Taylor, Rihanna, Harry: 15 artists who should play Super Bowl halftime

These stars are ready (or in some cases, overdue) to hit the biggest stage in entertainment

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Performing at halftime of the Super Bowl is a feather in the cap of any artist, a career peak acknowledging that, across the board, they’ve made the big time.

Following the Weeknd’s performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl, who should be next? Here’s a list of performers who have not yet gotten the Super Bowl call, but should.

Taylor Swift performance with Charli XCX and Camila Cabello at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on August 28, 2018.

Taylor Swift: She’s got the hits, she’s played stadiums for years, so how come Taylor Swift hasn’t played the Super Bowl? It comes down to sponsorships: The halftime show is produced by Pepsi, and Taylor has a deal with Diet Coke. Pepsi is sponsoring the show through at least next year, so Taylor might get her chance in 2023. Until then, she’ll be sitting on the sidelines.

Rihanna: She’s got 14 number one hits and her profile has only grown since she released her last album, “ANTI,” five years ago. She’s due for a big comeback, but the Super Bowl seems an unlikely forum, since she slammed the NFL in 2019 after allegedly turning down an offer to perform at halftime, telling Vogue, “there’s things within (the NFL) that I do not agree with at all,” saying she’d be a “sellout” and an “enabler” by being a part of their show. That was before Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Rihanna’s management firm, entered into a long-term partnership with the NFL to amplify the league’s social injustice initiatives, which could change things, but for the moment, this seems like a long shot. Too bad.   

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2015, file photo, Rihanna performs at the 2015 We Can Survive Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles. Spotify announced its end-of-the-year list Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, and said Drake was the most streamed artist of the year globally, earning 1.8 billion streams in 2015. Rihanna was the year’s most streamed female performer with 1 billion streams, while Major Lazer’s ubiquitous hit, “Lean On,” was the most streamed song of the year with 540 million streams. (Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File)

Garth Brooks: The country megastar was on his (long overdue) first-ever stadium tour when COVID-19 hit and shut down the live touring industry. He’s far from the cool choice, but Garth brings people together, and has enough material in his arsenal to deliver a feel-good, hit-packed performance for the masses.  

Garth Brooks performs at Ford Field on February 22, 2020 in Detroit.

Drake: The Canadian rapper aims to please – you saw his State Farm commercial, right? – and the dude has notched more than 100 Top 40 hits while selling out arenas for the better part of the last decade. So yeah, it’s safe to say he can fill 13 minutes of airtime on the Super Bowl.

Drake performs onstage in Toronto in 2016.

Harry Styles: With his second solo album “Fine Line,” which featured the smash hit “Watermelon Sugar” as well as “Adore You,” Styles graduated from boy band ex-pat to legit superstar in his own right. The Super Bowl would be silly not to scoop him up ASAP (which could start rumors of an on-stage One Direction reunion, which would fuel social media hysteria for months).

Harry Styles at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

A few more worth considering...

Stevie Wonder: The 70-year-old living legend performed at halftime in 1999, in a show that also featured Gloria Estefan and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Yes, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. For that insult alone, Wonder deserves his own solo show. 

Stevie Wonder performs Love's In Need Of Love Today for the crowd during his concert at Joe Louis Arena.  Photo taken on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 in Detroit, Mich.  (Jose Juarez/Special to The Detroit News)

Ed Sheeran: He’s a solo star who, all by his lonesome, can carry a stadium show, and he’s notched five songs that have surpassed 1 billion streams on Spotify. Sign him up.  

Foo Fighters: The last alt-rockers standing seem like the only band still interested in going big instead of going home, and since Prince already did “Best of You” on the Super Bowl stage, Dave Grohl and company need to repay the favor.  

Billie Eilish: The 19-year-old would be an edgy choice, but if the NFL wants to tap into youth appeal and the sound of the future, here it is. 

Eminem: The Detroit rapper is past his controversial phase, and he’s got enough sports anthems (“Till I Collapse,” “Higher”) and self-empowerment songs (“Not Afraid,” “Lose Yourself”) to turn in a rousing performance without dipping into anything that would make the league (or parents watching at home) squeamish.

Eminem performs "Lose Yourself" at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Jay-Z: His affiliation with the NFL would make it seem like an inside job, but 25 years after his debut album he's amassed a catalog of smash hits and proven himself to be one of hip-hop's top live performers. And a cameo from Beyoncé would never hurt. 

Elton John: He should have played when the halftime show was in its classic rock period — he would have been a great substitute for The Who, in 2010 — but why not add one more date to his farewell tour and make it at the Super Bowl?

Miley Cyrus: She was relegated to pre-show duties during Sunday's show, but if she reconnects with hit songs, the halftime show is hers for the taking. 

Miley Cyrus fronts Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz Saturday at the Fillmore Detroit.

Queen and Adam Lambert: The time to do it would have been right after "Bohemian Rhapsody" hit screens, but if you want stadium rock, here it is. 

Pink: It would be worth it for the acrobatics alone.