This year and last, the NFL Superbowl wooed viewers with a half-time show so packed with music stars, it seemed to nearly upstage the actual football game. Fresh from a tour in support of "All that you can't leave behind," U2 brought with them an impressive catalog of hits, but also the band's entire heart-shaped stage set from the tour, as the group performed this year's half-time show. And last year, the end of the Superbowl's second quarter meant the all-star cast of NSync, Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Nelly, et. al.
What has happened to the Big Game? I remember when the game was the draw; now the play is second or even third to the musical guests and commercials. The half-time shows I remember as a child were inexcusably cheesy. One year, it was Elvis-themed, with a bunch of glittery-suited dancers choreographed to songs such as "Jailhouse Rock." It was time for the fans there to head to the bathroom or snack stand and for those watching at home to reheat the nachos. This year, the stands were full. And crowds, presumably of sincere U2 fans, filled the field for the band's performance. Marches and baton-twirlers have been replaced by Billboard hitmakers as the half-time show of choice.
Are organizers trying to escape the cheesy tradition of the half-time show, and shoot some energy into this aspect of the game? This is a misplaced question. The Superbowl is about football; more specifically, the two most accomplished teams in the NFL vying for championship.
Half-time show as live concert seems as out of place as it would during an NHL All-star game. So, why subject football fans to pop music they probably haven't even heard? To do just that. The performers at a half-time show reach an audience in the millions. The exposure must be marvelous, and, industry leaders must think, so is the potential for profits. In my opinion, the half-time show has become another commercial for Britney Spears, just in case you missed all the Pepsi commercials that aired.
I resent such marketing as much as I do the lackluster performances. Last year, Nelly seemed out of place and the cast of singers rotated so many lyrics, the performance was blurry. This year, U2, a fine live band, seemed wooden in performance. Come to think of it, those dancing Elvis impersonators emoted more enthusiasm and lead a performance that was the fruit of much preparation. Yet, I am happy, for all of this means the NFL season is over. Go Metrostars!