Gaga for Halftime

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It’s always a big deal (for some reason) when the performer for the Super Bowl is announced.  For this year’s Super Bowl, it was announced that Lady Gaga would have the honor.  Nothing against Lady Gaga – she’s a great song writer and a fantastic performer, but this honor seems about 5 or 6 years too late.  Even with that, she has enough notable hits to keep folks entertained for the halftime show.  Let’s be honest though – some of the Super Bowl viewers wait for the halftime show as their time to go to the bathroom, because they’ve been holding it in, since the opening kick-off.  Sure they could’ve went during a commercial break – but some people actually watch the Super Bowl JUST for the commercials – so who would want to miss that?  Gaga has a very eccentric and wide fan-base though, so many may stay glued to their television sets to see her perform.  And guys, even if you’re not into Gaga’s music – you HAVE to have an interest in what she’ll be wearing at least. . . right?  RIGHT?

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This made me think back to halftime shows of the past and how the NFL had some really good performances and some that were down-right awful or at best, confusing.

When the Super Bowl became “a thing,” the halftime show was really made for the bathroom break.  I mean I respect a college marching band as much as the next guy but for the first decade or so of halftime shows, all the NFL displayed were a bunch of horns, flutes, bass drums and somebody twirling something in the air and catching it.

An educational organization called Up With People kind of handled all the halftime shows, usually accompanied with a marching band.  This is the best the NFL could do… We’re talking late 60’s to the late 80’s – bands and a “super cover” band we’re called upon to handle the halftime performance.  We can lists names of groups and artists that would’ve been suitable performers but that would occupy the rest of this piece. . .easily.

In 1991, they made sure every girl from age 7-17 were tuned in to watch The New Kids On the Block, but I’m sure the core audience of (ah hem) men – had no interest in watching a boy band jump around a stage singing “girl you’re the one” songs.  You can credit the NFL for trying to gain a bigger audience but their attempt was a little off the mark – kind of like Scott Norwood’s kick at the end of this game. . .

A halftime spectacular featuring Michael Jackson wows a SB XXVII crowd of better than 98,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on 1/31/1993. ©Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images Photos (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The next two years they got it right with Gloria Estefan and Michael Jackson in back to back half time shows.  These halftime shows were monumental and for totally different reasons.  Gloria Estefan was a huge name at the time, but FOX countered the NFL by deliberately playing a half-time episode of In Living Color which attracted millions upon millions of viewers away from the Super Bowl telecast.  This ignited the NFL to get Michael Jackson the following year and according to our friends at Wikipedia: “it has been claimed to be one of the most watched events in American television history.”  

Afterwards the NFL kind of stumbled back and forth with good and bad ideas: SB XXIX wasted Patti Labelle and Teddy Pendegrass by having them perform to an Indiana Jones theme; SB XXXI decided it was a good idea to have a tribute to the Blues Brothers which “showcased” Dan Ankroyd, James Belushi and John Goodman. . .Then the NFL had an obsession with old-washed up rockers: SB XXXIX served us Paul McCarthy struggling through a set which ended on that high octane banger “Hey Jude,”. . . Then for three years in a row (SB’s XLII, XLIII and XLIV) the NFL gave us Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Who. . . Now I can get behind The Who’s catalog of music, but in 2010 they had to find guys not looking like wet garbage bags to perform. . . I can name one Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin’ and he performed it, but he probably performed it better when it came out 20 years prior – and Springsteen – we don’t have enough time for me to get into how Springsteen has been nothing but a gimmick with a terrible voice and probably the corniest lyrics ever.  Props to him though for making a legit career out of that nonsense.

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The NFL’s gotten better though as of late.  Although I may not care for many of the performers, at least they are trying to be current.  In SB XLVIII Bruno Mars gave us one of the best performances we have ever seen during a halftime show and the energy added by the Red Hot Chili Peppers made it one of the ages; Beyonce was great to watch in SB XLVII, but we all could’ve done without performances of “End of Time” and “Halo” – she did bring out Destiny’s Child though which got a good pop out of the audience. . . It’s amazing though how when Coldplay, brought Beyonce and Bruno Mars with them at the halftime show at Super Bowl 50, it was just awkward, boring and flat out dull. . . Especially after Katy Perry (at the height of her popularity) made a party out of the Halftime show and made the world obsess over a dancing shark. . .

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What I’d really like is a replay of SB XXXII – a tribute to Motown.  Classic and timeless songs performed by artists that can only be described as legendary.  Also would would be nice is maybe a Britney Spears halftime show.  She had to share the stage with N’Sync and Aerosmith at SB XXXV – but let’s give Queen of Pop her due.  It seems kind of “off” that Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and even Jessica Simpson (yeah, THAT Jessica Simpson)  would get this honor before Britney doesn’t it? . . .

Anyhow, with all of that being said – Lady Gaga should do a “good enough” job to not have her performance go down as “forgettable.”  Or at least let’s hope so.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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