Quick reaction: Maroon 5’s Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show

(February 3, 2019) I’ll cut to the chase. There’s only one word for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show in Atlanta.  

It was the worst!

Okay, that was four words.

But how else can you assess what was probably the most uneven halftime show in the history of Super Bowl halftime shows?

Maroon 5 didn’t bother holding the normal pre-event press conference earlier this week and, in an earlier statement explained they would let the music speak for itself.

Well, it did.  

Thank goodness for the perennial group of hundreds of young revelers who get to storm the field and jump up and down like they’re at a rave party.  It’s the organizers’ way of hyping up what amounts to the NFL’s annual halftime gamble: a performance that may or may not live up to the level of excitement the crowd exudes.

I can only imagine what the fans throughout the remainder of the stadium were thinking as they sat and watched this mini-concert unfold before their eyes.

In this case, the show couldn’t have been more contrived and more uneven. 

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine performs “Moves Like Jagger” at the end of his halftime show at Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.

First, the millennium’s top pop group Maroon 5 opened – as expected – with a medley of their earliest hits, beginning with “Harder To Breathe,” a pyrotechnics-filled snippet that almost as quickly as it started segued into their second (and best) hit, “This Love,” featuring a very short and forgettable guitar solo by frontman Adam Levine. 

That was when the trouble started.  

Only two minutes in, rapper Travis Scott arrived via a fireball that seemingly comes out of the sky and lands on the elaborate “M” (for Maroon) shaped stage, performing his big 2018 No. 1 hit, “Sicko Mode.”  

Except, Scott – who had one of the best albums of 2018 – couldn’t decide whether he wanted to shout or rap his verse, that is, when you could actually hear his lyrics when they weren’t being censored out by network producers.  

Even more awkward was when “Sicko Mode” featured artist Drake’s verse came on the backing track and Scott hopped up and down as if he was hyping someone else’s song.  Drake obviously wasn’t present for the performance, which illustrates the difficulties of an act having to carry the water for his half of a hit collaboration when the other artist isn’t available, especially when that artist is the one who arguably carried the song originally. 

Maroon 5 salvaged Scott and returned with their own example of that difficulty when they performed their recent No. 1, the Cardi B-assisted “Girls Like You,” without the Bronx rapper there to do her part.  Cardi had turned down the NFL’s request to perform out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback whose protests during pregame national anthems have been a lightening rod for the NFL and its fans and celebrities for three years now. 

Without Cardi to assist, Maroon 5 concocted a version of “Girls” with, get this, a full black church choir in tow.  

A church choir?  Replacing Cardi B?

Talk about flipping the script.

At least it presumably gave a hometown group a chance to shine, if only for thirty seconds. 

Maroon 5 continued with another early hit, “She Will Be Loved,” before turning the event over to the only well-known Atlanta-based artist on the roster, OutKast’s Big Boi, who performed his big hit, “The Way You Move.”  He obviously rapped his verse over the record, even though he had a background singer and brass section on hand to give the appearance of a live show. The song’s backing track (complete with Big Boi’s original vocal) was as evident as his big fur coat was on what had to be a hot stage given the earlier pyrotechnics.

Maroon 5 then took over again, with Adam Levine now revealing a ripped body with tatted torso and arms while the band played two of its hits from this decade: first “Sugar” and then “Moves Like Jagger,” where Levine did his best to look and move like Mick.  

The latter song’s first verse, which Levine sang, included the lyrics: “you wanted control, so we waited, I put on a show, now we’re naked.  You say I’m a kid, my ego is big, I don’t give a shhh”

Yep, he was right.  

The music – and the whole show – spoke for itself.

Maroon 5 would have been better off on stage alone.

The NFL clearly has some work to do before next year’s show. 


Atlanta rapper Big Boi and his cohort on stage during Super Bowl LIII’s halftime show on February 3, 2019.
Gladys Knight performed the “Star Spangled Banner” at SB53 on February 3, 2019, in Atlanta.