As spectators tuned into the Super Bowl halftime show on February 3, some may have wondered why a cartoon clip played between Maroon 5's opener and Travis Scott's first appearance on the stage. Yes, in addition to the mentioned artists and Big Boi, an unlikely animated celebrity made an appearance at the show. But it turns out the Spongebob Squarepants tribute at Super Bowl 2019 was anything but random.
In November of 2018, SpongeBob Squarepants' creator Stephen Hillenburg passed away, losing his 20-month battle with ALS, reported Variety. He was only 57. I don't need to go into the impact this show has had on fans. Since the first episode aired in 1999, it seemed like fans immediately flocked to this strange, talking sponge that lived at the bottom of the sea. The silly concept, characters, and storylines brought unalloyed joy to kids and adults alike. Those who aren't devout fans of the cartoon may have found his presence at the Super Bowl a bit... random, but they can actually thank the cartoon's devout viewers for that.
When Hillenburg passed, fans started a petition to have "Sweet Victory" aired during the upcoming game, according to Complex. The scene originally aired in the second season of SpongeBob Squarepants, in 2001 and the episode title was "Band Geeks." During the episode, SpongeBob and a few other main characters perform during the Bubble Bowl, a mock Super Bowl. You can actually view the whole clip in the video below.
But the SpongeBob connection to this particular game is twofold, and it has to do with Travis Scott, who joined Adam Levine on the Mercedez-Bens Stadium stage.
Wait... what does a cartoon sponge have to do with Kylie Jenner's baby daddy? Elite Daily summed it up perfectly. "Shortly after Scott released his hit single "Sicko Mode" last fall, a viral video pointed out that the rap song perfectly syncs with the video of SpongeBob performing "Sweet Victory,'" the site explained. If you're a bit confused, let @anthonnytrucco's tweet illustrate it for you.
Seriously, why does it work so well?
It made sense then, that once Adam Levine and the rest of Maroon 5 played a couple of their hits, that the cartoon clip would segue to the beginning of Travis Scotts' performance.
Leading up to the performance, fans were getting hyped about the possibility of some sort of SpongeBob Squarepants tribute making its way to the Super Bowl stage. Once it aired though, fans weren't thrilled.
The clip didn't actually show the full song that people were hoping for, and many fans like @brandtendo were ready to see the full performance.
Some thought that the barely-there clip was such a disgrace, and didn't pay Hillenburg the respect that he was due.
For those who were eagerly awaiting the Super Bowl performance of a lifetime featuring a very silly Sponge, the deception was real. "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world we would get a #Spongebob halftime performance," tweeted @sagesurge.
At the end of the day, I can see how the powers-that-be thought they were doing enough by giving SpongeBob at least a few seconds of air-time and thought they were being clever by having Travis Scott appear just as SpongeBob would've otherwise taken the stage, but it's apparent that the fans were not impressed.