Even Spongebob and a shirtless Adam Levine couldn’t save last night’s halftime show. Taking the stage for the Pepsi halftime show at Superbowl LIII, Maroon 5 was walking into an swarm of already-angry viewers – and their lackluster performance didn’t help much. After being criticized for taking the gig amidst political controversy with the NFL and Colin Kaepernick‘s blacklisting (after stars like Cardi B and Rihanna passed on the opportunity for that very reason), Maroon 5 took to the stage Sunday, seemingly without much of a plan.

In their 13-minute set, the band played a smattering of their biggest hits, including “This Love,” “Girls Like You,” “She Will Be Loved,” “Sugar,” and “Moves Like Jagger.” Frontman Levine awkwardly bounced around on stage (really, why didn’t anyone give that man some choreography?) and  appearances from black artists Travis Scott and Big Boi looked like desperate attempts to save face after accepting the controversial gig. The band switched from song to song without much of a transition, making the entire set seem drawn out and, quite frankly, boring. And Twitter was quick to criticize.


In a tweet that has been shared more than 7,000 times, the satiric newspaper The Onion wrote, “Super Bowl Halftime Show Marred By Functioning Sound System. Meanwhile, reports poured in calling the show the “dullest halftime show of all time,” and The New York Times claimed that Maroon 5 “barely left a mark.”

Many were especially critical of Levine’s choice to remove his tank top toward the end of his set, a move that seemed to illustrate the NFL’s double standard when comparing the episode to the infamous 2004 Super Bowl performance when Janet Jackson‘s wardrobe malfunction had her blacklisted from a number of broadcast channels and radio stations. In a tweet, actor Abigail Breslin said, “it’s messed up that society seems it acceptable for him to be shirtless during the halftime show and Janet Jackson was chastised because her breast was accidentally exposed at the same event.” Another Twitter user picked up on the same discrepancy, tweeting: “Suer Bowl halftime nipples rules feel inconsistent.”

But most fans were just upset at the lackluster performance, and particularly at the irrelevant and all-too-short SpongeBob cameo that occurred toward the beginning of the show, in response to fan requests for the Super Bowl to honor the late SpongeBob creator, Stephen Hillenburg, who died earlier this year. “Maroon V let me down,” said one Twitter user, accompanied by a picture from the hit TV show. Another compared Levine’s boring performance to the great halftime shows performed by Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.


Levine took to Instagram late Sunday night to explain one part of the show (those lanterns that didn’t really do anything), and his post alluded to the harsh criticism his performance was getting. “When we accepted the responsibility to perform at the SBHTS, I took out my pen and just wrote. Some of the words that came to me in that moment eventually made their way onto the incredible lanterns that flew high and low tonight. We thank the universe for this historic opportunity to play on the world’s biggest stage,” he said. “We thank our fans for making our dreams possible. And we thank our critics for always pushing us to do better.”


Watch the full Halftime Show here:

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