The controversy surrounding Maroon 5's performance at the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show initially "spoiled" the dream gig for keyboardist PJ Morton.
The Girls Like You hitmakers, fronted by Adam Levine, faced a backlash last September (18) when they were first rumoured to have landed the coveted slot at the Atlanta, Georgia sporting extravaganza, with many fans arguing that officials at the National Football League (NFL) should have tapped a hometown hero from the culturally-rich city to play the 3 February (19) show.
Others took issue with Maroon 5 for signing on to the high-profile concert instead of snubbing the event like Rihanna reportedly had to protest the treatment of American football star Colin Kaepernick, who claims he has been frozen out of the NFL since 2017 over his decision to kneel during the pre-game U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
The public reaction to the Super Bowl Halftime Show announcement, which was made official on Sunday (13Jan19), cast a shadow over the group's huge opportunity, but bandmate Morton insists they have since overcome the negativity to look forward to putting on a show for viewers with special guests Travis Scott and Big Boi.
Asked if the backlash had spoiled what would typically be a career highlight for an artist, Morton told The Associated Press, "It definitely did at first. It spoiled it for me because you just want to be happy and excited to play, and some of the negativity definitely made it not as fun initially."
The musician, who is African-American, reveals he faced an internal "conflict" about working for the NFL in light of the continued Kaepernick scandal, and it's not something his bandmates took "lightly" either.
"I guess I had to come to the conclusion that you can be employed by a corporation and still support the things that are being fought against," he explained. "I can clearly say I am against police brutality against black and brown people at a higher rate, and I am for peacefully protesting. I stand for those things strongly... I think we can perform for the NFL and the players can play for the NFL, and we can support Kap at the same time."
Now the news is officially out, Morton is just excited about checking a lifelong goal off his bucket list: "This is definitely a controversial year, but it's something I've wanted to do my whole life," he said. "As a musician, it's the biggest stage you could ever play."
"Our job as musicians is to provide a service and make people feel good, and I think that's going to be our mission - just to have a good time and do what we do," he added. "I'm excited to play on that stage, man. I watched halftime shows my whole life. I want to be there."
Justin Timberlake headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show last year (18).