We’ve been on a pretty epic run of rock and roll greats at the Super Bowl over the past eight years. From U2 and Paul McCartney to the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and now the Who, it’s been a Hall of Fame stampede at halftime. If you look back at what the halftime gig consisted of in the mid-to-late 1980s (Up with People, George Burns and Mickey Rooney with a drill team, Chubby Checker, New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan), it definitely feels like we’re in a golden period.
And for good reason. It just makes sense that the biggest TV event of the year should come with the biggest entertainment roster. Here’s the problem, though: We’re running out of superstars. Having already burned through the Big Three (The Who, Stones and the Beatles’ McCartney), as well as modern superstars U2, Springsteen and Prince, who could possibly fill the hole next year and provide the kind of mass market bang for the big game buck?
We already know Led Zeppelin aren’t interested in playing together and while we love the Kinks, they’re don’t really have the same marquee value as their British Invasion peers (and they too don’t want to play live together anymore it seems). In the early rock icon category, Bob Dylan isn’t likely to do it and doesn’t seem right for the job (ditto Simon & Garfunkel). Eric Clapton solo or with Cream also doesn’t inspire helmet-smashing excitement, nor does Elton John or his piano-playing pal Billy Joel.
As much as I love David Bowie, he seems too cool for the gig and while Pink Floyd would provide the proper spectacle, that band, too, seems unlikely to get it together anytime soon. Fleetwood Mac still tour, and they have a beloved catalog that might work, as does Santana and AC/DC certainly have the pyrotechnic power to blow the roof off the sucker.
With the fount of classic rockers dwindling or dry, producers could look to the past two decades and try to convince Madonna to take a swing at the ring. If Van Halen get it together and put out another album, they certainly have the stagecraft and hits to do the big show.
Though it would be a blow to their remaining indie cred and a huge longshot, the Pixies could totally rock it while confounding most of middle America and Trent Reznor might resuscitate Nine Inch Nails one more time to scare all the children still up past their bedtimes (but probably only if he was feeling ironic).
They could go the boring route and dial up a Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift, perhaps paring them with Carrie Underwood and/or Kelly Clarkson. As long as we’re talking shelf life, Britney Spears would bring the appropriate sexy/mass market appeal, and if he ever puts out another album, Justin Timberlake would surely kill the gig (though we kind of doubt the NFL would give a do-over in his case).
That leads us to some hip-hop acts that might work, with exactly one name popping to mind: Run-DMC, who, as of right now, are permanently on ice. And there’s probably half a dozen country acts that are popular enough to do it, but, to be honest, I can’t tell a Brad Paisely from a George Strait or a Kenny Chesney from a Keith Urban, so anyone of those guys would probably do.
It’s gonna be hard to top this year’s extravaganza, which is why we’re asking you to help.
Who would you like to see headline next year’s Super Bowl halftime show? Vote in the poll below, and if you’ve got an even better idea, leave your thoughts in the comments below.