The return of the contemporary Super Bowl halftime show

Beyonce-Super-Bowl-2013-photoBY ELI KABERON

We all remember where we were, nine years ago, when Justin Timberlake screamed, “I’mma have you naked by the end of this song” and the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction occurred. The moment seemingly changed Super Bowl halftimes forever, as modern musical acts were pushed aside for golden oldies like Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, The Who and Bruce Springsteen. It seemed like after Janet, no modern top-40 artist would ever get a chance to perform on the most-seen stage television has to offer. And for the most part, the general public was cool with that.

Then a few years ago, the pendulum swung back to pop music as the Black Eyed Peas were tabbed to perform at halftime. Though the show was infamously awful, it signaled a change in direction. Last year, Madonna (a weird mix of both being old but also sort of top-40ish) took the stage, and though again the performance itself was disappointing, it showed the NFL and their broadcast partners weren’t afraid of branching out a little bit. However, the general public’s opinion of the show wavered. Some wondered if it was only a matter of time until the league went back to their classic rock roots.

Instead, the halftime went even further to the side of current artists by nabbing perhaps the most-popular musician in the world, an artist known equally for her terrific songs, scintillating dance moves and jaw-dropping beauty: Beyoncé. Given her track record of hits, her history of outlandish live performances and all the musical connections she has, the expectations for the show during the middle of Super Bowl XLVII were high. To paraphrase Beyoncé herself, I’m not sure we could handle this.

Other than one small issue I had, she didn’t disappoint on Super Sunday. Beyoncé rolled through her hits like Anquan Boldin rolled through the 49ers secondary. “Crazy in Love,” “Baby Boy,” “Single Ladies,” all mixed with an amazing stage show that featured guitars on fire, some hot dancing that I don’t think anyone else in music could touch and a bevy of backup dancers doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Then, literally out of the stage, appeared her former mates in Destiny’s Child. That led to hits like “Independent Women” and “Bootylicious,” both terrific songs and huge hits in their own right. Though I could have also gone for some “Bills, Bills, Bills” or “Bug A Boo” from the D.C. ladies, I though the show was spectacular, a huge improvement from what the Peas and Madonna put on in past years.

However, seeing that she is married to the best rapper alive, I was really hoping for a Jay-Z cameo. He could have popped in for the last verse on “Crazy in Love” or they could have dropped “Upgrade U.” Oh well. Next year the Super Bowl is in New York, Jay’s hometown. If the NFL wants to continue going with popular acts that the current generation of football fans appreciate, there may not be a better choice than the rapper himself. Now that would be a show we’d all remember where we were for, but for completely different reasons than with Timberlake and Jackson.

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One thought on “The return of the contemporary Super Bowl halftime show

  1. If the NFL wants to keep having popular acts perform at the Super Bowl then the rumor I just made up…Nickleback is on the verge of signing a 10 year contract with the NFL to perform at half time of the big game for the next decade…will be true. Finger crossed…

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