eye candy. Levine could not provide vindication for Kaepernick, but at least he could avenge the ghost of Janet Jackson, in a male-privilege kind of way.

For something that was supposed to explode with pop exuberance, the performance felt oddly denuded of joy, although maybe you could ascribe part of that to the fact that Levine has never been the grinning-est frontman even under less pressure-cooker circumstances. When a girl held up a balloon bearing the world “SMILE” near the end, I half-imagined that was an actual stage direction, though the appearance of Big Boi toward the climax did get Levine to crack one.

Through no major fault of Maroon 5’s, the 14 minutes felt even more disjointed than they needed to, thanks to the need to pass the baton to guest stars that is apparently de rigueur for any halftime performance now. Think of them as halftimes within a halftime. That’s how it felt when Travis Scott showed up and Maroon 5 seemed to slip out of sight for a while, before Levine reappeared to bop up and down a little beside him and strum two or three chords on his guitar. At least Levine and Big Boi looked like they had met prior to the game’s coin toss.

As for who could replace Cardi B (who was quite vocal about opting out because of her feelings about the NFL and Kaepernick) on “Girls Like You,” the answer was, it takes, if not quite a village, then a very incongruous gospel choir.

It would have been fun if the nod to SpongeBob had involved more than a fleeting bit of animation. More than a million Change.org petitioners had requested a performance of the show’s legendary Super Bowl halftime-spoofing “Sweet Victory,” which had been recently mashed up with Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” providing a perfect moment for harmonic convergence. But having already given up several minutes of their time to hip-hop cameos, Maroon 5 was not about to waste any of their time on that severe a degree of Weezer-agrees-to-do-“Africa”-style fan servicing.

What we got, besides that brief bit of Squidward, was a lot of the same pyro you see in an arena any night of the week, an M-shaped stage for branding’s sake, a nice Levine guitar solo to remind you of when his rock band was both rock and a band, and several of the better pop singles of recent years, including the irresistible “Sugar,” in the K-Tel commercial form this annual medium demands. And a sweet introductory dedication to Maroon 5’s late manager, Jordan Feldstein. And some drone-type orbs that spelled out “ONE” and then “LOVE,” which seemed to be the sole fulfillment of a wokeness quotient Levine had indicated would redeem their decision.

No knees taken, and no bows, but no walks of shame, either. When Levine puts a shirt back on, it should read, “I Survived Super Bowl LIII.” Given the sturm und drang of recent weeks, maybe that was setting the bar high enough.

Maroon 5's Super Bowl Halftime Performance: No Shirt, No Stumbles, No Surprises

More Music

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • Martin Bandier to Be Honored at

    Martin Bandier to Be Honored at Songwriters Hall of Fame Ceremony

    Martin Bandier, outgoing chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, will be awarded the Visionary Leadership Award at the 50 th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. According to the announcement, the Visionary Leadership Award “acknowledges a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Board [...]

  • Ashley Tisdale

    Ashley Tisdale Signs With ICM Partners

    ICM Partners has signed singer and actress Ashley Tisdale for representation worldwide for music. Tisdale, best known for her role as Sharpay Evans in the Disney franchise “High School Musical,” will be represented at the agency by a team led by Mike Hayes. She is managed by Red Light’s Sarah Jabbari and Jonathan Shank. Tisdale’s music [...]

  • soundcloud-logo

    SoundCloud Launches Tool to Distribute Music to Other Streaming Services

    SoundCloud today announced a new distribution tool that enables artists to distribute their music to other streaming services. The feature, currently in open beta the service’s Pro and Pro Unlimited platforms, means that artists can upload their music to SoundCloud competitors including Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and Instagram. “Creators using the SoundCloud Premier distribution feature keep [...]

  • BTS61st Annual Grammy Awards, Arrivals, Los

    BTS Announces Stadium Dates for 'Love Yourself: Speak Yourself' Tour

    BTS have announced eight stadium dates for their global “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour. The tour kicks off on May 4 at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Los Angeles before traveling through Chicago, New Jersey, Brazil, London and France. It is scheduled to hit two stadiums in Japan the following July. The group has dates [...]

  • A still from Leaving Neverland by

    'Leaving Neverland' Director Open to Potential Sequel to Controversial Michael Jackson Doc

    Ahead of its March 3 premiere on HBO, “Leaving Neverland” director Dan Reed tells Variety he is open to creating a follow-up to his controversial four-hour documentary revolving around sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. If, that is, he would be able make contact with the King of Pop’s earlier high-profile accusers, Jordan Chandler and [...]

  • Ryan Adams Sexual Harassment

    Ryan Adams' Guitarist Begs Him to 'Get Help'

    In the wake of a Feb. 13 New York Times report in which multiple women accuse Ryan Adams of sexual misconduct or emotionally abusive behavior, Adams’ guitarist, Todd Wisenbaker, urged the singer to “get help” in an Instagram post on Sunday. Beginning by writing in the caption, “This is incredibly hard for me to do but Ryan please [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content