Who should play the halftime show when Super Bowl 2023 returns to Arizona?

Now that the Super Bowl is over, we can safely shift our focus to important issues of the day — like next year's Super Bowl, which as it happens, brings the NFL to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

As you may recall, the last time we hosted a Super Bowl, football fans famously witnessed the birth of an NFL legend — Left Shark! — during Katy Perry's performance (the most-viewed halftime show in broadcast history).

How can the NFL hope to compete with a memory so vividly etched in the public imagination as that?

As it turns out, we've given the matter some thought (so you don't have to). And we've come up with a shortlist of potential halftime entertainers.

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As to whether they can rise to the occasion with a Left Shark of their own? That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, if you know someone who chooses halftime entertainers for the Super Bowl, it would awesome if you shared a link to our suggestions.

Will she or won't she? Did Taylor Swift turn down the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show in Arizona?

Taylor Swift

It could be argued that she doesn't need the Super Bowl. In fact, it would be kind of weird to argue that she does.

But if she did agree to play the world's most coveted exposure gig? We'd get one of the biggest pop stars on the planet while still in her prime.

She's 32 and shows no sign of slowing down.

In this May 8, 2018, file photo, Taylor Swift performs during her "Reputation Stadium Tour" opener in Glendale.
In this May 8, 2018, file photo, Taylor Swift performs during her "Reputation Stadium Tour" opener in Glendale.

Her latest studio release of new material, 2020's "Evermore," became the singer's eighth consecutive release to top the Billboard album charts. She's sent two re-recorded albums to the top since then.

And she's still adding major pop hits to the list of songs that could be turned into a massive halftime hit parade, including two chart-topping songs released in 2020 ("Cardigan" and "Willow").

Plus, she has a history at State Farm Stadium, having launched her first stadium tour there in support of "Reputation" in 2018.

And that's not her only connection to the Valley of the Sun. She topped iTunes in 2012 with a heartbreaking tribute to a Phoenix boy named Ronan Thompson, who died of cancer three days shy of turning 4.

She could also invite Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World to the world's biggest stage to sing his biggest hit, "The Middle," like she did that time at an arena show in Glendale. That would bring some local flavor to the mix.

Is it too soon to do a full retreat from hip-hop after this year's halftime show? No problem. Kendrick Lamar could revisit his guest rap on "Bad Blood," a chart-topping smash from 2015. 

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Stevie Nicks or Alice Cooper?

It's been 12 years since a veteran rock act played the Super Bowl. I blame The Who, one of the greatest live acts in the history of the sport, for what we'll charitably call "an off night."

Is it still too soon to try again?

If not, here's hoping they'll consider two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers with deep local roots.

Stevie Nicks was born in Phoenix and built a home near her parents in Paradise Valley in 1981, the same year "Bella Donna," topped the Billboard album charts while spinning off a handful of her greatest hits, including "Edge of Seventeen" and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," a duet with Tom Petty.

In addition to her solo hits, a halftime show with Nicks could feature songs made popular by Fleetwood Mac, including her iconic contribution to the "Rumours" album, "Dreams."

That song gave Fleetwood Mac their first and only No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and went viral much more recently on TikTok, thanks to Nathan Apodaca skateboarding to fame while chugging a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice and listening to "Dreams."

She's the classic rocker most likely to have Harry Styles come out and join her on a song.

And "Rumours" is somehow still selling like hot cakes.

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That gives Nicks a timeless and cross-generational appeal that few artists who launched their career in the '70s could hope to challenge.

Cooper made his first onstage appearance in the Cortez High School cafetorium, going on to become one of the biggest rock stars of the '70s with a band made up entirely of friends he'd made in Phoenix (two of whom were also on the stage that day at Cortez).

He also lives here now and operates two Alice Cooper Solid Rock Teen Centers, offering free music, dance and art programs to kids aged 12-20.

His habit of staging his own execution as part of his live show could be a bit of a flag on the play.

But by the time he brought his halftime show to a raucous conclusion with "School's Out," who among us would begrudge the man a quick beheading on the 50-yard line?

More Arizona classics: 100 essential Arizona records, from Stevie Nicks to Alice Cooper

Rihanna

It's doubtful they'll give hip-hop center stage in 2023 so soon after finally allowing that to happen for the first time in NFL history just this year.

But having Rihanna do the honors would open the door to some intriguing hip-hop cameos, assuming Drake, Jay-Z, Eminem or Kanye West would agree to revisit their collaborations.

Rihanna wears jewelry purchased from Vintage by Misty in Scottsdale.
Rihanna wears jewelry purchased from Vintage by Misty in Scottsdale.

Named the wealthiest woman in music by Forbes magazine in 2021, Rihanna has sent 14 songs to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, from 2006's "SOS" to 2016's "Work" (that Drake collaboration).

There is a fairly decent chance she wouldn't want to do it. She declined to perform in 2020 in support of Colin Kaepernick following the controversy surrounding his role in the national anthem protests.

But it's been a minute since she's hit us with new music and a halftime show would be the perfect way to let the spotlight see what it's been missing for the past few years.

Drake

Speaking of Drake, it's kind of crazy that the man has yet to play the Super Bowl.

At 35, he has the most Top 10 appearances of all time on the Billboard Hot 100 and the most chart-topping singles on the Rap Songs and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.

It would mean hip-hop dominating halftime two years running but Drake is a much more pop-oriented performer than the stars of this year's show. He's also younger, so he hits a different demographic and cuts down on the memes about how old his fans must be.

Pink

She's one of the most successful touring artists of her generation for a reason.

And no one would turn in a more athletic halftime show than Pink, the singer most likely to bungee-jump into the stadium and spend the next 12 minutes soaring from one corner of the venue to another in an acrobatic rig.

She also has a ton of well-known pop hits and serious cross-generational appeal.

And has a history with the NFL, singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LII in 2018.

Reach the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Taylor Swift? Drake? Super Bowl halftime show picks for 2023 in Phoenix