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the Super Bowl Halftime Show was even worse than we expected

Big Boi Super Bowl

Artists usually use the Super Bowl Halftime Show as a chance to put on one of the most grand slam performances of their career, but the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show was more like a bunt. As someone who finds Maroon 5 to be among the most boring, whitebread bands around, I admittedly went into their performance with a bias against them but they still managed to fall short of my expectations. Whether or not you like their music, it’s objectively true that recent Super Bowl Halftime Show performers like Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake aimed to put on one of the most spectacular performances of their career, but Maroon 5 just seemed like they didn’t even try. Save for a minor tease of Squidward’s “Sweet Victory” song (which wasn’t even performed), some fireworks at the end, and Adam Levine awkwardly ripping his shirt off (hubba hubba), nothing about their performance was out of the ordinary at all. They were just kinda… there.

As you’ve probably heard, major black artists like Cardi B, Rihanna, and Jay-Z said that they boycotted the Halftime Show to stand in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick — who the NFL is currently blackballing because of Kaepernick’s decision to protest against racial injustice during performances of the National Anthem — so it makes sense that the NFL had to resort to such a literally and figuratively white band to headline the show, but Maroon 5 did manage to be joined by guests Travis Scott and Big Boi. (Cardi was in a Super Bowl Pepsi commercial though.) Travis Scott’s appearance was nearly as much of a dud as Maroon 5’s, while Big Boi’s brief performance of “The Way You Move” ended up being the only showstealing moment of the night. It seemed like Big Boi was the only one on stage with the interest in simultaneously catering to a football stadium and a national TV audience. OutKast is much more of a personal favorite than Maroon 5 and Travis Scott to begin with, so, again, I went into this with a lot of bias, but Big Boi truly seemed like the only person who came prepared to handle that crowd.

And not one of the performers did anything to combat the controversy and backlash that came with deciding to perform at the Super Bowl. Beyonce (who is presumably joining her husband in telling the Super Bowl “you need me, I don’t need you,” though her protégés Chloe x Halle performed “America the Beautiful” before the game) shook up America with her 2016 Halftime Show performance, which included a Black Panthers homage and the message that black lives matter, and apparently the Super Bowl has insisted on shying away from anything like that ever since. It caused controversy of its own (mostly among racist people), but apparently the NFL has it made it very clear which segment of America they’re willing to upset. “We are going to keep on doing what we do, hopefully without becoming politicians to make people understand,” Adam Levine said. Needless to say, Levine’s quote is massively tone deaf. Staying silent on issues like Black Lives Matter is a political decision. It’s just a much less inclusive one.

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