Super Bowl Sunday is a uniquely American event. The fandom of football, the patriotism of the pre-game, truck commercial after soda commercial after superhero movie commercial followed by a truck commercial. It is a televised exploration of us at our most basic level.
With it all boiled down to please the masses, there are still certain segments that are painfully underserved in the equation. For the music fans among us, the halftime show remains a static example of ignoring swaths of people who subscribe to all of the above, but get left out in the cold when the 2nd quarter ends.
We're seeing the NFL attend to some it this year by desperately scrambling to inject some Hip Hop into their halftime. With the game taking place in the Hip Hop hotbed of Atlanta, it seemed unbelievable to not honor the art form, but after some political posturing and deal making artists like Travis Scott and Big Boi were added the Maroon 5 performance. The outcry to be inclusive towards Hip Hop was huge and warranted, even though Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj, and The Black Eyed Peas have been featured in recent years.
There has been no such luck for Country music. It has been 16 years since the Super Bowl halftime spotlight shined on a Country music star, with Shania Twain taking the lead in Super Bowl XXXVII along with No Doubt and Sting. Before that you have to go back to 1994 when Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds performed. Two out of twenty-five years is not a reflection of this country and what they listen to.
With the announcement of Tim McGraw playing a pre-game NFL Tailgate Party you might see a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but really it's just a reinforcement of the stereotype that the art that has become such a big part of our lives is only fit for parking lot beers and opening acts. The truth is that the power of Country music is bigger than ever, impossible to ignore, and demands a seat on the main stage.
There is plenty of star power to pick from. Maybe seven time GRAMMY-winner Carrie Underwood would be best to usher in a new era for the halftime show, or maybe the experience of selling out football stadiums of Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney is enough to convince those in charge. Young artists like Maren Morris or Kelsea Ballerini could bridge the genre gap for a new generation of fans, or maybe Garth Brooks being one of the top-selling artists of all time would do the trick. Country music is so diverse and so deep that there is no excuse not to feature someone on that Super Bowl stage.
Super Bowl LIV will take place on February 2nd, 2020 in Miami, and we can't wait to see if we are heard.