P!NK to Sing Super Bowl National Anthem in NFL Season Defined by Protests

In an NFL season largely defined by protests during the national anthem, the league announced Monday that rock star P!NK would help kick off the Super Bowl by singing the National Anthem. 

Super Bowl LII will take place February 4 in Minneapolis. Justin Timberlake had already been announced as the halftime performer, and performing at the Super Bowl, a massive platform for artists. Ratings were down a bit for last year's Super Bowl, yet it was still watched by  111.3 million people and played in some 70 percent of homes with a television, according to Nielsen.

"The Super Bowl is annually the most-watched television program," the NFL said in a statement. "P!NK's performance of the National Anthem in Minneapolis will be her first time appearing on the Super Bowl stage."

P!NK is joining an impressive list of past Super Bowl national anthem performers, including Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, Vanessa Williams, Luther Vandross, Cher, Faith Hill, Mariah Carey, the Dixie Chicks, Beyoncé and Christina Aguilera. Houston delivered arguably the greatest performance of all time at the 1991 game in Tampa.

P!NK's national anthem performance might be one of the most closely watched in recent memory. That's because of the attention surrounding the protests begun by former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. He kneeled during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality and the oppression of black people in America. Other players followed suit, culminating in this season's day of nearly league-wide demonstrations after President Donald Trump insulted the protestors, something he has continued to do. 

The demonstrations slowed after the NFL agreed to donate money toward solving cultural causes important to the players. Some players worry that may prove to be an empty PR move. Others continued to kneel throughout the 2017 season, and should participants in the upcoming Super Bowl do so during P!NK's performance, expect a major cultural moment.

P!NK is known for her activism and speaking her mind. Most recently, she used her acceptance speech for the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the MTV VMAs to advocate for gender non-conforming kids. She would likely welcome players taking the knee at the Super Bowl.