The Super Bowl has become a great concert that features a football game

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Usher, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, Ice Spice, Post Malone, Andra Day, Reba McEntire, Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Lil Jon, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, and all performed or were at the same party on a Sunday night in Las Vegas. Super Bowl LVIII was part football game, part music festival. And over the last few years, artists have found a way to win just as much as the teams that hoist the Lombardi Trophy do.

Who wins the Super Bowl next year?

From Michael Jackson and Prince’s iconic halftime shows to Whitney Houston’s legendary rendition of the national anthem, the Super Bowl has been one of the biggest stages in music for decades. And that’s without getting into the 20th anniversary of nipplegatewhich made Youtube a household name.

But before we can talk about the current landscape and its unique connection between music and the planet’s most famous football game, we need to go back a few years to examine the exact moment when things changed.

Enter Colin Kaepernick.

That’s right, a 49ers quarterback, who was an actual game-changer, plays a big role in this. When No. 7 led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2013 in New Orleans, Beyonce performed during the halftime show — causing the lights to go out. In the following years, we saw acts like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Coldplay (with Bruno Mars and Beyonce), Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake, again, take the stage. But then, something happened in 2018, as the NFL couldn’t get anybody on the phone as they prepared for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.


The conversation around the blackballing of Kaepernick and Eric Reid was at its peak, as the two filed a collusion case against the league in 2018 — which was later settled. Artists took note and stood in solidarity.

“I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people,” Rihanna told Vogue in 2019. “I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

In a scramble, the league was able to find a willing participant in Maroon 5 — with special guests Big Boi and Travis Scott. However, the damage was already done. The NFL was having a Super Bowl in a Black city that was the epicenter of the Black music that the world loved and couldn’t get a Black artist to headline the halftime show because of what they’d done to a Black player (Kaepernick).

It got so bad that the league canceled Maroon 5’s press conference due to the questions that were going to be asked.

“As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday,” the NFL said in a statement. “Starting with the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show announcement, we began a cross-platform rollout of behind-the-scenes footage and content from each of the halftime performers. Instead of hosting a press conference, this social and digital media rollout will continue through Sunday across our owned and operated media assets as well as through the platforms of the artists.”

So, what changed?

Enter Jay-Z.

In 2019, Beyonce’s husband infamously said: “I think we have moved past kneeling. I think it is time to go into an actionable item … I’m not minimizing [Kaepernick’s] part of it. That has to happen. That is a necessary part of the process. But now that we all know what’s going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it?”

Two things happened that day. Jay-Z sat in a room next to Roger Goodell taking pictures like they were best friends in an act that undercut everything that Kaepernick was fighting against. Secondly, it was assured that the Super Bowl Halftime Show would never suck again due to a deal that gave Jay-Z and Roc Nation control over selecting the musical acts.

One step forward, one step back — at the same time.

Since then, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, The Weeknd, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Rihanna have all performed as the Super Bowl Halftime Show caters to younger and more diverse audiences, rather than being something that Middle and Corporate America approve of.

According to Joe Pompliano and his “Huddle Up” Substack, Justin Timberlake saw a 534 percent increase in sales after performing, Travis Scott’s performance fee doubled, Lopez and Shakira gained more than three million Instagram followers, and Rihanna became the most-streamed artist on Earth for a time as searches for her Fenty Beauty products went up 833 percent.

On Monday night, we found out that Super Bowl LVIII set a record with 123.4 million viewers, making it America’s most-watched telecast since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. And according to FrontOfficeSports, Usher’s performance earned him an estimation of more than $52 million.

Usher won the Super Bowl as much as Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce did. He released a new album days before his performance, as ticket sales for this upcoming tour are ongoing and only increasing in value. On top of that, Beyonce was featured in a Super Bowl ad that hinted at new music, as two new songs were released during the game, along with the announcement of a new album being on the way. None of these things happened at the Grammys, as that was last week’s news. This is all due to the Super Bowl, which, to some, is now a concert that features a football game. 

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