Google “Super Bowl halftime show” and there’s no avoiding it. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and the wardrobe malfunction that brought the most infamous half time show in history to a close is now an annual pariah for half-time shows gone wrong. The FCC flipped their shit after receiving “thousands” of complaints from shocked parents, and promised that “heads would fall.” The NFL, CBS, and MTV, who produced the performance, were quick to apologize. Meanwhile, most of the country remained calm about the little nipple slip because, after all, they’d all seen a boob before.
The following year, the NFL hastily tried to forget the advertising catastrophe by booking Paul McCartney, the least offensive performer ever. Meanwhile, the country’s been stuck watching JT base the rest of his career on being a “surprise guest” in countless comedy sketches, while Janet’s career took a nose-dive. But let’s just be straight for a second: There have been way worse half-time performances.
The truth is the Super Bowl halftime show Super Blows. With the exceptions of Prince literally making it rain with the power of rock in February 2007, Michael Jackson in 1993, and that stretch in the late 60s and 70s when the crowd would riot if they weren’t treated to men with jetpacks landing on midfield, the Super Bowl halftime show is all hype. Here are some examples.
In 1997, James Brown sang a funky medley of some of his most famous tunes, which is awesome. Unfortunately, they also brought out a sickly version of the The Blues Brothers. Long after Belushi was too dead to cartwheel up the microphone, and Aykroyd had put on a few pounds, somebody decided to replace John with his brother Jim and throw in John Goodman for the hell of it. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for Brown as he scooted across the halftime stage, wondering when the Super Bowl Band was ever going to find “the one.” The godfather of soul was forced to fight off a seizure as he realized he was surrounded by the guy from Ghostbusters, the guy from Roseanne, and the guy from nothing ever.
In 1995, half-time producers apparently decided to recreate the popular Nickelodeon game show from the 90s, “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” except with Indiana Jones and an actual budget. Instead, they managed to create a jungle motif disaster that was exotic to no one, but offensive to everyone. The only saving grace was the classic singing of Patti LeBelle and a performance by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. Confession: I’ve always had a rager for Gloria, and she can turn my beat around any time.
What’s the perfect half-time entertainment for 75,000 people who’ve had several cups of cheap stadium beer and millions of fans on couches and barstools. How about a cheesy Elvis impersonator who can also perform magic card tricks? Look everyone it’s Elvis Presto! The only thing worse than performing a convoluted “guess your card” magic trick for an entire stadium is trying to explain it to them in a song before hand. Oh, yeah. It was in 3-D, too.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, here’s the clincher: Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas & Slash perform a duet. Unwatchable.
Despite all the belly-aching, hopes should be high for this year’s show. Why? Because they’ve booked Beyoncé and she’s freaking amazing. She and husband Jay-Z have just given birth to a super baby named Blue Ivy, and, as A.V. Club writer Nathan Rabin put it, she’s been channelling the “F*** You, I”m Awesome” vibe since about 2006. If they’re smart, they’ll let her rocket into the stadium and onto the field with a jetpack, an unstoppable diva meteor of voice, legs, and hair, which would instantly end the economic recession once and for all. Go sports!
Bonus Iron Clad Super Bowl Lock: Coach Harbaugh will suffer a crushing defeat despite players “giving it 110%” and the team “leaving it all on the field.”