10 Super Bowl halftime acts that would've been a better choice than Maroon 5

Axl Rose, Taylor Swift and Jay-Z would all know what to do at halftime of the Super Bowl. (Getty Images)
Axl Rose, Taylor Swift and Jay-Z would all know what to do at halftime of the Super Bowl. (Getty Images)

Let’s not beat around the bush: Maroon 5 hosting this year’s Super Bowl halftime show was the worst musical choice since Grammy voters handed the band its “best new artist” award over Kanye West back in 2005.

A lot of people have interpreted Maroon 5’s selection as the NFL finally scraping the bottom of the barrel after a two-decade run of tapping the biggest musical acts on the planet. Once you set the bar at Sir Paul and Prince, it’s hard to keep topping yourself.

The only problem with that argument is that there’s still a sizable list of platinum-selling artists that haven’t hosted the Super Bowl and would be a better choice than Maroon 5.

And while everyone’s wish list probably looks a bit different, we went ahead and power-ranked the best musical acts that haven’t yet hosted a Super Bowl halftime and would put on the best show while also attracting the biggest audience.

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When assessing the candidates, we tried to keep it both current (so no bands no longer touring) and practical (there’s no way the NFL is handing its halftime show over to, say, Kanye, no matter how oddly entertaining that would be). Other ground rules included no DJs, bands with fewer than three albums (we need acts with demonstrable staying power) and absolutely, positively, no Imagine Dragons.

10 acts we’d like to see host the Super Bowl

1. Taylor Swift: The Moby Dick of Super Bowl halftime acts and it’s somewhat shocking this hasn’t happened yet. One day it inevitably will and Tay-Tay will bring the type of diverse and non-traditional audience the NFL strives to reach. Until that happens, feel free to queue up Swift’s excellent Netflix special and pretend you’re watching the Super Bowl halftime show. It does take place in Cowboys Stadium, after all.

2. Jay-Z: This one might never happen, considering that Jay-Z is peeved at the NFL over its treatment of Colin Kaepernick and reportedly was trying to pressure Travis Scott into not performing with Maroon 5 at this year’s show. But Jay-Z’s star power is undeniable and he’d be a perfect fit for the show if the relationship can ever be healed. The NFL has never had a hip-hop artist headline the halftime show.

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters (Getty Images)
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters (Getty Images)

3. Foo Fighters: The NFL loves its dad rock bands and Dave Grohl’s outfit is at the top of the list of choices that haven’t been exhausted. Like most of Foo Fighters’ music, the pick wouldn’t be particularly inspiring, but we’d love to see Grohl having fun on a stage that size.

4. Rihanna: Beyonce has gotten her shot in recent years, as has Madonna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Rihanna reportedly was offered a chance for this year’s Super Bowl, but turned it down in support of Kaepernick. Like Jay-Z, we hope things can work themselves out because Rihanna at the Super Bowl would be incredible.

5. Guns N’ Roses: This was a pipe dream for so long given Axl Rose’s volatility, chronic tardiness and inability to get along with any of the band’s original members. But now that they’re back together and comfortably ensconced into their “we’ll behave and show up on time as long as people keep buying $250 tickets” age, there’s no denying this show would be great. Here’s a fun parlor game: What would a three-to-four-song Super Bowl set from GNR look like?

6. Metallica: See above (and answer the same set question).

Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Getty Images)
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (Getty Images)

7. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Country music acts have largely occupied the same “added act” territory as hip-hop for the Super Bowl halftime show, though a group of acts (Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, The Judds) did headline the show in Atlanta 25 years ago. Like Jay-Z, McGraw and Hill have enough crossover appeal to make this a memorable show.

8. Pearl Jam: A big piece of our heart would die if the band who took on Ticketmaster in the mid-’90s ended up doing the Super Bowl halftime show. But Eddie Vedder and crew have the experience, the hits that fill a stadium and, again, the dad-rock factor to create some buzz.

9: Elton John and Billy Joel: This seems like an act that’s a little too past-its-prime for 2020 (or beyond) and Elton John is currently on his farewell tour. Still, it’d be fun to see these guys take their hits for one more spin before such a giant crowd.

10. Muse: The English rock band probably puts on an incredible stadium show, but probably isn’t big enough in the States to anchor a Super Bowl. We’d put them at the top of the list of candidates, however, if the NFL ever brings its biggest game to London.

Which musical acts would you like to see play the Super Bowl?

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