BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
The lackluster was barely off of Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance when Bruno Mars took to Twitter to endorse a hip-hop-themed show for next year in Atlanta.
Citing familiar local rappers including OutKast, T.I. and Gucci Mane, the recent Grammy king predicted it would “be the best party TV has ever seen.”
But considering Mars has played the Super Bowl twice – as a headliner in 2014 and with Coldplay and Beyonce in 2016 – he should have a better understanding of how the NFL operates.
No one cares where you’re from.
If the league were interested in pairing Super Bowl halftime performers with their hometowns, we would have seen Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey (instead of Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Beyonce in Houston ( instead of Lady Gaga ) and, uh, perhaps Gloria Estefan in Miami (instead of her 1992 appearance at Minneapolis’ previous Super Bowl staging).
Heck, even this past weekend in Minneapolis, Timberlake could have been chucked in favor of a Prince-themed jam featuring Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Morris Day & The Time and Prince’s longtime friend, Sheila E.
But the Super Bowl halftime show isn’t about city synergy – it’s about money (naturally) and which act(s) will entice the highest advertisers, as well as timing.
It’s no coincidence that the past several years, the chosen Super Bowl performer has released an album either immediately before or after taking the stage and/or announced a massive tour.
That makes Atlanta’s choices a little thin if they’re seeking a mass-appeal pop or rock star to produce a spectacle (of course, OutKast COULD reunite again , but don’t expect any guest shots from Cardi B, who already announced she’ll never perform on a Super Bowl stage until Colin Kaepernick gets a job …good luck with that).
Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, U2 and even Harry Styles already have major outings planned for 2018, so they don’t need the publicity. It’s possible the league could look to tap a country star, though hometowners the Zac Brown Band also have a stadium tour plotted this year, while other mainstream names including Shania Twain, Little Big Town, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are hitting the arena and amphitheater circuit.
If they indeed want to lean hip-hop, Jay-Z or Drake are possibilities, though Kendrick Lamar might be eliminated since he just played the College Football National Championship halftime.
Kanye? Rihanna? Fleetwood Mac?
Or hey, Elton John could always add a 301st date to his lengthy farewell tour and say goodbye to one of the cities he still calls occasional home.