In a self-protective move we can only describe as “punitively prudent,” the members of Maroon 5 have canceled the traditional Super Bowl half-time show headliner press conference, the one time in recent memory that there was any chance of this usually rote discussion actually turning out to be interesting to watch. Although they didn’t make a public statement about the cancellation, Billboard—and, really, anybody who’s been keeping half an eye on the live-wire discourse surrounding this year’s half-time show—speculates that the band is looking to dodge awkward questions about the league’s handling of former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, and also the Nickelodeon cartoon character Squidward Tentacles, because welcome to 2019, babies: It’s weird out here.
To be fair, we can’t imagine that the members of Maroon 5 joined Maroon 5 because they wanted to be influential voices about anything, up to and including the musical work of American funk rock combination Maroon 5. Nevertheless, they’ve found themselves gently nudged toward the third rail of addressing Kaepernick (and many other players’) polarizing protests over the last few years, which saw the players threaten the fundamental fabric of American society by failing to stand at full attention during the national anthem, just because America still suffers from a legacy of systemic racism that kills black people and members of other minorities in depressingly disproportionate amounts. Kaepernick has alleged that he was blacklisted by NFL owners for daring to speak up, and a number of artists—including JAY-Z and Rihanna—reportedly turned the half-time job down, either this year or the year before, even supposedly encouraging other artists to follow suit. The NFL eventually settled on Maroon 5, whose single with Cardi B, “Girls Like You,” is currently resting near the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, to take on the job. (Cardi’s reportedly skipping the show, but Travis Scott and Big Boi are both expected to appear.)
Meanwhile, internet people are still extremely insistent that the band also do some kind of tribute to a SpongeBob SquarePants song, both in honor of the death of the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, last year, and also just because internet people love being weirdly pushy about very stupid things. (Obviously, this issue seems a lot more likely to actually be addressed at the half-time show itself, at least according to rumors and hints swirling around the event.) In any case, Maroon 5—which also made a $500,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America this week, which is legitimately awesome and to be applauded—has crooned its piece; according to the NFL, “The artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday.”