Music’s Biggest Bore: The Super Bowl Halftime Show

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If you don’t like football, then you at least like the halftime performance. And if you do like football, then it’s when everyone else in the house crowds to the living room for 10 minutes.

Each year, the hype of the Super Bowl Halftime Show seems to get bigger and bigger. Most of this year’s pre-game buzz was whether or not Lady Gaga would use her platform to make a political statement, and her vague responses to the question only served to create further speculation. While I personally enjoyed the show, as someone who watches the entire game and happens to like her music, it got me thinking what type of show would best fit an event like this. Pop artists did not come to mind.

What began as a showcase of marching bands from around the country in the 1960s quickly turned into a platform for music’s biggest and brightest in the 70s. From then until 2004, the Super Bowl would choose a theme and have performers center their show around that. These themes used to be as specific as “Tribute to Louis Armstrong” or as vague as “Choose or Lose.”

The performers had to be well-known and have a discography that people could sing along to. But in recent years, if performers didn’t do something “cool” or wild, they would be considered boring. The NFL always has to find a balance between a performer that will do something that will be talked about without being too controversial. After Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s “Nipple-gate,” the NFL picked a safer choice for the following year’s performance — Paul McCartney.  

Adele notoriously told fans at her concert that she turned down an offer to play the halftime show this past Super Bowl, saying that the “show is not about music.” (For the record, the NFL and Pepsi issued a joint statement saying that Adele was never offered the spot). But Adele was wrong, the show is about the music — just not the right kind of music for her. Nobody wants to be upset about their ex at the halftime show. For fans whose team is losing, they want to forget the woes of the first half and hope the second is better. For fans whose team is winning, they want to revel in the adrenaline and gear up for a second half. And for people who just tune in for those eight minutes, they want something to talk about the next day.

I personally think that pop music is not the best fit for that atmosphere, despite mildly enjoying this year’s performance. The best performances are when bands like The Who, U2, The Rolling Stones, etc. come and revive the energy of viewers through their timeless songs and rough energy that only rock can provide. When pop stars come on, viewers might as well turn on the radio, because it is all that’s heard in mainstream music today. All the commercials leading up to the game claimed that it was “music’s biggest night,” but really, it was just the same stuff we hear all the time.

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