Earlier this week, Mr. Suave himself Justin Timberlake was officially announced as the halftime performer for Super Bowl LII being held February 4th, 2018 in Minneapolis. Though many are using the announcement to relive the moment in 2004 when Timberlake instigated a national controversy and made the term “wardrobe malfunction” part of the American lexicon by exposing Janet Jackson’s breast, the next pertinent question should be who Timberlake will invite to perform with him.
It’s a shame that country performers never seem to even be considered for the Super Bowl halftime sweepstakes. Despite the ridiculous overproduction and pageantry of the annual performance, the simple fact is the Super Bowl is one of the biggest musical events all year and can create an incredible boost for an artist’s career. We saw that last year with Lady Gaga, who despite her already large name recognition, found a second wind for her career due to a well-received performance.
We can dream about someone like Sturgill Simpson being asked to perform with some nautical-themed spectacle to dovetail with his most recent album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, or even some hard country hero like Cody Jinks or Whitey Morgan taking the stage at the 50 yard line, but that’s very unlikely. Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood would be more practical names that could be considered, and not be as polarizing as the Bro-Country contenders like Luke Bryan or Florida Georgia Line. But for some reason, country music never seems to be in the running for the halftime performance.
However with Justin Timberlake performing this year, perhaps a country performer could slip in the back door. Just in case you’ve been living on Mars, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton are good buddies, and it was their collaboration on “Tennessee Whiskey” at the 2015 CMA Awards that sent Stapleton on his meteoric rise that he is still benefiting from. The duo performed together again this year in late September at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, TN. Chris Stapleton would be just about perfect as a guest performer as part of Timberlake’s Super Bowl bonanza since the two have worked together so well in the past. How about a Petty tribute, since Stapleton can sing Tom as good as any?
So give it some thought Timberlake, if the wheels aren’t already in motion. Give the fans of true country and good music in general a reason to tune into the Super Bowl halftime show in 2018, even if it’s just for a few minutes. That’d be much more entertaining that a few seconds in the audience of a nipple tassel.