Super Bowl

Who will perform at Miami’s Super Bowl? There’s a push for Pitbull, but there are others

As soon as Maroon 5 stunk up the Super Bowl stage during its poorly received halftime performance Sunday in Atlanta, attention shifted to Super Bowl LIV, which is headed to Hard Rock Stadium in February 2020.

One name immediately — and overly obvious — came to mind among guests at Super Bowl watch parties still reeling from watching Adam Levine and his tattooed bare chest running through his pre-fab pop tunes:

Pitbull.

Of course, Pitbull should play a Super Bowl held in the 305.

One fan in Miami, J.P. Gutierrez, is so convinced Pitbull belongs on the halftime stage he’s created a Change.Org petition to prod the National Football League to make Mr. 305 its featured performer, NBC 6 reported.

“Pitbull is Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide. Pitbull needs to do the halftime show for Super Bowl 54 in Miami.,” Gutierrez wrote on his petition, which aims for 1,500 signatures. By Thursday afternoon, the petition topped 1,100 signatures.

On the site, Fabian Leal commented: “Mr. World Wide would be one of the best possible ways to represent the city of Miami. Having a Hispanic perform instead of a common pop singer would really get this city hype and pay homage to the richly diverse population.”

Pitbull, aka Armando Perez, has already contributed to the hype by lending his voice to a 2020 promo video for Super Bowl LIV. (What a fortuitous number, too, for Miami. LIV nightclub is a hotspot at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach.)

Now, there’s no rule that suggests the Super Bowl halftime performer has to match the host city. Maroon 5 hails from Los Angeles. Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, of the defunct hip-hop duo Outkast, was a guest on the halftime stage with Maroon 5, and he’s from Savannah, Georgia.

Miami acts at Miami Super Bowls

Where Miami is concerned, acts based in the South Florida region performed at a few Super Bowl halftime shows:

Super Bowl III featured Miami area high school bands, but Florida A&M University headlined at the 1969 bowl game at the now-gone Orange Bowl. FAMU also played on Prince’s stage at Super Bowl XLI at the Miami Gardens stadium in 2007. This was one of the greatest halftime shows but the late Prince, of course, was from Minneapolis.

South Florida-area dancers joined an Elvis Presley impersonator at Super Bowl XXIII at what is now Hard Rock Stadium in 1989.

Gloria Estefan and musicians from the Miami Sound Machine, along with Cuban-born musician Arturo Sandoval, were part of an Indiana Jones-themed spectacle featuring Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett produced by the Walt Disney Company at Super Bowl XXIV at the Miami Gardens stadium in 1995.

Estefan returned to the Super Bowl halftime stage in 1999 at XXXIII as part of a Latin, soul and swing extravaganza featuring Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Savion Glover.

If not Pitbull, who?

Now that we know the headliner act doesn’t have to hail from the Super Bowl host city, who could or should play Super Bowl LIV in 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium?

How about a country music superstar? Country music is an American phenom and football is a quintessential American game. And Hank Williams Jr. crooned the Monday Night Football opener “Are you ready for some football? So, why has country been mostly ignored? Is it because contemporary country music isn’t very good? But the country genre is certainly popular and most of its megastars put on lavish extravaganzas straight out of the old Kiss school of pop theater.

So let’s suggest names like Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and Jimmy Buffett.

And the Eagles.

Brooks’ fan base and live reputation dates back to 1989 so he can tap a huge viewing audience.

Chesney and his Key West-leaning country tunes, and Keith, who puts on big, macho stage spectacles, would seem sure bet favorites. Bryan has played in stadiums.

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Jimmy Buffett plays a concert in support of Gwen Graham, Aug. 23, 2018, at the Hollywood Arts Park Amphitheater. Michael Laughlin Sun Sentinel

And Buffett would be the best of both worlds — based in South Florida and world-renowned and a major influence on contemporary country acts like Chesney, Keith, Alan Jackson and so many more.

As for the Eagles, they fit the argument applied to country — the California group helped pioneer country-rock — and football’s shared Americana. The Eagles are the most commercially successful American band. And Buffett opening for the Eagles would fill a long-standing tradition dating back to the 1970s and including last April’s joint concert at Hard Rock Stadium.

Canadian Shania Twain was the last act to come out of the Nashville market to play the Super Bowl, in 2003 in San Diego. But her music was always closer to pop.

The last real country halftime show was Super Bowl XXVIII inside the Georgia Dome when Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds performed in 1994.

Moving out of country, contemporary R&B superstars like Cardi B, Rihanna and Drake would seem ideal. But unless things change in the next 12 months, don’t bet on these popular artists. That movement to address social injustice — and the boycott to stand in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick who knelt during the national anthem to raise awareness over police brutality and racial inequality — isn’t going anywhere.

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In this Dec. 7, 2018 file photo, hip-hop recording artist Cardi B performs at Z100’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball in New York. T Evan Agostini AP

Taylor Swift. No one, in any musical genre, approaches Swift’s command of a football field stage these days and the rare ability to make 60,000 or more fans sitting inside a bowl feel personally attended to by the star from the stage. If Swift hadn’t been overseas on her stellar Reputation Tour, we’d have to wonder what the NFL was thinking when they selected Maroon 5 for one of the world’s biggest audiences.

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Taylor Swift performing at a packed Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on her Reputation Tour on Aug. 18, 2019. Howard Cohen hcohen@miamiherald.com


Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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