Maroon 5 is boring. It is also a wildly successful band. I posit that boredom is an integral component of Maroon 5’s success. To paraphrase Judge Elihu Smails from “Caddyshack,” the world needs boring music, too.
Furthermore, I propose that boring music is the perfect music for the Super Bowl halftime show. As the most-watched television program of every calendar year, it’s important to find music that will not offend those millions of advertising targets drinking mugs of queso in their rumpus rooms.
It tickles me to hear people complain about Maroon 5’s Super Bowl halftime show, a phrase I’m probably supposed to pay PepsiCo to use or stamp with a trademark insignia. Simply combining “Maroon 5” and “Super Bowl halftime show” in a sentence is an act of such latent lethargy that it makes ... zzzzzzz ... zzzzzz ... zzzzz.
Honestly, people, what do you want? I know, I know, you want energy and innovation and bleeding-edge artistic expression combined with musical virtuosity and a life-affirming message of compassion. You know what else I know? You’re lying.
I know what you want, what you really, really want. You want something easy and safe and bland that reminds you of being a child cradled in the warm embrace of your mother. You want something that’s as familiar as grandma’s wallpaper and twice as flat. Advertisers know that, too, and that’s why we all had to sit through Adam Levine’s asexual falsetto striptease routine.
Which is OK. We’re talking about the Super Bowl halftime show here. The NFL and its myriad sponsors want you to believe it’s some sort of artistic Mount Everest, but it’s the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show of dentist office waiting room music. Kudos to Maroon 5 for their well-deserved victory.
You know who some past heroes of the Super Bowl halftime show are? Coldplay, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Black-Eyed Peas, James Belushi, Clint Black, Pete Fountain (twice!) and Carol Channing (twice!). Let’s set Carol aside. She will always be a treasure. But the rest of those names are a playlist for one of those radio stations that claims it will make everyone happy—“even the boss!”
The big-name acts that have taken over the halftime show in the past 20 years are mostly great, and mostly boring. Madonna, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, U2, The Who and all of their classic-pop brothers and sisters are amazing, but they’re old, and therefore benign. Madonna wasn’t out there in a wedding dress singing “Like a Virgin” in 1984. In 1984, we got a “Super Bowl Salute to the Superstars of the Silver Screen.”
There are a couple of exceptions, and one of them is Prince, who seems to be the gold standard for Super Bowl halftime shows. To be sure, Prince was always dangerous and titillating—he was sex incarnate, after all—but he played in 2007, not in 1984 when he was corrupting youth with “Darling Nikki.”
Then there was the 2004 halftime show, when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson reminded overstuffed sofa-squatters across the country that breasts exist. The puritan backlash was swift and nearly as violent as many of the ads that typically run during the Super Bowl.
God forbid something like that should happen again, so Maroon 5 was an insurance policy. You know, for the kids. The band is so bland that Adam Levine’s exposed nipples caused nary a yawn. It was a master class in boring music, perfectly situated in a boring venue.
If you’re looking for something exciting, the Super Bowl halftime show is the wrong place to look. If you want to hear something exciting, Maroon 5 is the wrong band to listen to. Together, they’re perfect.