Levine played the half time show with his band, Maroon 5 on Super Bowl Sunday. The singer began with three layers of clothing on his upper body, and by the end he had shed them all, revealing a chiseled physique covered in tattoos. Not all were happy to see it, however, as the Federal Communications Commission soon learned.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the FCC received at least 50 complaints about Levine after the Super Bowl. Specifically, viewers were outraged to see the singers nipples on full display. This was, apparently, related to the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, when Janet Jackson's nipple was exposed.
"I want him banned, just like they did Janet," one complaint read.
"Adam Levine showed both his nipples by taking his shirt completely off. NFL/CBS/Maroon 5 should be met with twice the consequences as those that faced consequences of the 2004 'wardrobe malfunction,'" added another.
Callers may have been contacting the FCC in an attempt to balance this double standard, though they have still probably missed the mark. The agency's deputy chief for the consumer policy division, Nancy Stevenson, told reporters that the FCC is not required to keep records of informal complaints for more than three years, so the exact number of calls about Jackson was lost.
At the time, it was widely reported that the FCC got a total of half a million calls or more about her halftime slip-up. The agency tried to placate viewers by issuing a $550,000 fine, but the incident nearly went to the Supreme Court before it was thrown out.
So far, the FCC has not issued a fine for Levine, CBS or the NFL over his shirtless performance. The agency also reportedly got many letters complaining about the trailer for Jordan Peele's Us, which about 24 people felt was too frightening for young viewers.
Levine, Maroon 5 and the other performers who participated in this year's half time show were criticized for doing so. Many other artists declined the opportunity out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the other players who protested police violence at NFL games. The player himself did not call for these boycotts.
"No one put more thought and love into this than I did," he said of his decision to perform," Levine said in response to these criticisms. "I spoke to many people, most importantly though, I silenced all the noise and listened to myself, and made my decision about how I felt."