When I heard Maroon 5 would be playing the Super Bowl halftime show, I suspected they would revive their early songs rather than their bigger hits over the past decade. In the second half of the 2010s, we have been in the same 5-year phase within a 15-year cultural excitement cycle as we were during the first half of the 2000s.
That is, the mellow, vulnerable phase that acts as a refractory or recovery period after a previous manic, invincible phase of rising and peak excitement. Next up will be the restless, warm-up phase when our excitement levels get back to baseline.
Sure enough, 3 of their 6 songs were from the first half of the 2000s ("Harder to Breathe," "This Love," "She Will Be Loved"), along with 1 from the late 2010s ("Girls Like You"), and just 2 from the first half of the 2010s ("Sugar," "Moves Like Jagger"), despite that 5-year period being packed with most of the hits of their entire career.
The guest rap songs were also either current hits ("Sicko Mode") or covers from the early 2000s ("The Way You Move"), with one from the late 2000s ("Kryptonite").
Hopefully the performance of "Girls Like You" with a full gospel choir during the Super Bowl will mark the turning point of the current emo phase. The wounded vulnerability levels are getting too much to bear, and that was so over-the-top, it may have given audiences the final dose of pop culture therapy that their #MeToo souls have been craving since 2015.
By next year, people will be getting over their torture porn, and start feeling restless again, as we enter a phase of neo-neo-neo-disco.