- Maroon 5’s plan to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show this Sunday has weathered several controversies.
- The band’s been criticised for deciding to play after Rihanna and Cardi B turned down the gig over the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick.
- Fans of “Spongebob Squarepants” want Maroon 5 to pay tribute to Stephen Hillenberg, the show’s creator, who died last year.
Ahead of Maroon 5’s expected performance at Super Bowl LIII this weekend, it’s been threatened to be derailed by a number of unexpected controversies.
Pretty much everyone can agree that Maroon 5 is a classic pick for the Super Bowl’s halftime show: They’re popular, familiar, and bland. They will be performing with rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi.
But on their way to Sunday’s performance, Maroon 5 has somehow had to weather controversies over Colin Kaepernick, a canceled press conference, and the legacy of “Spongebob Squarepants” creator Stephen Hillenburg.
Here’s what went down.
Rihanna and Cardi B both reportedly turned down the gig as a way of supporting for Colin Kaepernick
While the Super Bowl halftime show is an unpaid gig, it’s a prestigious one. But both Rihanna and Cardi B reportedly turned down offers from the NFL to headline the show. They both reportedly cited their support for Colin Kaepernick, the black NFL player who alleges that team owners conspired to keep him out of the league for protesting police brutality against people of colour.
Maroon 5 accepted the gig after the two turned it down, which critics interpreted as a slight against Kaepernick.
“I think there are plenty of people – a lot of the players, to be honest – who support Kap and also do their job for the NFL,”Maroon 5 keyboardist told People. “I think we’re doing the same thing. We can support being against police brutality against black and brown people, and be in support of being able to peacefully protest and still do our jobs.”
More than 120,000 people signed a petition asking Maroon 5 to drop out of the show
Maroon 5’s decision to perform didn’t go over well with all of their fans. Many signed a viral Change.org petition asking them to reconsider.
“Until the league changes their policy and support players’ constitutional right to protest, no artists should agree to work with the NFL,” the petition says. “If the band can take a stand for LGBT rights, they should do the same for these players.”
The NFL seemed to dodge another controversy over a social justice nonprofit
One of the reasons Travis Scott, another Super Bowl performer, hasn’t drawn the same ire as Maroon 5 is because of the conditions he set. He agreed to perform only because theNFL joined him in donating$US500,000 to the Dream Corps, a nonprofit that helps diverse communities.
In an apparent attempt to shield Maroon 5 in the same way, the band, their label Interscope Records, and the NFL made a joint donation to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
The NFL cancelled the band’s press conference
It’s traditional for the Super Bowl halftime acts to give a press conference in the week before their Sunday performance. Even Prince, who was famously picky about interviews, at least agreed to show up and give a mini-concert instead of taking questions.
But the NFL, in an apparent attempt to dodge questions about Kaepernick, canceled this week’s press conference altogether.
“Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event,” the NFL said in a statement. “As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday.”
People expect Maroon 5 to pay tribute to Stephen Hillenburg — and they might
Following the death of influential “Spongebob Squarepants” creator Stephen Hillenburg late last year, fans have demanded that Maroon 5 give him some sort of tribute.
The link isn’t as random as it sounds. One of the most joyous scenes from the beloved Nickelodeon show is one where Spongebob sings the song “Sweet Victory” at the Bubble Bowl, Bikini Bottom’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.
It’s also not out of the realm of possibility. A shot from “Spongebob Squarepants” was included in a teaser reel tweeted out by Maroon 5 earlier this month.
And Rodger Bumpass, who voices Squidward Tentacles on the show,suggested on Facebook that he would introduce Maroon 5 at the concert.
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