Not Playing the Super Bowl

November 9, 2018

Performing at the Super Bowl halftime show is one of the biggest gigs in music — a singer or band has truly “made it” if they’re asked to play for a stadium full of 90,000 people and a TV audience of a billion or so. And yet quite a few of those who have been asked have said “thanks…but no thanks.”


Prior to the 2017 Super Bowl, there were rumors that one of the most popular singers in the world, Adele, was asked to play the show in the middle of the big game. Her representatives refused to comment on the matter, but then Adele confirmed she’d turn down the chance from the stage at a concert in Los Angeles. “First of all, I’m not doing the Super Bowl. Well, I mean, come on, that show is not about music,” she said. “I can’t dance or anything like that. They were very kind, they did ask me, but I did say no. I’m sorry.”


The frontrunner to play the 2019 Super Bowl: pop-rock band Maroon 5. If that seems like an odd choice, consider that organizers asked superstar singer Rihanna. In October 2018, someone close to the singer told the media that Ri-Ri was officially asked, but she said no because she “stands with the players and Colin Kaepernick,” supporting the ongoing “take a knee” protests against police brutality.


Another major female singer of the day: Pink. She’s so well known and has such a great voice that she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in early 2018. After Rihanna turned down the halftime show, show producers approached Pink to do it. She declined the chance because negotiations dragged on for so long she decided to drop out of the running.


Justin Timberlake headlined the 2018 Super Bowl halftime presentation…14 years after his infamous appearance on the same stage, when he ripped part of Janet Jackson’s clothes off and exposed her. Nobody wanted to perform with Timberlake, it would seem. Jackson, reportedly still resentful that Timberlake let her take the fall for the 2004 incident, said no to a special appearance, as did Timberlake’s old boy band-mates in NSYNC.


Seventies soft-rock superstars the Eagles reunited in 2007 with Long Road Out of Eden, a chart-topper that marked the band’s first studio album in nearly three decades. In 2008, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played a bunch of their classic rock hits at the Super Bowl…but only because the Eagles turned down the chance to play their old chestnuts.