The CFL announced Wednesday that American pop band OneRepublic will headline the 2016 Grey Cup halftime show Nov. 27 at Toronto’s BMO Field, setting off the inevitable chorus of “Who’s that?”, “meh” and why?”
Someone called OneRepublic will play halftime at the Grey Cup. I would probably have an opinion about them, if I knew who they were
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) September 7, 2016
— Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD) September 7, 2016
— Allan Etmanski (@allanetmanski) September 7, 2016
If OneRepublic aren’t necessarily super-duper stars, they aren’t exactly unknowns: their song “Counting Stars” reached No. 1 in 54 countries and is the ditty most likely to make CFL fans go “oh, those guys.” Their album “NATIVE” sold five million copies, or so the CFL press release says, though what album sales mean these days… they also get bonus points for having the same fascination with odd capitalization as the Ottawa ReDBlaCkS.
OneRepublic is the latest in a recent trend of (semi) popular American bands headlining the halftime show at the championship game of Canadian football, following Fall Out Boy last year and the Imagine Dragons in 2014. They, in turn, followed a trio of (semi) popular Canadian acts that most people think are American (or the country is actively trying to disown): Hedley in 2013, Justin Bieber in 2012 and Nickelback in 2011.
The CFL is clearly targeting a younger, more mainstream demographic with these choices, annoying the stodgy traditionalists that comprise a significant portion of the league’s fan base (and most of its mainstream media, it should be said.) The last old school Canadian act to grace the stage at the Grey Cup was Bachman & Turner in 2010, following in the footsteps of Blue Rodeo (2009), the Tragically Hip (2004), Bryan Adams (2003) and Shania Twain (2002.)
Though they’ve certainly gone the big American act route before and the less said about The Black Eyed Peas, the better.
It’s hard to blame the CFL for chasing that elusive younger demographic, though it seems to be their sole marketing strategy at the moment. And it likely means being subjected to American pop for the foreseeable future.
And I know there a lot of reasons why this couldn’t happen but how amazing would it have been…