February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Halftime Entertainment

Here's the recent history:

2001: Aerosmith (and guests)
2002: U2
2003: Shania Twain (and guests)
2004: Janet Jackson And Her All-Star Nipple
2005: Paul McCartney
2006: The Rolling Stones
2007: Prince (and guests)
2008: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2009: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2010: The Who
2011: Black Eyed Peas (and guests)
 With the exception of 2004, there was an unbroken string on what seemed like they would have been really good acts. In fact, the Janet Jackson halftime show was actually pretty good, as these things go, up until the Justin Timberlake song which I didn't much care for in the first place and which everyone forgot because it came punctuated by a split-second glance at an attractive woman's BOOBIE!OMFGwereallgonnadie concealed by a pasty as if the nation had nothing else to worry about in 2004 other than that. Prince was quite entertaining for the likes of me, but probably a bit subversive for mainstream America. The Who was a little disappointing last year, starting strong but by the end of their set, Roger Daltrey looked like he needed to go take a nap.

Still, this is a pretty consistent record of high-quality acts delivering solid musical entertainment in a compressed amount of time and with an unlimited budget for showmanship. So let's grant that with acts like Springsteen, Petty, Prince, the Stones, and McCartney to follow, the bar was set pretty high. Disappointing would have been easy. Yet despite the understandable potential to have underwhelmed, somehow the musical acts supporting this year's big game found a way to come in below expectations.
 This year, it was bad enough when Christina Aguilera botched up the lyrics of the national anthem -- and then they went ahead and did the obviously lip-synched performance with the botched lyrics. You could tell it was lip-synched because her voice had the same volume no matted how far away she held the mic from her mouth. The fact that it was lip-synched means that they could have done another take if they'd card about getting the lyrics to the national anthem correct, but obviously they didn't. At least they made her take all the hardware out of her nose in order to clear security. 

But then, we got the Black Eyed Peas at halftime. This left me wishing quietly that the NFL had gone instead with a return engagement of "Up With People." Will.i.am can't sing without autotune, Fergie can't sing period (or at least didn't, judging by her cover of "Sweet Child O'Mine" in which Slash got dredged out of the 1990's to stand there and play the same eight notes over and over and over and over again), and I have no idea what those other two guys were even doing out there because it didn't even sound like rap, much less singing. Based on how they were all dressed, I kept on hoping for Rinzler to show up and take care of business for us but there was no relief until the teams re-took the field and we could return to football.

Next year, they could do better with Kermit the Frog leading a sing-along of "The Rainbow Connection" and "It's Not Easy Being Green." I wrote that as a joke, but actually, that might be a lot fun suitable for the whole family to enjoy. And really, it's no worse an idea than a halftime show starring "Indiana Jones."

1 comment:

Patrick Card said...

Minor point. Aguilera wasn't lip-synching. I've done live audio engineering so here's take...

The reason her audio volume didn't change is that when the signal from her mic comes through the sound system, it gets processed by sophisticated digital equipment designed to keep the sound at a regular volume. What likely happens, or something similar to this, is that the audio is a little high when it comes out of the sound system initially... but before it comes out of the loudspeakers (or transmitted via TV), the equipment knocks the volume down a little to a predefined level. It's called audio limiting.

Thus, if the mic moves away from her mouth, the equipment says to itself, "Okay, because the audio was a little too high to begin with, it's now at a more normal level and I don't have to limit the signal as much... so I'm going to back off a little on my limiting so the signal stays at that predefined level." I could be wrong, but I would think that's what they were doing.

Aside from that minor critique... you're right, Aguilera's botched words were shameful. And I too had high expectations for Black Eyed Peas... both my girlfriend and I were dreadfully disappointed. I was saying they SHOULD have lip-synched the half time show in order to ensure better overall entertainment... at least we wouldn't have been distracted by how awful it was and maybe we could have enjoyed it, even if we knew it was kinda fake. Before it was even over, we were online looking for other people who thought it was awful. Even Keith Olbermann weighed in... maybe that's not surprising.