On Sunday, tens of hundreds of rabid soccer followers will descend upon Atlanta for Tremendous Bowl LIII. They may eat a lot of alcohol. They’ll paint their faces. They may scream and howl because the Patriots and Rams interact in brutal 22-man warfare with the very best potential stakes. Oh, and about two hours into this, they may all pause every part to observe a 12-minute Maroon 5 live performance.
The Tremendous Bowl halftime present has grow to be the spectacle inside the spectacle. It was filler leisure whereas the gamers hydrated and tended to their wounds. Now it serves a better function. It’s about world peace, pleasure, introspection and even grief. It’s additionally typically about big metallic lion puppets and dancing sharks.
How are we to interpret these hopelessly foolish, desperately hopeful rituals? By rating them, in fact. At FiveThirtyEight, we don’t have the know-how to make slideshows, however we do have math and a historical past of making use of convoluted methodologies to questions that don’t actually need solutions. So let’s get began.
First, we have to handle expectations: We aren’t rating halftime performances, fairly the sheer star energy that the NFL assembled on stage annually. We’ll speak about how the exhibits went, however solely in relation to their artists’ success on the Billboard Scorching 100 chart earlier than the Tremendous Bowl. Our methodology favors exhibits with many artists as a result of they’re extra more likely to excite an viewers numerous in age and musical pursuits. Purists might have loved the simplicity of seeing The Who carry out with none interlopers in 2010, however anybody who wasn’t excited by a number of 60-something British rockers enjoying their decades-old hits was left with bupkis.
We selected Michael Jackson’s 1993 halftime look as the start line for our evaluation. His efficiency — extensively thought-about among the best — is the start of the fashionable halftime present. Viewer scores for the 1993 present exceeded scores for the precise recreation, and a blueprint was shaped for years forward. To get a way of how MJ modified the sport, observe that the earlier yr’s present included a salute to the 1992 Winter Olympics and a bunch of youngsters performing a rap association of “Frosty the Snowman.”
To measure the success of the featured artists — excluding cameos from the likes of Jessica Simpson, who kicked off the 2004 present by asking the viewers to “select to get together” — we created a metric referred to as Performer Factors. Our methodology for calculating these factors is straightforward:
- Artists are assigned factors for every of their songs to make the Billboard Scorching 100 listing because the record started in August 1958.
- A music showing at No. 1 is value 100 factors.
- A track at No. 100 is value 1 level.
- We rely every week individually, so songs rack up factors for staying on the chart.
- Performers listed as the primary artist on a monitor get full credit score.
- Featured artists or visitor vocalists get solely one-third of the track’s factors.
- Performers get one-third of the factors from their former band’s hits. Meaning Paul McCartney will get solely a small increase from hits by the Beatles. The weights compound, so if an artist’s former band was merely featured on a music, the artist will get one-ninth of the music’s factors.
If any of that appears complicated, let’s take a look at an instance that includes one in every of this yr’s performers, Atlanta rapper Massive Boi.
Once we add up all of the factors, we will see how profitable the artists have been for each Tremendous Bowl. Right here’s what that appears like for the 2019 halftime performers.
Tremendous Bowl LIII nets a good 65,065 complete Performer Factors. That’s seventh on our record of greatest Tremendous Bowl lineups since 1993. We’ll see whether or not that interprets to a memorable present on Sunday, however the previous 5 years might give us a way of whether or not our methodology has any predictive energy.
It’s straightforward to dunk on the Black Eyed Peas, and their uninspiring halftime present in 2011 didn’t make it any more durable. Fergie, will.i.am, Taboo (!) and apl.de.ap (!!) closed out their headlining set with “The place Is the Love?” on an enormous stage formed like, you guessed it, the phrase “Love.” The one drawback was that a part of the letter “v” was actually lacking. Now a minimum of we now have some knowledge to again up what everybody was considering the subsequent day: Usher ought to have headlined. By 2011, he had already reached Billboard’s prime 10 with 14 tracks, together with classics resembling “My Boo” and “U Remind Me.” Usher went into the halftime present with virtually twice as many Performer Factors because the Peas, and although he carried out considered one of his weaker hits, “OMG,” he nonetheless managed to hit each cue, leaping over will.i.am’s head and into our hearts.
I’ve a confession: I’ve all the time considered the 2012 halftime present as “the one with Nicki Minaj.” Wanting on the chart, it’s clear there’s recency bias at work — Minaj has develop into unavoidable since 2012. However on the time of the Tremendous Bowl, her solely prime 10 hit was “Tremendous Bass.” Madonna, then again, stands on prime of our particular person energy rankings with greater than 59,000 Performer Factors, because of her trove of hits courting again to the 1980s. Credit score to Madge for nearly single-handedly dragging this riot of grecian beefcakes and vogueing into the highest 5 — Katy Perry and Woman Gaga might by no means.
I’m glad to see our components isn’t completely set on choosing exhibits from the previous 10 years. The “Salute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary” in 1998 had all of the intergenerational attraction that Madonna’s present was imagined to seize. The choreography appears just a little hokey by as we speak’s requirements, however I might take heed to this medley all day. Queen Latifah brings it, The Temptations sound unbelievable, Boyz II Males will get a strong ballad in, Smokey covers all of the previous bases and Martha Reeves is so harmlessly, indescribably terrible which you could’t assist however smile understanding that social media didn’t exist again then.
Tremendous Bowl L — er, 50 — was billed as Coldplay’s efficiency, however the NFL let halftime present veterans Beyoncé and Bruno Mars “crash” it. This was a blessing for anybody not named Chris Martin. Each visitor stars had extra Performer Factors than Coldplay, they usually stomped away with the present. Beyoncé, wearing a black leather-based homage to the Black Panthers, debuted “Formation” proper there on the sector and reminded us of simply how highly effective this 12-minute musical interlude may be.
We didn’t tweak the weights to get Nipplegate this excessive up, I promise. You’ll be able to see on the chart why it’s such a superb present. Janet Jackson was an applicable headline decide, each in size of profession and quantity of hits. Nelly and P. Diddy have been established emissaries from the rap style, which the Tremendous Bowl has not often invited on stage. Justin Timberlake had teenybopper loyalty from his *NSYNC days and a brand new, prurient edge as a solo artist. And Child Rock was … additionally there. In fact, no one remembers something about this present aside from the phrases “wardrobe malfunction,” and I don’t assume any chart might change that, so let’s depart issues there.
You might be questioning the place your favourite halftime present falls on the record. As we talked about above, it’s a tough measure of the thrill individuals may need felt earlier than the present started — Prince could also be the most effective performer ever to take the halftime stage, however should you weren’t a fan, then there wasn’t a lot to anticipate. On the chart under, you possibly can see how all of the artists examine.
All the info we scraped additionally permits us to reply one remaining query: Which artists ought to the Tremendous Bowl attain out to for the 2020 present? Assuming the league is aiming to please a variety of viewers, we will seize the highest 10 artists by Performer Factors for every decade since 1990, in addition to from the previous two years for the Gen Z viewers.
Drafting a Tremendous Bowl halftime present fantasy lineup
Artists with probably the most Performer Factors, by decade
|three||Boyz II Males||Ludacris||Nicki Minaj||Cardi B|
|four||Whitney Houston||Kanye West||Taylor Swift||Kendrick Lamar|
|5||Janet Jackson||P!nk||Bruno Mars||Khalid|
|6||Celine Dion||Usher||Maroon 5||Ed Sheeran|
|7||R. Kelly||Rihanna||Katy Perry||Migos|
|eight||TLC||50 Cent||Chris Brown||Think about Dragons|
|9||Elton John||Nickelback||Lil Wayne||Bruno Mars|
|10||Toni Braxton||Alicia Keys||Justin Bieber||Halsey|
Grey textual content signifies that the artist has already carried out at a halftime present, that the artist has died or that a member of the group has died.
In contrast to in the remainder of the evaluation, factors earned as a member of a musical group don’t rely towards an artist’s particular person factors.
Drake can be the most important get right here for the NFL. Beginning in Might 2009, Drizzy held a spot someplace on the Scorching 100 for 430 weeks straight. Since 2010, he’s amassed 83,898 Performer Factors. The closest runner-up in that desk is Rihanna, who collected 48,153 factors throughout the identical interval. If halftime producers haven’t already approached Drake, they’re sleeping on him.
It’s unimaginable to know who on our listing has talked with the NFL. Stars are not often as open about Tremendous Bowl negotiations as Cardi B was this yr, when certainly one of her representatives informed Web page 6 that “she was not notably considering collaborating due to how she feels about Colin Kaepernick and the entire motion.” (Rihanna additionally reportedly declined to carry out due to her help of Kaepernick.) Taylor Swift, as an example, looks like an apparent candidate. However she has shilled for Coca-Cola — a relationship that could possibly be in danger if she have been to carry out within the halftime present that Pepsi has sponsored for seven years operating.
Whomever the NFL picks subsequent yr, the strain is on. Asking Maroon 5 to headline a present in Atlanta, a metropolis abounding in gifted rappers (Massive Boi is the one homegrown artist on the invoice), resulted in a social media backlash, and a petition with greater than 100,000 signatures has urged the band to drop out to exhibit solidarity with Kaepernick. USA Immediately even went as far as to publish an obituary for the halftime present as a cultural establishment.
That appears a bit of untimely to me. The Tremendous Bowl has advanced earlier than and will do it once more. What was a spread present writ giant, with inscrutable themes, Elvis impersonators and card tips ultimately embraced the market-certified success of singers like Michael Jackson and *NSYNC. The collective shrugs following picks like Coldplay, Justin Timberlake and Maroon 5, which has the second most Performer Factors of any artist on our record, might herald the top of that period. The league has clearly taken word of this yr’s controversy, saying that the pregame press convention with Maroon 5 wouldn’t happen in order that the artists might concentrate on their efficiency. What may come subsequent for the halftime present is anyone’s guess, however one factor’s for sure: Everybody will probably be watching.
All pictures courtesy of Getty.