When the NFL announced at midnight ET that Apple Music was the new sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the Swift-iverse went into overdrive speculating that Taylor Swift would be the performer: The announcement was made at midnight, Taylor releases his new music at midnight (uh, like 99% of all major artists in the streaming era) and his new album is called “Midnights”.
No disrespect to the Swifties, there are actually plenty of more tangible reasons why Swift seems like a likely favorite for the Super Bowl Halftime Show – which, with an estimated 103 million viewers this year, is the biggest platform for a musical artist. in the whole world.
First, “Midnights” drops on October 21 – and will almost inevitably be followed by a major tour. Swift was scheduled to do a major world stadium tour in 2020 in support of her 2019 album “Lover.” Obviously, due to the pandemic, he was limited to a single preliminary performance in Paris in September 2019, “City of Lover”, which aired on ABC and remains his last live performance. Remarkably, ‘Midnights’ will be Swift’s sixth album in just over three years: it joins ‘Lover’, her two pandemic-era albums ‘Folklore’ and ‘Evermore’, and her two re-recordings ‘Taylor’s Version’. . of “Red” and “Fearless” – the rights to which, along with his four other pre-“Lover” albums, were sold during Scooter Braun’s controversial acquisition of the Big Machine Records catalog. Needless to say, she has a lot of material to spread.
This all fits with the fact that the Super Bowl is most often used as a teaser for a big tour.
Yet a less obvious reason lies in Apple Music’s announcement — or rather, the fact that Pepsi announced it won’t be renewing its decade-long sponsorship of the Halftime show this year. The sponsorship began in 2013 – the same year Swift launched a long partnership with Coca-Cola, Pepsi’s arch-rival for decades. While sources reported that Swift’s deal with Coke barred her from performing on a Pepsi-sponsored halftime show, whether or not that was would have been awkward. (Of course, there was Swift’s 2015 criticism of the new streaming service for not paying royalties on music played in trial versions, but that quickly changed policy and was even the exclusive streaming platform for his music until 2017.)
Finally, there is a more complex issue: After years of criticism of its handling of race-related issues that culminated in the effective banishment of Colin Kaepernick from professional football, the made a big effort to change the narrative by concluding a long-term partnership in 2019 with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation organization on entertainment – including the halftime show. The past three years have featured artists of color almost exclusively: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020), The Weeknd (2021) and this year’s multi-artist classic hip-hop extravaganza, directed by Dr. Dre and featuring Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent, with Anderson .Paak on drums. While Swift is obviously a white woman, the past three years have gone a long way towards solving the problem, and it seems possible that she’ll bring in artists of color to join her (though we’re not holding our breath while we wait for Kendrick Lamar to reprise his performance on Swift’s “Bad Blood” remix).
And finally, three sources close to the situation tell Variety that’s happening.
Representatives for Swift, Roc Nation and the NFL did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comments.