When the NFL announced at midnight ET that Apple Music is 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 her new music at midnight (er, like 99% of all major artists in the streaming age) and her new album is called ‘Midnights’.
Without disrespect to the Swifties, there are actually many more tangible reasons why Swift seems like a likely frontrunner for the Super Bowl Halftime Show – which, with an estimated 103 million viewers this year, is the largest platform for a music artist in the entire world.
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First, “Midnights” falls on October 21 — and will almost inevitably be followed by a big tour. Swift was set to do a major worldwide stadium tour in 2020 in support of her 2019 album ‘Lover’. Obviously, due to the pandemic, it was limited to a single tentative performance in Paris in September 2019, “City of Lover”, which aired. on UKTN and her last live performance remains. Notably, “Midnights” will be the sixth album Swift will have released in just over three years: it joins “Lover,” her two pandemic-era albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” and her two re-recordings of “Taylor’s Version”. of “Red” and “Fearless” – the rights to which, along with her four other pre-“Lover” albums, were sold in Scooter Braun’s controversial acquisition of the Big Machine Records catalog. Needless to say, she has a lot of material to air.
All of this ties into the fact that the Super Bowl is more often than not used as a teaser for a big tour.
But a less obvious reason lies in the Apple Music announcement — or rather, the fact that Pepsi announced it wouldn’t renew its decade-long sponsorship of the Halftime show this year. The sponsorship began in 2013 — the same year Swift entered into a long-standing partnership with Pepsi’s decades-long arch-rival Coca-Cola. Although sources reported that Swift’s deal with Coke banned her from playing a Pepsi-sponsored Halftime show, whether or not she did, it would have been inconvenient. (Of course, in 2015, Swift had criticized the then-new streaming service for not paying royalties for music played in trials, but it quickly changed policy and was even the exclusive streaming platform for its music until 2017.)
Finally, there’s a more complex matter: After years of criticism of its handling of race-related issues that culminated with Colin Kaepernick’s effective banishment from professional football, the National Football League went to great lengths to change the narrative by protracted to partner in 2019 with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation organization on entertainment – including the halftime show. The past three years have seen artists of color almost exclusively: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020), the Weeknd (2021), and this year’s classic hip-hop extravaganza, led by Dr. Dre and featuring Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent, featuring Anderson .Paak on drums. While Swift is clearly a white woman, the past three years have come a long way in addressing the issue, and it seems possible she could bring in artists of color to join her (though we’re not holding our breath waiting for Kendrick Lamar to repeat his performance on Swift’s “Bad Blood” remix).
And finally, three sources close to the situation tell: Variety that it happens.
Representatives from Swift, Roc Nation and the NFL did not immediately respond Variety‘s requests for comment.
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