by Guest Editor
Although I find most pop culture-related news to be a waste of my time and extremely exhausting, this subject is something I try to keep tabs on every year because technically it’s NFL-related. Which is weird, because I think we all know that technically it has nothing to do with the league, or the game on the field. The objective here is to get people who may not be interested in said game to watch the halftime show. This is typically done by putting a pop artist or a group of classic rock musicians on a stage with a lot of lights and clever camera angles in order to attract viewers who are impressed by shiny objects. In a nutshell, the Super Bowl is essentially the one time a year where television programming just goes ahead and assumes we all suffer from attention deficit disorder. I say bullshit, I don’t suffer from it one bit. In fact, I accredit my ADD as the source for the fact that I’m able to multitask so well in the physical business environment. What were we talking about again?
Oh, right…The Super Bowl Halftime Show. Over the years, we’ve seen our fair share of interested halftime shows since they became such a popular part of the Super Bowl landscape. There was the disaster at Super Bowl XXXV where MTV was in charge of the production and thought it would be a good idea to pair up N*SYNC with Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was followed three years later by yet another MTV production which would land the NFL in hot water as singer Justin Timberlake ripped off a section of Janet Jackson’s clothing revealing not only her nipple, but also 38-year old former child star Janet Jackson. And who can forget a year later in Jacksonville when LeAnn Rimes took the stage and shit all over the front reference monitor?
Okay, so that last one never really happened. But that’s the fun thing about trying to predict these events: You never truly know what’s going to go down, and speculation allows for the humorous mind to travel to far off lands where those of us who actually had to sit through previous boring Super Bowl contests like Super Bowl XXIV – or most recently Super Bowl XLVIII – get to talk about what we would want for the halftime show. Because let’s be honest, the true American football fans always get shit on when it comes to the Super Bowl. We didn’t want to see Bruno Mars perform at the second shitty aforementioned game, he had to earn our respect and I’ve gone on record as saying he did just that. But we didn’t order the Bruno Burger, it was served to us. We’re never going to get the Motorhead sandwich, and we know it.
Last year I was wrong when I said America was sick of Katy Perry. I mean, I was right – and we still are – but she got the gig anyway and left us with a pretty forgettable performance overall. The central focus of that piece was that perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get Weird Al to give us fourteen solid minutes of fun, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that isn’t ever going to happen.
So this year I’ve decided to go a little bit deeper and discuss the big picture as a whole. Essentially this piece is going to be a three-act play: First I’m going to list the artists who should definitely not be considered despite their huge success and/or current popularity, and then I’m going to explain why. Next I’m going to list a few artists who I think most of us would love to see perform, but won’t get the opportunity to do it for whatever reason or another. Then last and definitively least, we’re going to take a look at the legitimate possibilities and the most likely candidates to perform at the break during this year’s big game. This is the FOH breakdown of potential – and not so potential – Super Bowl halftime performers.
Those who won’t be there
Just about every hack joke on the planet has been made regarding AC/DCs now very unfortunate song titles after drummer Phil Rudd was accused of trying to off some poor sap down under in November of last year. And as much as I’d like to take part in such easy joke-writing fodder, the main problem with that is those jokes are just as hack as everything AC/DC recorded after Bon Scott took a nap inside that Renault 5 in East Dulwich back in February of 1980. If the NFL isn’t going to address the whole concussion thing, they sure as hell would be toeing the arrogance line by hiring a band whose founding drummer carries a backpack full of crystal meth around New Zealand. Plus, Malcolm Young already has one foot in the grave and is no longer playing with the group so they’re only one Angus car accident from being completely unrecognizable. You’re probably reading this and thinking “But what about The Rolling Stones? Why are they okay and AC/DC isn’t?” The answer to that is simple: The Rolling Stones are still good, and AC/DC is not. And as for Rudd himself coming back and triumphantly joining the band, well…let’s just say it would be a better PR move for the NFL to have Aaron Hernandez sit on that stool while the band rips through a rousing rendition of “Shoot to Thrill” before he gets out his iPhone and smashes it with a hammer. (God dammit…I did it, didn’t I?)
If this is a name you don’t recognize, this is the “All About That Bass” girl. I was a little bit disappointed when I finally heard that song for the first time, as her voice has plenty of treble in it and I couldn’t believe how many athletes that clearly should have known better had referenced the song on Twitter. For the record, my distaste for Meghan Trainor has nothing to do with the fact that she doesn’t have the body of a lot of the pop stars / future strippers that currently grace the tortured airwaves of what’s left of terrestrial radio. I love a full-figured woman more than anything in the world, and as much as I hate to admit it for that reason a very small part of me was rooting for her to be a huge star with legitimate staying power in the industry. That was, until I saw this…
What a bitch. And I’m not even referring to the prissy demands for what basically amounts to a man-servant in the above clip, I’m talking about lifting this entire song note for note from one of the biggest songs in the history of pop music. If you could get through more than thirty seconds of the above video, you probably noticed that it sounded familiar. That’s because it’s a nearly identical replication of the Dion and the Belmonts 1961 number one smash hit “Runaround Sue”…
…Which pisses me off, because that’s one of my favorite songs of all time. And for those who would cite sampling here, this isn’t sampling…it’s plagiarism in its purest form. I’m a musician, I know the fucking difference between cutting up a beat or a hook and writing a song over it and just robbing someone blind. If you can only take one thing away from this article, I want that one thing to be that you know doing this isn’t okay. Maybe this girl can get married to that “The Fat Jew” guy who got popped thieving all of the comedians’ bits on Instagram.
But technically, there’s another key reason this wouldn’t work: Meghan Trainor is literally seconds from falling off of the face of the earth. The Super Bowl halftime show is arranged months in advance, and the biggest buzz in the world surrounds the biggest game in the universe. So in order to keep that momentum going, you need to keep the hits coming and she just doesn’t have it in her. Lou Bega probably has a laundry list of career advice with regards to what Meghan Trainor should do once the bottom falls out of this one-trick pony, and keep in mind he picked up his pointers from Gerardo.
Born Marshall Mathers to a single mother with no money and a notorious substance abuse problem that would eventually become a huge topic of his rhymes, Eminem has made millions of dollars telling his now-famous rags-to-riches story all over the world. He’s incredibly skilled at what he does, yet wouldn’t work for the Super Bowl because his content is just way too adult for the halftime show. His clean stuff has tons of holes in it that even he wouldn’t be able to fill, and in the rare instance that he could work it out enough people would know what he means to say in those spaces and they’d raise a huge stink about it. The guy’s got one of the most unique skill sets I’ve ever seen when it comes to the art of hip-hop, but he just can’t keep his mouth clean regardless of how long he remains sober. Not gonna happen.
Hear me out here…there is a very good reason that U2 has no shot at getting this gig. I realize that they performed at the show back in 2002, but according to the “Up with People” rule established at Super Bowl XX that makes them more than eligible for a repeat performance fourteen years later. And by all accounts, U2 has the material to easily draw from without doing single song from that 2002 set. They didn’t do a fucking drop of anything off of Rattle and Hum during that halftime show, and they are also by far one of the biggest bands in the world. Here’s the problem: 2016 is going to be an election year in the United States which will dictate what direction this country is headed in when it comes to a lot of really important social issues. At the time that the Super Bowl will be played, the election will be only ten months away. I’ve about had it with the lead up to this election already, and we still well over a year out. To be frank, U2 is way too political of a band to not try and sneak some of their own ideology in there. I don’t think I’m sharing any surprise information when I suggest that U2 is pretty liberal and commissioner DickySipper McPenisFace is probably a huge conservative, so the mere thought of this becoming a legitimate possibility is so far from coming to fruition that there’s no way it’s going to happen.
Those who won’t be there, but it sure would be awesome if they were
Faith No More
This summer FNM came back this past year with “Sol Invictus”, their first record of new material in eighteen years. It was released to mixed reviews, and the band even stopped by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to do their cover of the Commodores classic “Easy”. But Lionel Richie penned songs aside, this would actually be a good one because Mike Patton of Faith No More can really sing. They have a lot of high energy hits, and there’s just enough keyboard in there to make it seem like the subject matter isn’t as heavy as it really is. Enough people remember “Epic” that they could pull it off, but of course one close look at the band by the suits would reveal that perhaps it’s not a good idea to take a chance on a group whose best album is called “Angel Dust”. But wouldn’t it be awesome to see the look on everybody’s faces when Patton throws down the third verse of “Be Aggressive”? Of course it would…
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
One word: Shrapnel. Anybody who has ever worked as a stage hand on a high school play or local theater production knows good and well that one of the most fascinating things about the Super Bowl Halftime Show is how quickly they’re able to get the set off of the field before the second half. Other than the fact that their music is killer, we know they are famous for turning everything around them to dust as soon as their time is up. They’ve probably destroyed millions of dollars of equipment over the course of their career, and I think that’s precisely what we need to break up the monotony of these overtly family-friendly bore fests. It would be hilarious to see these theater geeks scramble to make the playing surface safe again after Trail ripped through half of “Source Tags and Codes”. I’d much rather see grounds crews on their hands and knees picking splinters up out of the turf than sit around and watch everybody wait for the lights to come back on in the Superdome like we had to inexcusably do three years ago. But the question remains: Will You Smile Again For Me?
Although most of the time I don’t waste any of my energy on it, sometimes I wonder what happened to Taylor Dayne. I really do. I thought she could have had a Madonna-caliber type of career and she really does have a powerful voice to boot. But this wish of mine is based more off of science than substance, so hear me out. See, Taylor Dayne would be a perfect Super Bowl halftime show because most of these things are usually right around fourteen minutes long. I figure we can trim that down a bit, so here would be my plan: You drag her botoxed ass up on stage to do “With Every Beat of My Heart”, then have her follow that up with “Tell it to my Heart”. Then right when she tries to bust into “Don’t Rush Me”, you kill all the lights and cut her mic because that would be fucking irony in its most priceless form. Additionally, the viewing audience wouldn’t give a shit that she got cut short because nobody remembers any other decent Taylor Dayne songs. The whole thing would take maybe nine minutes tops, saving us at least five minutes and then we’re that much closer to getting back to playing football. Science, bitches. What’s that? You say this would never work? I can’t believe you’d be so mean as to point that out…You must have a heart of stone.
Legitimate candidates for the gig
Dave Matthews Band
Although it’s painfully obvious their music isn’t for everybody, DMB is one of the highest-grossing concert acts in the world. It’s family friendly and even though I don’t have them high on my list of personal favorites, they are good musicians that have a huge following. You would gain a ton of casual viewers here as well, because the people who follow around the Dave Matthews Band on the concert circuit are a very specific kind of entertainment consumer. I’ve always been kind of suspect about when a person listens to one specific artist to the point where it seems as if they are obsessed with them, and with the Grateful Dead now retired DMB has become that artist. That’s why they would be a good choice – I have this bizarre theory that very few of his fans actually pay attention to the NFL. Dave fans would probably think that the Super Bowl is some sort of hookah session where we take turns talking to each other’s sandals, so they’d all tune in and numbers would be through the roof. The Dave Matthews Band has a history with the NFL, as they played the season opener in New Orleans a few years back after the Saints won the Super Bowl. I suppose upon further analysis there are a lot of college dudes in frats that probably watch football, so I retract my earlier statement but overall I don’t think this is a bad choice.
Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
If I had to put money on it, this is the one I can see being the most likely to actually happen. Hollywoodlife.com (the site I go to for all of the things that make me glad I’m not famous) reported back in June that the NFL has expressed interest in Swift performing the halftime show, but for some bizarre reason they also want Britney Spears to co-star in it. I’m not gonna nitpick between those two or who is the bigger star, but I’m kind of getting sick of people ragging on Taylor Swift. We get it, you’re too hipster for anything that’s over a billion YouTube hits – if only we could all be as punk rock as you. I even heard one guy that I know not too long ago say “Yeah…She’s hot, but she’s kinda bony” and that’s where I have to draw the fucking line. I would eat double chocolate peanut butter ice cream out of Taylor Swift’s asshole, and if Jesus came back to earth while I was doing it I can promise you I’d keep scooping until he finally sent me to hell for all of eternity. You’d do the same thing, and don’t even try to weasel your way out of this one. Speaking of other pop stars I would rim out in heartbeat, she has some sort of feud going on with Katy Perry which is something I’m not going to put too much stock into until one of them gets pumped full of lead in a Lincoln Continental that Suge Knight is driving. But since Katy did last year’s show, I could definitely see Taylor Swift’s people going out of their way to make this happen.
Like her or not, Lady Gaga moves crazy units in a sad world where units are MP3s and musical talent is harder to come by than ever. She’s a huge draw on the concert scene for those who think Madonna’s backup singers aren’t gay enough to fork over a hundred dollars for a ticket, and she could probably easily make her way through the numerous songs she’s tricked us into all tapping our feet to in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. She’s pretty close to the line – there’s some stuff that could be considered controversial there – but for the most part she could do a safe enough set to please the sponsors. This one maybe isn’t entirely realistic right now, but in a few years after she’s had a couple more hit singles this one is a go for sure.
The Rolling Stones
You have to think that even though we’ve been wrong about Mick and Keith kicking the bucket for several decades, it’s probably coming here pretty shortly in the nearly future. With all of the problems that Lemmy’s been having finishing Motorhead shows, the end of the Rolling Stones is probably just around the corner as well. There is a school of thought which says there’s no better time than now to have them play what will probably be their last Super Bowl Halftime Show, and then the years that follow we’ll let these twenty-somethings in the pop music field take over. The last one they played was Super Bowl XL in Detroit – an awful game in which they were one of the few highlights – and even if you think ten years is too short of a space between gigs, you might as well get it while it lasts. (Editor’s Note: This also brings up a great question: What about David Bowie? This piece is already way too long, but seriously…Why does nobody ever bring his name up when this gig is discussed?)
I put this one last for a good reason, and that reason is because believe it or not this one I think could actually happen. The guys in the important 3/4ths of Metallica are from the Bay Area, and although inherently their music may be considered too heavy to be considered for CBS’s largely hearing impaired or deaf audience it’s also too soft for those of us true metalheads to suggest that it isn’t really metal anymore anyway. This would be a great opportunity for the NFL to sort of take this whole thing to the next level for fans of heavy – excuse me, heavier – music, and if you think about it there’s really no other band that would give them that sort of credibility with die hard rock fans outside of the Foo Fighters. I’m sure they would keep it clean and predictable: They’d likely open up with “Enter Sandman”, play something off of their newer record, then do that awful song they bitched about people stealing from the Mission Impossible soundtrack, and close with something a little upbeat for good measure. There seems to be a genuine lack of support and/or interest in their fans voting them to play, as a Change.org petition launched in February has still garnered only 29,000 signatures in seven months. Those aren’t necessarily the numbers the NFL is looking for, but you never know the league might surprise us. They could always get Ray Rice to do backing vocals on “Battery” if they were really in a pinch.
Truth be told, I had to go back and watch Katy Perry’s Halftime Show from last year. After a solid half of intense pro football being played at the highest level, usually I skip the halftime show to focus on something else or go over my notes on the first half. But it’s still a big part of the Super Bowl Experience, even though most of us die-hards couldn’t care less. The light at the end of the tunnel assures us that there is a great second half of football coming, and that within minutes whatever just happened will be a thing of the past.
And don’t forget, there’s also the possibility we might see a nipple. Stay tuned.
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