Our Favorite Super Bowl Performances: The “Half”-time of Our Lives
Mon, 31 Jan 2011 13:02:25
Our Favorite Super Bowl Performances: The “Half”-time of Our Lives
On Sunday, February 6th, 2011, we here at ARTISTdirect will be watching the big game- otherwise known as Super Bowl XLV. My uncle wears a size XLV shirt, I think. The Super Bowl is consistently the most watched television event each year, with over one hundred million viewers in the United States alone. That’s more than twice the viewership NBC’s show “Chuck” has! Actually, to be honest, I think it’s more viewers than every NBC show has put together since Seinfeld went off the air… Anywho, these numbers are making my head spin. As we prepare for the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, we must remember a crucial part of the Super Bowl equation: the Halftime Show! Here are our ten favorites.
Prince- Super Bowl XLI (2007)
Prince graced us with his presence in 2007, during the Colts’ Super Bowl victory in rainy-day Miami. And boy, did he shred! The man in purple was vibrant and gripping- making up for years of changing his name to strange symbols and general oddities. Besides playing some of his own hits, he went into versions of “Proud Mary,” “All Along The Watchtower,” and even the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.” I remember seeing that and thinking, “Wow, Prince does a Foo Fighters cover!” I was waiting for him to cover “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam, but alas, it never happened.
U2- Super Bowl XXXVI (2001)
With the New England Patriots poised to score one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets of all time over the St. Louis Rams- and mere months after 9/11, mind you- U2 took the stage at halftime and delivered an appropriately emotional and poignant set that included “Beautiful Day” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” It’s too bad they couldn’t have waited a few years more- then they could have performed “City of Blinding Lights” too. Think of all the cool things they could have done with lights in the stadium! On a serious note, this performance was incredibly emotional and uplifting for the entire nation. On a non-serious note, U2 should have sung “Mysterious Ways” in honor of the enigmatic Patriots coach, Bill Belichick!
Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock- Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
This was easily the most infamous Super Bowl performance in the history of Super Bowl performances. It included “WardrobeGate”- the famed “malfunction” when Janet Jackson’s top came apart, exposing herself. (Note: I refuse to call it “Nipplegate” like so many have deemed it, in case my mother reads this). After the ensuing outrage from the public, Congress passed a law deeming that no performer under the age of 65 could perform at a Super Bowl halftime show. Not really, but it sure seemed like it, right? The weirdest part of this was trying to figure out the reasoning behind Janet and Justin’s stunt. Did the pop stars really think this would be well-received by most people watching the Super Bowl? They know this is America, right? Puritanical America- founded by Pilgrims? I mean, we got upset when kids wore Bart Simpson shirts to school!
Bruce Springsteen- Super Bowl XLIII (2009)
The Boss rocked the Super Bowl midway point recently with his patented energy and veracity. The most memorable moment was seeing Bruce slide crotch-first into the side stage camera man. I’m pretty sure that was not the inspiration behind 1080p.
The Rolling Stones- Super Bowl XL (2006)
The Rolling Stones- one of the biggest bands of all time, for those of you from Mars- rocked the stage in 2006 as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was on his way to winning his first Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They started it up with…. well, “Start Me Up,” and followed it with “Rough Justice” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Ironically, programmers booked the Stones because they were still worked up over the whole Janet Jackson incident from two years earlier. How funny it is to think of the Stones as a safe bet! No “Brown Sugar” in the set list?
Paul McCartney- Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)
Man, that’s a lot of “X’s” in there! Paul McCartney was the first performer to take the Super Bowl halftime stage post-Janet Jackson. Apparently the network felt confident that he wouldn’t drop trough during his performance. The highlight of Sir Paul’s performance was the wide shot during “Live And Let Die” where the drums kicked in and the massive fireworks erupted. No fun wardrobe malfunctions, but Paul McCartney still rocked the house. He was much better than controversial performance artist Paul McCarthy would have been, I bet. Seriously, check out his stuff- it’s really weird and sick.
In Living Color’s Super Halftime Party- Super Bowl XXVI (1992)
Remember this from the early nineties? This was a great gimmick by Fox; they attempted to pull viewers away from CBS’s Super Bowl Halftime show that featured ice skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill. Who wouldn’t want to watch that? Alright, alright, put your hands down everybody, we get it… Despite the killer comedy duo of Boitano and Hamill, In Living Color’s halftime show was a big success- nabbing between 20 and 25 million viewers who checked in to watch the likes of Damon Wayans, David Alan Grier and a fledgling Jim Carrey as “Fire Marshall Bill.”
Diana Ross- Super Bowl XXX (1996)
The disco queen might not seem like the type who would rock the 50-yard line, but she turned it into a dancing inferno! She managed four costume changes while singing over ten songs. Four costumes changes- she’s like the Whoopi Goldberg of dance music!
Michael Jackson- Super Bowl XXVII (1993)
The king of pop was probably the only exciting thing about this romp of a Super Bowl between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills got thoroughly crushed by the Cowboys, 52-17. Soul-crushingly crushed. This was the first Super Bowl where the ratings actually increased during the halftime performance. Speaking as a Buffalo Bills fan, I can attest that they will do that for ya!
Elvis Presto- Super Bowl XXIII (1989)
Wow. I’m not sure if this was a Super Bowl halftime performance or a new Adult Swim pilot. It was so terrible it was good- like if they did it today you’d know they were trying to make it bad. NBC, in an effort to be cutting edge, featured the first 3D Super Bowl halftime show with none other than… an Elvis impersonating magician! Eat your heart out, James Cameron. This one only made the list because it was so strange. It’s like an ironic t-shirt- you just have to love it.
There we go! This year, we have the Black Eyed Peas performing the halftime festivities. I’m guessing it will be an intimate, acoustic set. Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone- eat some unhealthy food, drink some beer, and sit on the couch for hours on end- all in time to ruin your New Year’s resolution!