I remember around the time Kanye’s album Graduation came out and one of the topics he talked about concerning the sound of the album was the term: Stadium Status. Basically songs that are meant to be performed in front of a lot of people, songs that could hit everyone in the crowd no matter where someone was sitting or standing. Kanye talked about a conversation he had with U2 frontman Bono on hip hop and recalled Bono saying that hip hop lacks artists that could perform in front of massive crowds of people. Major rock bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2 and many others have proven their stadium status for decades. For the most part Bono was right and still is right. Kanye is one of the few hip hop artists that can control a large crowd with songs that are meant to be performed with a band and not just with the usual hip hop staple of a mic and a DJ. Subsequently Kanye’s albums after and including Graduation have taken this stadium status approach to the production of the music to some extent.
So last night when Beyonce performed during the Super Bowl halftime show the term stadium status came back to mind. Her eleven minute performance was near flawless. The song selection was excellent for the stage and the moment. Starting with the horn infused “Crazy In Love” (also one of her biggest hits) was a terrific choice to get the crowd hyped and going. Of course her dance moves and stage presence helped her gain universal positive reviews from critics and from Twitter heads alike. Also throw in a Destiny Child reunion and you have one of the better Super Bowl halftime performances in a while. Although the bar is not high considering some of the past acts that have performed during halftime.
Since the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake incident Super Bowl halftime performers have been relatively safe. Older acts such as Tom Petty and Bruce Springstein have gotten the call from the networks to perform. Even Prince performed a few years ago. What those artists besides being classic artists is that their safe (Prince to some degree) and meant for an older generation. Unlike Beyonce who is a current artist in her prime.
So that brings to this question. Will a hip hop artist ever headline the Super Bowl halftime show? Hip hop artists have performed during the half time show but never the headliner. Nelly, Diddy, Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green, M.I.A. have all shared the stage with other non hip hop performers. So it’s not like hip hop music is foreign to the show. Maybe with the succuss of Beyonce this will open up the eyes of television execs to other modern performers such hip hop artists. Although I think it will never happen and Twitter will go into melt down mode if Kanye and his skirt show up again. I think it’s a interesting to discuss which rappers could possibly hold down a Super Bowl half time show.
Kanye West: Possibly the best rapper suited for a halftime show. He has everything you could ask for in a performer: stadium status songs, stage presence and he would have the best set design out of any Super Bowl performer. His most popular songs combine a perfect blend of melody and edge. Do I even have to mention the mask? The only drawback is that he’s to much of a love him or hate him figure for the mainstream public. His public persona whether right or wrong/good or bad is what people think when Kanye comes to mind, not the best rap artist of a generation.
Jay-Z: Much like Kanye he has the stadium status songs to pull off a SB halftime show and he’s already proven he can control a massive crowd. Remember his Glastonbury 2008 performance? “P.S.A” and “99 Problems” would bring the house down. “Empire State of Mind” would be a perfect fit for next year’s SB in NY/NJ. Although he’s become a cultural figure, I don’t think his music catalogue has the mass appeal of someone like Kanye but for a twelve minute performance maybe it shouldn’t matter. Maybe The Throne could headline together.
Eminem: I could imagine Eminem getting the nod over Ye & Jay in like ten years. He’s probably more popular than Ye & Jay but I don’t think he has the amount stadium status songs like The Throne. He’s an excellent performer and songs such as “Lose Yourself” “Not Afraid” and “Beautiful” would play well in front of a large crowd. Also people generally like him, he’s come a long way since being the pop culture instigator of the early 2000′s. He should perform someday.
Pitbull & Flo Rida: Generally I’m not a fan of these two and I know it’s crazy but hear me out. Who has more club bangers than these two in past years? They would definitely be current rappers that could deliver pop/hip-hop hits to a large audience. I would question their performance ability. I don’t think they could deliver a spectacle like the other rappers I’ve mentioned already. You just know some television exec is thinking about it. I would bet one of these two performs at a SB halftime show someday in the next five years, that’s if they don’t become irrelevant. For my sake I hope it doesn’t happen but you never know.
Lil Wayne: Nah, never in a million years despite his mainstream success. Would you really want to see Wayne and Lil whoever running around the SB halftime stage? Me either.