Super Bowl 2019 halftime show: Nipples, Big Boi and Spongebob overshadow Maroon 5

Adam Levine gets roasted but the Super Bowl halftime show leaves fans cold.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
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If you thought the incredibly low-scoring game of sport taking place during Super Bowl 53 was a bit of a snooze-fest, then you might have hoped the halftime show would save you.

While the Patriots and the Rams were locked up at 3 points to 0, many looked to the halftime show like Marie Kondo looks to well-folded linen: They were searching for something to bring them joy.

The halftime show lineup was extensive: Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi, a potential guest appearance by SpongeBob Squarepants and any special guests as yet unannounced. That's the type of lineup that could save one of the lowest scoring halves in Super Bowl history. But would it?


It kicked off with Maroon 5, purveyors of radio rock classics like "This Love", "She Will Be Loved" and "What Lovers Do" (among other love-based songs) who led the halftime performance this year. Unfortunately, they couldn't quite capture the love of those watching around the world. The reactions were, you might say, "mixed" -- and the ire was directed at lead singer Adam Levine, who was copping it from all angles.

However, there was one yellow, rectangular constant. A shining light in the dark of halftime. A golden, smiling, laughing boy. A sweet victory in cartoon form. 

SpongeBob Squarepants.

The anthropomorphic sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea didn't get a long time to shine at halftime, but for the brief seconds he was on TV, there was much rejoicing. 

The arrival of SpongeBob heralded the appearance of Travis Scott, who busted out his now-classic "Sicko Mode", which some have noted is the Bohemian Rhapsody of our times. I'm not so sure we are ready for that.

Many were disappointed that the transition from SpongeBob was so quick and we were back into the real-life show, rather than a cartoon rendering. Others were just ready to roast Adam Levine again.

Next up was 50 percent of Atlanta's own OutKast, when Big Boi rolled in (in a Cadillac no less!) for his own brief stint on the microphone. Performing a few bars of OutKast's "The Way You Move", the rapper became another light in the dark -- but his time as King of the halftime show was also short-lived.

Considering all the controversy of Super Bowl halftime shows over the years, this one was relatively incident free. However, prior to the event, there were reports that big-name artists like Jay-Z and Rihanna had turned down performing, taking a stand in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to highlight social justice issues.

After Beyonce tore the house and neighboring suburbs down with her performance in 2016 and Lady Gaga dived off a building in 2017, there was a lot for Maroon 5 to live up to, sure. And to top it all off, Adam Levine went topless, but that only raised a whole host of new issues.

Others questioned the move to release the nipples on live TV after a very similar incident in a previous Super Bowl was deemed unsavoury. Well, similar in that another nipple was almost-sort-of on display, after Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson's breast during the halftime show in 2004.

Still, some liked Levine's shirt off, better than on, considering his shirt did look like a pillow.

After the halftime show, the football resumed with the Patriots and Rams locked at 3-0. The Patriots would end up being victorious, with Tom Brady earning himself his sixth Super Bowl victory, 13-3. A good way to sum it all up then? The halftime show in 2019 was certainly not worthy of the GOAT.

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