If you had no knowledge of Maroon 5 and tuned into the Super Bowl halftime show last night, you’d have thought Adam Levine was a solo act. That’s a shame, especially since I’ve seen Maroon 5 live, and the only good part of the show is lead guitarist James Valentine. Mr. Valentine is the extremely well-dressed, long-haired gentleman who can play. He’s often lost in the shadows of Levine, who is less than generous to his band. When I saw them perform live at The Forum, his band was barely visible behind the ridiculous light show and stage placement. If you’re curious what it looks like when a lead singer is generous to his fellow musicians, go see Bruce Springsteen live. I realize that no one compares to The Boss, but given his performing prowess, one might expect that he too would steal the spotlight at the expense of his band — and he does the opposite.
Maroon 5’s decision to perform at the Super Bowl was shrouded in controversy given the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. I have no thoughts on whether it was the right decision to perform. It’s certainly their prerogative, and they were well aware of the push back. Rihanna and Cardi B showed solidarity with Kaepernick and publicly turned down the gig, while Big Boi, Travis Scott, and SpongeBob SquarePants did not. But given that controversy and the extremely diverse city of Atlanta, the Super Bowl felt a little too white. To quote USA Today:
“And while Maroon 5 managed to clear the hilariously low bar of not being the worst halftime show of all time, the fact that the performance was mostly comprised of generic pop music – and performed by white artists, including the inexplicably mostly white drum line – during a Super Bowl held in Atlanta, one of America’s most proudly diverse cities that also serves as the nexus of hip-hop culture, shows how misguided the choice of Maroon 5 was for this night.”
It’s also worth noting that Maroon 5 opened with hits from their first, most-loved record (‘Songs About Jane’), which was created when the band actually wrote their own music. In fact, almost the entire record was written by Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael. Carmichael plays keyboard and rhythm guitar for the band. In comparison, if you look up the writing credits on their latest album, ‘Red Pill Blues,’ there is well over twenty writers, none of which include Carmichael or anyone else in the band aside from Levine.
Finally, I must mention Levine’s choice to disrobe. Personally, I found it enraging on a multitude of levels. For starters, if Janet Jackson can’t show her nipples than neither can Adam Levine. I realize it’s not exactly the same thing, but if we’re talking about propriety and decorum, I’d like Levine to keep his shirt on. Second, it fully represents the aforementioned issue about him stealing the spotlight at the expense of his band. He is NOT a solo act. Lastly, Levine has gained weight. That’s okay, as I celebrate any and all bodies, but I resent the double standard often placed on women. If Lady Gaga can get a world of crap about her banging bod at HER incredible Super Bowl performance, then Levine should be held to the same standard. Judging by Twitter’s overwhelming celebration of his top-up nudity, women seem to be far more forgiving of men’s bodies than they are of women’s bodies. I’d just like it to be a little more equal.