Super Bowl Sunday has its share of dubious rituals, like six-hour pre-game shows, overeating and fart-humor-based beer ads that cost $2 million-plus per 30 seconds.
In recent years, another such tradition seems to have taken hold: The halftime show has been the near-exclusive province of musical acts who are, to put it bluntly, geezers. And for that you can blame Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.
Ever since the Timberlake-Jackson bodice-ripping in 2004 led to a massive FCC fine, the NFL and the networks that air the Super Bowl have turned over the halftime show to a roster of classic-rock acts that are on the leading — that is, older — edge of the baby boomer demo. Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and this year The Who pretty well define geezer rock. Prince, 48 at the time of his 2007 performance, is the closest thing to edgy the show has booked in the post-Janet era, and it wasn’t like he came on stage and sang “Darling Nikki.”
That’s not to say these guys can’t still bring it. I’ve seen Springsteen live a few times in the past couple years, and his energy is incredible. Petty and Prince also did excellent little sets during their Super Bowl showcases.
Granted, a significant portion of the NFL’s core audience (i.e., dudes) probably digs the classic rock. But the Super Bowl broadcast isn’t made for the core audience — if it were just about appealing to the every-week fans, it wouldn’t even really need a halftime show.
So how ’bout we freshen up the playlist a little? Here are five perfectly safe but still potentially buzzworthy suggestions:
Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl and Co. have already provided the soundtrack for countless sports highlight packages. They put on a great live show, and they would keep the crowd buzzing until the teams retake the field.
LL Cool J: See above re: live performance, and as there has never been a hip-hop performer front and center during the Super Bowl halftime (Nelly made a cameo in 2001), the NFL could break a little ground. Plus, we hear the ladies love him.
Kelly Clarkson and/or Carrie Underwood: Next time FOX has the game, how about rounding up a couple of the better-known “American Idol” winners to share the stage?
Green Day: Yeah, they were once punk-rock darlings. But when there’s a Broadway musical based on your music about to open, you’re pretty much in the dead center of the mainstream.
Beyonce: Only one of the biggest-selling performers of the past decade. She has a great stage presence and could hold the attention a 70,000-plus crowd in the palm of her hand if she wanted to.
Who’d you like to see performing on the Super Bowl stage?
Photo credits: WireImage