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 will be the performer: The announcement was made at midnight, Taylor is releasing her new Music at Midnight (um, like 99% of all major artists in the streaming age) and their new album is called Midnights.
Without disrespect to the Swifties, there are actually many more tangible reasons why Swift appears to be a likely front-runner for the Super Bowl Halftime Show — which is the largest single platform for a music artist in the entire world, with an estimated 103 million viewers this year.
First of all, “Midnights” will be released on October 21st – and will almost inevitably be followed by a big tour. Swift was scheduled to do a major global stadium tour in 2020 in support of her 2019 album Lover. Apparently, due to the pandemic, it was limited to a single tentative performance in Paris in September 2019, “City of Lover,” which aired on ABC and remains their final live performance. Remarkably, Midnights will be the sixth album Swift has 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 were sold along with her four other albums prior to “Lover” as part of Scooter Braun’s controversial takeover of the Big Machine Records catalogue. Needless to say, she has a lot of material to air.
All of this ties in with the fact that more often than not, the Super Bowl is used as a teaser for a major tour.
A less obvious reason, however, lies in Apple Music’s announcement — or rather, the fact that Pepsi has announced it won’t be renewing its ten-year sponsorship of the halftime show this year. The sponsorship began in 2013 — the same year that Swift forged a long partnership with Pepsi’s decades-long arch-rival, Coca-Cola. While sources reported that Swift’s deal with Coke barred her from playing a Pepsi-sponsored halftime show, it would have been awkward whether it was or not. (Of course, there was criticism from Swift of the then-new streaming service in 2015 for the fact that it didn’t pay royalties for music played in trials, but it quickly changed policy and she later expressed her gratitude for the move to Vanity Fair: “Apple treated me like I was the voice of a creative community they really care about.”
Finally, there’s a more complex matter: After years of criticism for handling racial issues, culminating with Colin Kaepernick’s effective ban from professional football, the company went to great lengths to change the narrative by forging a long-term partnership in 2019 with Jay -Z’s organization Roc Nation on entertainment – including the halftime show. The last three years have seen almost exclusively black entertainers: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020), The Weeknd (2021), and this year’s multi-artist classic hip-hop extravaganza led by Dr. Dre and featuring Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent, with Anderson .Paak on drums. Though Swift is obviously a white woman, the past three years have gone a long way toward solving the problem, and it seems possible that she’s persuading cast members of color to join her (although we won’t hold our breath for Kendrick Lamar waiting to reprise his appearance in Swift’s “Bad Blood” remix).
And finally three sources close tell the situation diversity that it happens, although other close sources say it doesn’t.
Representatives from Swift, Roc Nation and the NFL did not immediately respond diversity‘s requests for comments.