It should have been amazing.
In these troubled and divisive times, it seemed there was one thing the Internet could come together and agree on: Maroon 5 should totally perform "Sweet Victory" from the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks" at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show.
In late 2018, the death of SpongeBob's creator Stephen Hillenburg united generations in mourning. Coming just weeks after Stan Lee's passing, it really felt like parts of our childhoods were dying. What would be the best way to pay tribute to the marine biologist-turned-cartoonist whose creation brought endless joy to kids, parents, stoners and meme-makers alike for two decades? A tribute at one of the biggest television events of the year, of course, and over 1.2 million Change.org petition signees agreed. A "Sweet Victory" performance at the Super Bowl would be the greatest tribute on the biggest possible stage.
For a time, it genuinely seemed like the power of fandom was going to make something amazing happen. On January 13, Maroon 5 released a hype video for their halftime performance, including a clip from SpongeBob, clear evidence the band were aware of the popular petition. Later, Squidward voice actor Rodger Bumpass revealed in a private Facebook post he had actually recorded dialogue for the halftime show. Every sign pointed to "Sweet Victory."
Alas, it was all a cruel, cruel tease, a tease that continued into the halftime show itself.
Squidward did make an appearance, in a clip of him introducing Travis Scott and conducting the Bikini Bottom Band. Was Travis Scott about to do "Sweet Victory"? No. Maybe Maroon 5 was saving the song for later in their act? Were the musical acts (Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi) gonna perform together in a big tribute to Hillenburg? No, they weren't. All that hype turned out to be for nothing.
Our dreams of "Sweet Victory" turned into tears of bitter defeat.
Fans, as you would expect, quickly expressed their displeasure on Twitter:
That 5 second Spongebob cameo vs the rest of the halftime show. pic.twitter.com/eaXPco9Njx— Kofie Banks in a secret agent outfit (@KofieYeboah) February 4, 2019
You could argue that any sort of tribute to Hillenburg and SpongeBob, even one lacking "Sweet Victory," was a positive moment. Considering the massive fan campaign and the constant teasing, though, the lack of "Sweet Victory" is a bummer, and fans can't help but feel a little bit played. Let's be honest, after all; Maroon 5 was far from the most exciting choice for a halftime headliner. Many people were hyped, however, to see them, or anyone, performing "Sweet Victory."
Making matters worse, however, is how the band disingenuously fed off of the excitement the Change.org petition created. To play off the hopes of over 1.2 million SpongeBob fans for attention, only to not actually pay it off as they'd all but promised is far more annoying, and, frankly, insulting than if Maroon 5 had never even acknowledged the fan petition in the first place.