Does it matter that the “safe choice” for Music TV’s single biggest performance doesn’t have a good album?
This Sunday Justin Timberlake takes the Super Bowl Halftime stage to support an album that Pitchfork describes as “shallow” and “a huge misstep for Justin” …but does it matter?
Let’s start with why Justin? Let’s be honest—he’s not musically exciting, he’s already done it, and nobody misses him yet. So wasn’t there anyone else the fans would be more excited to see?
Millennial pop fans prefer Charlie Puth – but JT is okay
R&B pop fans prefer Cardi B – but JT is okay
Older pop fans prefer Madonna – but JT is okay
Rock fans apparently don’t exist
Country fans prefer Chris Stapleton – but JT is okay if he brings Chris Stapleton
So when you look at it that way—JT is the clear and obvious choice for today’s TV Executive. The question of “is he musically relevant right now?” wasn’t even asked. Booking rule number one for TV Execs should always be—how is the music?
As long as we’re attempting to safely appeal to the perfect middle of a divided country, JT is what we get. But I can’t help but believe that going for the “second best booking” because it safely checks the boxes isn’t just a cop-out. How well is “lowest common denominator” working in other areas?
Now, throwing a bone to JT… his catalog and charisma may pull him through just fine. But I do hope he doesn’t bring Jimmy Fallon on stage. If he brings out Janet Jackson however— I’ll forgo another trip to the seven-layer dip and watch what happens. All that said, a “safe” performer with a questionable new album should not be enough to book TV’s biggest music gig.
Yes, everyone will be a ratings expert by Monday morning. But answering the headline’s question of “does it matter” two day’s before the event isn’t a sure thing. He’s a star for a reason, even if that reason happened a few years back. Social media will rant regardless of quality, so perhaps the actual Halftime ratings will be the only true definition of Halftime success or failure.
If Halftime experiences a ratings drop-off of Grammy proportions then yes, it matters. Take a knee to that.