Tight end Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs clinched a crucial AFC Championship win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. And not only did the Chiefs come out on top, but Kelce himself dove into the end zone for a receiving touchdown in the opening minutes of the game, prompting the cameras to cut to yet another shot of Swift in the stands, jubilantly celebrating her boyfriend’s undeniable dominance.
— Taylor Swift Updates (@SwiftNYC) January 28, 2024
According to countless, breathless reports, even though Swift is scheduled to perform a leg of her Eras Tour in Tokyo the weekend of the Super Bowl, the time difference should give her more than enough time to make it back across the globe to Las Vegas in time to see Kelce take on the San Francisco 49ers.
The narrative, as it’s been all season, is once again Swift-centric, and that’s great news for almost everyone—fans, advertisers and ticket sellers, primarily—except for perhaps poor Usher, who is the actual Halftime Show performer, and who almost no one is talking about.
The NFL doesn’t need Swift’s help to draw eyeballs: 2022’s Super Bowl LVII, between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, was not only the most watched Super Bowl ever, but the most-watched event in the history of American television.
But with Swift in the stands in 2024, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect LVII’s viewership record to get left in the dust. Las Vegas is built to withstand crowds and chaos, but still, the city should brace itself.
When Swift’s Eras Tour came to town last year in Glendale, AZ, city communications director Sue Breding told The Daily Beast that “the buzz, the traffic, the hotels; all of that rivaled the Super Bowl.”
However, unless she decides to go against all reports to the contrary and whip out a surprise National Anthem, Swift is not scheduled to perform at all in Las Vegas. In fact, due to either conflicts of interest or personal indifference, she has reportedly turned down offers to perform at the Halftime Show several times over the last few years. After all, she just became an impassioned football fan this season.
The 2024 Halftime Show, as announced last September by the show’s sponsor Apple Music, will be helmed by aforementioned R&B legend Usher, who’s coming off a well-received Las Vegas residency. And the choice to tap Usher for the halftime show was announced last September in an odd promo video in which Usher receives the news via a phone call from Kim Kardashian, a sometime Swift nemesis.
— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) September 24, 2023
In a curious coincidence, a phone call is, of course, the catalyst for Swift and Kardashian's continued discord, which Swift doubled down on in her Time Person of the Year cover story last month: the “Bad Blood” singer maintains that Kardashian illegally recorded her phone conversation with Kanye West about his song “Famous,” and that Kardashian released a version of the conversation that she deliberately edited to make Swift look like a liar.
But Kanye aside, Usher and Taylor Swift appear to have no discernible beef between them. He performed his hit “Yeah!” with the star on her Speak Now world tour in 2011, and Usher even told the Today show last November that if Swift ended up in attendance at the big game, “she could be one person that I serenade.”
Sure, Usher discovered Justin Bieber, who was, until last year, managed by another Swift nemesis, Scooter Braun, but there’s no way Swift’s relationship with Kelce is a convoluted ploy to undermine Usher’s Halftime Show because of that tenuous connection, right? We’ll have to leave conspiracy theories like that to the far right.
It’s fascinating to consider how quickly and seamlessly superstar Swift has blended into her new paramour’s sporty surroundings. When Kelce and Swift debuted their courtship at a Chiefs game at the end of September, it was bedlam; so deafening was the internet uproar over the first photos of the pop star in Arrowhead Stadium, the Empire State Building changed its colors to match a meme spawned from the game.
Exasperated football diehards, dubbed “Brads and Chads” by Swift and Kelce, have constantly lamented that her VIP booth attendances detract from the purity of the game. On the other side of the coin, NFL commentator Tony Romo is now so used to her presence that he’s mistakenly called her Kelce’s wife on multiple occasions.
All of which is to say, the Taylor Swift Effect on the NFL still hasn’t peaked. It has continued to hit week by week until her star power ultimately collides with the Super Bowl, already the biggest entertainment and sporting event of the year. When you add Swift to the mix, the implications are downright terrifying.