Crowd Pleaser


While watching Superbowl XLV this weekend, I was watching the comments fly by on Facebook and Twitter, the topics starting with Christina Aguilera’s national anthem performance through the halftime show with the Black Eyed Peas, Slash, and Usher.

I was a little surprised by the huge wave of annoyance– and downright indignance in some cases– at the halftime performances. I won’t get into a debate about the show, and I’ll only say this: it was the Black Eyed Peas, Slash, and Usher. They all delivered exactly what was expected of them.

Looking at the list of halftime performances over the years, especially the last 15 years or so, I don’t see a single one that had universal appeal or didn’t elicit complaints of “lamedom.” That said, I propose the following:

The producers of the Superbowl should go back to having marching bands and/or drum corps performances at halftime, as they did in the early days of the game. After all, we’re talking about a football game, and in every other context– high school, college– football games include marching bands, not celebrity performers. The shows would be fun, and wouldn’t cost the producers nearly the amount they pay today.

There would be no complaints about lip-syncing or accusations of shameless self-promotion, and the only opportunity for a wardrobe malfunction might be someone losing his or her hat on the field.

Watching the hour or so that leads up to kickoff, it’s clear that the Superbowl is pitched as a uniquely American event. With all due respect to the artists, why then Phil Collins (2000), U2 (2002), Paul McCartney (2005), The Rolling Stones (2006), and (what was passed off as) The Who (2010)? (Sharp observers will note I left off Canadian Shania Twain’s 2003 performance, but that’s because I used to have a crush on her.) The point is: why not do something uniquely American? There are dozens of semi-pro and professional Drum and Bugle corps in the US, so why not run a national contest and have the winner do the halftime show?

I’m sure the producers of the Superbowl like to think they’ve created an event, and I agree that they have: I just think the game and the commercials pull in so many viewers that the halftime show isn’t that much of a draw– or maybe it is a draw for people who want something to criticize. I just don’t think they need to keep paying top dollar for celebrity appearances when something much more appropriate is out there.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that this idea started out at Lisa’s suggestion, who wielded a mean alto sax in high school and marched at Disney World.

A friend of mine is a director for a DCI-member drum corps, and when I proposed this to him he thought it was a great idea, and one that’s been pitched before. (I say this in case someone actually decides to go with this idea, and I don’t want to claim I said it first.) I hope one day someone in the Superbowl offices listens.

In the meantime, we get what we get. Next year, I’m turning off the computer during the game.