Insiders Say This Is Why Country Stars Don’t Get Picked for Super Bowl Halftime
Members of the Nashville music industry are weighing in on why fans haven't seen a country star perform in the Super Bowl halftime show in nearly 20 years.
Shania Twain's performance alongside Sting and No Doubt in 2003 marked the last time a country star earned a coveted slot during the biggest sports event of the year, and voices from the country music community have offered insight into why this may be the case.
"It’s one of those bookings that's very, very difficult to pitch for because there are so many layers and so many people and you are never completely clear on what is going to push that particular act over the edge," John Zarling, former head of marketing at Sony Music Nashville, explains to Billboard. One undisclosed source notes that the NFL leans more toward acts they believe have international appeal, seeing other genres of music such as pop and rock drawing in that audience more than country.
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Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts and Brooks & Dunn have all tossed their hats into the ring, according to manager Clarence Spalding, none of whom have been made an offer by the NFL. He partially debunks the international theory, citing Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood as two superstar country acts who perform to international audiences.
Mike Betterton of Paradigm Talent Agency reveals they pitched Kenny Chesney for the Super Bowl halftime show throughout the late 2000s, but at that time, the NFL was more interested in booking classic rock acts.
"I think we got the message that it wasn’t going to happen. I think we just got tired of pursuing it. At the time, it mattered to Kenny and I think after a while it matters less and less. Sometimes you just get tired of pushing a rope," Betterton says. “If you figure that football is America’s game and country music is America’s music, you would think the two go hand-in-hand. The rest of the world has a certain fascination with America and might want to know what’s going on.”
Maroon 5 helmed the halftime show during the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta. A handful of country stars participated in festivities leading up to the big game, including Tim McGraw's performance during CBS' pregame show where he turned his hit "I Like It, I Love It" into a surprise duet with Kane Brown. Zac Brown Band also performed alongside the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl during their show at a Pandora Live event, as well as with the full band when the Foo Fighters headlined Super Saturday Night.
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