I Had the Halftime of My Life

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably well aware that the Super Bowl is happening this weekend. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, this is the one sporting event that you can’t ignore. You may not know who is playing (the Seattle Seahawks vs. the Denver Broncos) or where the game is being played (MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ) but there is no escaping the media blitz that accompanies the big game.

As a football fan I am of course looking forward to the actual game, especially since my pal Peyton Manning is playing this year. Seeing him get the chance to win a long overdue second ring softens the blow that my Bills are not in the Super Bowl, nor will they be in a Super Bowl for the foreseeable future.  There are always the commercials to look forward to (you can watch a lot of this year’s ads here), though overall I think they have not been as fun recently as they used to be. And even in years when I wasn’t too excited for either of the teams in the game, I almost always look forward to the halftime show.

This year the halftime show will feature Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; I’m extremely curious to see how they are going to meld their two different styles together. I have no doubt that they will figure something out that works though of course the real question of the night will be if we get another “wardrobe malfunction” courtesy of RHCP bassist Flea. All of the Peppers have a history of wearing nothing but a well-placed sock during a performance, but Flea seems to me to be the most likely candidate to try and do it during the Super Bowl. That would be ill-advised, as the weather is supposed to be pretty darn chilly on Sunday night for those kinds of shenanigans. Shrinkage and all. Though I do think that they might be able to fit Bruno Mars entire body in a sock – that is one tiny man.

The Super Bowl halftime shows have something of a checkered past. Some were great, some were terrible and some were controversial. Few of them, however, were all that memorable. Thinking back, though I’ve watched the Super Bowl pretty consistently for nearly 30 years, I realized that I only recalled a handful of performances. I have vague recollections of some other years – I know, for instance, that both The Who and Paul McCartney did the halftime show, but I’d be hard pressed to give you more detail than that. When I think Super Bowl halftime shows, I think of the following performances:

Super Bowl XX – Up With People (1986)

This is actually the first Super Bowl that I remember. For some inexplicable reason, I was a big fan of William “Refrigerator” Perry and I was all excited to watch the Chicago Bears play in the big game. I have vivid memories of it snowing that day and sitting at our coffee table with a mug full of hot chocolate. I may have only been nine years old and I may have had no other point of reference, but even I knew this halftime show was crap. See, kids, back in the early days of the Super Bowl halftime shows, they weren’t the music superstar laden events that they are today. They weren’t seen as an attempt to lure in non-football fans, so instead viewers were subjected to a lot of marching bands and drill teams. It.Was.Awful. Up With People did the halftime show a whopping four times. There was even an Elivs impersonator one year. It was a dark time for America.

 

Super Bowl XXVII– Michael Jackson (1993)

 

I realize that I skipped over what should have been a memorable halftime show for me in 1991 when New Kids on the Block performed, but I honestly have no recollection of this happening. I chalk it up to the trauma of what happened in the game, when the words “wide right” became permanently ingrained into the subconscious of all of Buffalo. I wasn’t even an official fan of the Bills at the time, but I was rooting for them and inexplicably even wagered a week’s worth of lunches with someone at school. I guess I had a soft spot in my heart for Buffalo even way back then. In retrospect, this game was a warning of what my Bills’ future would hold.

Anyway, I remember watching this game over at my best friend Shana’s house with a bunch of our friends; as a group, we weren’t really that interested in the game, but I remember everyone watching Michael Jackson and debating what we thought about him. This was right before the first of his child molestation charges would surface and then things with him would get really weird (and they were already pretty weird). He was still pretty popular, but not as dominant as he once was. This was the first halftime show that was basically just a concert (no Disney characters dancing around) and it brought in high ratings. This was a bit of a turning point; from here on in, major acts were consistently recruited to perform.

Super Bowl XXXV – Aerosmith, N’Sync and Britney Spears (2001)

 

This halftime show was an interesting meld of the old and the new and is actually one of the performances that I enjoyed the most, perhaps because it had a high probability of being terrible. A show comprised of Aerosmith, N’Sync and Britney Spears is not necessarily a combination that I would have come up with on my own – remember this was the pre-American Idol Steven Tyler, so there was a little more rock and roll associated with Aerosmith. The “Bad Boys of Boston” were no strangers to collaboration – see their duet with Run D-M-C – but this was something different. I just remember this performance being a lot of fun.

Super Bowl XXXVI – U2 (2002)

 

This was potentially the saddest of the bunch, as this was the first Super Bowl after September 11th. U2 actually did a great job with a nice tribute to those who died without getting too depressing. They stuck the perfect tone and it was really a beautiful performance.

Super Bowl XXXVII – Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake (2004)*

 

Be honest – does anyone even remember that P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock were even a part of this halftime show? Of course not. All anyone remembers is the fateful “wardrobe malfunction” heard round the world. I was watching this Super Bowl with friends in Massachusetts, where I’m sure I was annoying everyone there by not rooting for the Patriots and for cheering for a safety so that I would hit with my Super Bowl square. I actually saw the wardrobe malfunction as it happened – I was the only person really paying attention to the halftime show and I remember whipping my head around to see if anyone else saw what I saw or if I had just imagined that I just saw Janet Jackson’s breast.

This was the halftime show that would result in almost a decade of old white guys being selected to be performers, who were deemed to be less of a potential risk (sound logic since so many of them could barely move). This was also the halftime show that soured me a bit on Justin Timberlake; I never really respected how he hung Janet Jackson out to dry and forced her to take all the heat for what happened. I thought that showed cowardice and while I’ve come back around on JT, it hasn’t left the back of my mind that when the chips were down, he ran away.

*Oddly, this was the only full performance that I couldn’t find on YouTube – though of course there were plenty of videos featuring the offending incident.

Super Bowl XLIII – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2009)

 

I’ll admit that this performance is probably only memorable to me because I love Springsteen, but I thought he and the E Street band put on one hell of an entertaining show. It was high energy (unsurprising given their penchant for 3+ hour concerts) and though I may have been the only person rocking out at the bar, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Springsteen even livened things up a bit by sliding right into the camera, giving the world a (fully clothed) crotch shot.

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Super Bowl XLVI– Madonna (2012)

 

This was the first post-Janet Jackson halftime show that had the real potential for something interesting or racy to happen. Nothing all that ordinary happened – save for a few scantily clad men – but this performance is what convinced me that I had to fulfill my dream of going to see Madonna live sooner rather than later. She still had it, but she was slowing down a step and I wanted to see her before it would be disappointing. I’m thankful that I saw her that summer, based on what I saw at the Grammys this year. I know that she was injured, but she sounded terrible.

 

Super Bowl VLVII – Beyoncé (2013)

 

I am usually one of the only women at the bar where we watch the Super Bowl every year (minus the staff) so it is no surprise that I was the only person who was really excited to see Beyoncé take the stage and for the rumored Destiny’s Child reunion. I thought Beyoncé killed it and it may or may not have encouraged some slightly intoxicated men at the bar to try and do the “Single Ladies” dance.

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The past is the past; while these are the halftime shows that are most memorable to me, what about the future? If I was in charge of booking the talent, the following acts would be on my wish list:

  • Journey – My love for this band is well established, but I think that they would do a great job. Their new lead singer loves to run around the stage and would be exciting to watch. Plus you are hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t secretly like Journey. A performance of “Don’t Stop Believin” would bring the house down.
  • Kanye West – I know, I know – people hate this guy. He is a little delusional and insufferable. But having seen him perform live and experiencing the crazy genius that is Kanye, I would love to see what he would do with such a performance on such a large scale. It would be bat shit crazy and totally over the top – and I’m sure that half of the country would despise every minute of it. But it would be guaranteed to be memorable, regardless. The Internet might explode.
  • Foo Fighters – Probably my favorite band, I think that they would give us a rocking crowd pleasing performance. The real challenge would be convincing them to take the gig; the Super Bowl may be too corporate for their liking and they don’t really need the bump.

Who would you like to see perform at the Super Bowl? Who have been your favorite halftime performances? Sound off in the comments below – and enjoy the game Sunday!

2013 MTV Video Music Awards

I usually don’t give the VMAs much thought; it’s not an award ceremony that really seems to mean anything and I am well outside the target demographic for the show. However, since the show is in Brooklyn this year and I almost got tickets to go, I opted to tune in and do one of my running diaries. My interest for the ceremony has been slightly piqued by the rumored N’SYNC reunion and the appearance of Jimmy Fallon, who will be presenting the Video Vanguard award to his pal Justin Timberlake. My biggest concern is that I’m not going to know who most of these people are and I’m going to feel old, but since I’m already prepared to go to bed and it’s not even 9 pm that ship has unfortunately sailed.

I’m not really sure the purpose of a video music award for a channel that doesn’t even show music videos anymore, but I’m guessing the less thought that goes into this whole experience, the better off it will be.

Pre-show

8:40 pm – I hate red carpets, but I figured I might as well pop in early to see what is happening. Pharell just rolled up on a bicycle with a whole gaggle of other riders who are doing tricks as the ride the red carpet. This is off to a promising start.

8:43 pm – Some lady I don’t know (Christina Garibaldi) is talking to some girl I don’t know (rapper Becky G, which doesn’t sound very street to me). Becky G is wearing a knit cap that says “Ain’t No Wifey.” I’m not sure what to make of that, since she looks to be about 16.

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8:50 – Yay! First Fallon appearance. It’s brief, but I’ll take it.

8:51 – I don’t know who this Austin Mahone is either, but he is also wearing a knit cap. This may be the only thing these kids associate with Brooklyn.

Awards Show

You can watch the Lady Gaga performance here.

9:00 pm – Lady Gaga does not need to have the camera so close to her face. It’s not flattering.

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9:02 – I hope they put a wig on her soon.

9:03 – Thank Goodness.

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9:04 – I’m not sure that this almost getting naked decision was necessary

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9:05 – I think I’m kind of over Gaga. That new song isn’t so great. Plus- is it just me or does she look kind of old? I dunno – something’s off here.

9:06 – No host tonight, so this will be interesting. Less annoying banter; could be a plus.

9:07 – One Direction – I had no idea what these guys actual looked like.

9:08 – Ugh – how many times are we going to cut to Taylor Swift all night

9:10 – I’ve heard every song for Best Pop Video; I feel very hip.

9:11 – Selena Gomez is sitting with Swift; I thought that they were feuding.

9:12 – Good to see that Taylor Swift is over her breakup with Harry Styles. Who knew she cursed? (I love this GIF because it makes her look nuts)

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9:13 – That was a very brief acceptance speech by Gomez. I approve.

9:15 – I love that they aren’t even bothering with actually giving out the awards; we come back from a commercial break to just a list of award winners. MTV gets it. (A complete list of winners can be found here, assuming you care)

(Side note – this Miley Cyrus performance really needs to be seen to fully appreciate the crazy. Watch it here

9:16 – Dear Lord – WHAT IS MILEY WEARING?????

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9:17 – This stage looks like a furry convention. If you don’t know who furries are, I’m not going to be the one to explain that to you. Ask your parents.

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9:18 – Miley really goes out of her way to make herself unattractive

9:18 – Miley sure does love her twerking.

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9:19 – HA! They shouldn’t cut to reaction shots of people that are bored out of their minds. Drake, you speak for us all.

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9:20 – What is it with everyone getting down to their underwear?

9:22 – Miley sticking her tongue out is distracting.

9:22 – The Will Smith family reaction to this insanity is even better

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9:23 – This show is really into props. Perhaps that is why there is no host – they were over budget.

9;24 – Someone take that foam finger away from Miley; she isn’t using it as intended and is embarrassing herself.

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9:25 – L’il Kim is still around?

9:26 – ANOTHER Taylor Swift reaction shot. If you drank every time she was on screen or they said the word Brooklyn, you’d already be passed out.

9:26 – I’m happy for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. They seem like good people, though I doubt that suit came from a thrift shop.

9:34 – I will never get over how short Kevin Hart is.

9:36 – This is going on too long.

9:37 – Hey look – it’s Jordan Catalanoi (Jared Leto to you non-My-So-Called-Life fans). Why are these people cheering? Do kids know who he is?

9:38 – Kanye – this will be something.

9:40 – Huh – shadow dancing. Not a direction I thought Yeezus would take.

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9:48 – Sorry Daft Punk – still mad at you for cancelling on Colbert

9:49 – OF COURSE Taylor Swift won. Yawn. Where’s Kanye when you need him? Interrupt this s*it.

9:50 – UGH – she takes another shot at an ex, by thanking them for being the inspiration for “I Knew You Were Trouble.” If you look up “passive aggressive” in the dictionary, you’ll find her face. Though the cut to One Direction for a reaction was subtle, MTV.

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9:52 – Best video with a social message seems like kind of a loaded category, no? No surprise that Macklemore wins again, this time for “One Love.” I’m not sure who else could have won.

9:59 – Here’s Fallon, so Timberlake in on deck.

10:00 – President of Pop? Did I miss an election?

Watch JT’s impressive performance here.

10:01 – Stop trying to make “Take Back the Night” happen Justin. You have much better songs.

10:03 – The audio on this show isn’t great.

10:06 – This is all fine and I do like Justin, but let’s hurry up on the NSync reunion.

10:07 – Lady Gaga is wearing dark sunglasses inside. She looks like Ray Charles.

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10:10 – Yay – N’SYNC! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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10:10 – Lance Bass still can’t dance; consider that stereotype shattered.

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10:11 – That was VERY brief.  JC Chavez at least had a minor solo. He’s been waiting for that moment for nearly a decade. Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick just look happy to be out of the house.

10:15 – I was under the impression that there were a lot of people at this ceremony, so why must we keep going back to Swift?

10:16 – Gaga is still wearing her shell bra from her opening performance. That seems unnecessary.

10:18 – Even if the whole reunion took about a minute, that’s still a minute longer than I ever thought we’d get. I am still surprised that Justin threw them a bone.

10:20 – Ah – those are Justin’s parents. I was wondering why they kept checking in on some old folks.

10:25 – Wait – this show is still going? I figured it was over after Justin.

10:26 – More Kevin Hart? For a guy that isn’t hosting, we’re seeing a lot of him. He should call his agent, because he’s getting ripped off.

10:27 – Hart is recycling his material from the last appearance.

10:28 – I don’t want to be around when Kanye realizes that he opened up for N’Sync.

10:29 – Song of the summer –got to be “Blurred Lines” right?

10:30 – Seriously – The One Direction song that I’ve never heard before won. That says everything you need to know about who is watching this show. (Twitter reports that there were a lot of boos at the Barclay’s Center)

10:32 – When Jason Collins said his  grandmother worried that he was going to experience prejudice before he came out, for a second I thought he meant on stage.

10:33 – From that heart thought moment to A$AP Rocky pimping his record release.

10:33 – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis take the stage to perform “One Love.”

10:34 – Kind of stinks that Mary Lambert gets to perform at the VMAs and they bring out Jennifer Hudson. Ain’t no one gonna compete with that.

10:35 – Taylor Swift looked markedly less impressed by that performance by Macklemore and company, which I am choosing to interpret as Taylor Swift does not support gay people.

10:36 – Is this a Kia commercial with the hamsters or is this another Miley Cyrus performance? Hard to tell.

10:43 – I almost knocked my laptop off my lap while trying to grab a chip. This is the most excitement that I’ve had since N’Sync was on stage.

10:43 – Wait –was that Adam Lambert? I don’t know that I recognize him without gobs of eyeliner.

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10:44 – Austin Mahone calls his fans “Mahomies.” That is embarrassing.

If you are curious about this kid, here’s one of his videos

10:45 – The surviving members of TLC. I’m really confused as to who is booking these guests – there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. When’s the last time anyone cared about TLC (and I say this as a fan)?

10:46 – I’m undecided about Drake. On the one hand, he’s all about fighting with Chris Brown, which I applaud. On the other, he is also in to dating Rihanna, who is a hot mess. Music doesn’t help me make a decision.

10:47 – Cut to Rihanna. Man, she looks high

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10:48 – The VMA seem to have suddenly remembered that people of color are in the audience.

10:54 – Ah! VH1 is doing The TLC Story this fall. This suddenly makes sense.

10:55 – It’s disappointing that One Direction isn’t up for this award that Swift is giving out for best male artist (or something). That could be awesomely awkward.

10:56 – Bruno Mars? That’s a surprise, but I’m cool with it. But that dude is TINY. He and Kevin Hart should have a short off.

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10:57 – Swift probably is already composing a song about how Bruno Mars didn’t thank her enough for handing him his award.

11:01 – I don’t know if this can be considered a legitimate music award show if neither Jay Z or Beyoncé are in attendance. Aren’t they like the first couple of Brooklyn?

11:05 – I like Bruno Mars, but he’s taking this whole “Gorilla” thing a little too literally. I know it’s the name of the song, but projecting a giant gorilla on the screen is kind of freaking me out.

11:09 – Hold the phone MTV – there is absolutely no way that “Roar” is “Katy Perry’s biggest hit ever.” That’s kooky talk.

You can watch the Katy Perry performance here.

11:16 – Should we be asking where Mrs. Timberlake (aka Jessica Biel) is tonight?

11:18 – I’m excited to see Katy Perry, mostly because this means the show is almost over.

11:19 – This whole boxing motif makes sense, but is a weird choice for Perry. Let’s hope this sports bra holds out. She’s jumping around a lot and it doesn’t look all that supportive.

11:21 – I don’t know that jump roping is ever exciting.

11:22 – For the grand finale, that was pretty underwhelming.

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In the end, that was a colossal waste of my time. The whole thing was just awful and ridiculous; I was especially bummed by the brevity of the N’Sync reunion since that was the main reason I was watching this thing to begin with. I would have been more impressed with Timberlake’s set overall had I not just seen him live so recently (plus the MTV sound quality was pretty terrible). All in all, I am SUPER glad that I didn’t get tickets to the VMAs. I would have walked away from the experience very disappointed and very confused about what I had just witnessed. Perhaps I’ll check in on the VMAs in another decade. Brooklyn – you deserved better.