By Mike Mehalick, Staff Columnist
The Super Bowl Halftime show; sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes featuring Indiana Jones, sometimes featuring Janet Jackson’s strange nipple piercing. Always interesting, however, is the build up to the performance with a worldwide audience and platform for acts that ranks among the most coveted gigs any band could book.
Since that aforementioned Ms. Jackson-if-you’re-nasty hiccup back in 2004 the people behind putting together the halftime entertainment have opted for legendary fogies with stadium shaking anthems and way less interesting nipples. That tradition changed course last year with the Black Eyed Peas laughable spectacle, complete with Slash accessory, after an equally laughable, but for different reasons, laser light flame out by the living half of The Who.
So when it was announced that Madonna would be Super Bowl XLVI’s main attraction, you know aside from the game and the commercials, it wasn’t as much a shock as it was more of an utter disappointment. Not to take anything away from Grandma Monster, I don’t think she’s played to an arena with an empty seat in eons and her hits speak for themselves, but as an NFL fan and a Giants fan I can think of about one thousand songs I’d rather hear than “Vogue” or “Ray of Light” at halftime of the Super Bowl, and I doubt I’m in the minority on this one.
With all things considered we present to you a list of bands that would not only bring the appropriate je ne sais rock to the proceedings but would also, in some cases, shed a global light on younger bands on the cusp of stadium status.
The fact that the most prolific metal band in history hasn’t gotten the invite to bring their arena-thrash stylings to the Super Bowl stage yet just may go to show how befuddling the selection process is for those involved. Haven’t we reached the point where we look at Metallica and see Basquiat collectors and Lou Reed collaborators instead of beer soaked ripped jeans and “Hit the Lights” style anarchy? If the general American population still finds Metallica to be too extreme of a rock band alongside past performers like Tom Petty or Aerosmith then maybe we shouldn’t all be gathering to watch grown super freak athletes beat the shit out of each other for 3 hours all while drinking to excess. Say what you will about the band’s diminishing studio returns, but Metallica can still get it up night after night and you can’t say that about most bands their age. We may only have a few good years left before the speed of their catalogue becomes too much for the aging Ulrich, Hammet, and Hetfield.
2) Arcade Fire
Why the fuck not? Seriously? If we live in a world where youth voters can get Barack Obama into the White House then why not, one time, take a shot on a band that twenty years from now will likely take the crown from Radiohead as the “most important band in the world”. Hell, it’s basically a given whenever Thom and friends decide to hang it up and be fatter, crappier, and less productive. Arcade Fire may not have the significant radio play to get the soccer moms excited but they’ll listen to whatever crawls across their lite fm dial so why are we catering to them anyway? A Super Bowl halftime performance could be just the thing that pushes Arcade Fire completely over the top and the frenetic energy they bring would be a welcome change from previous years.
3) Foo Fighters
An obvious choice for the general Super Bowl audience and for those of us who like our modern arena rock not so Nickelback-y; Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters are the epitome of what a Super Bowl halftime act should be. Loud, fun, and backed with enough hits that even Grandma Jeanie might hum a few bars of “My Hero” while sitting in the corner with half a glass of white wine and those cold, judging eyes always just…judging. And just think of all the different collaborative possibilities given Grohl’s extensive history. I can see it now; Josh Homme on one side of the stage, Brian May on the other, Lemmy in the middle, and you could even throw in Tenacious D because nothing says “bro it’s halftime, grab my legs while I do this keg stand,” more than hearing “Tribute” on national television. Depending on which way the pendulum swings, like if they book Lady Gaga next year, the Foo’s seem like an eventual lock to one day rock the Super Bowl stage. Too bad it’s not this year.
4) Jay – Z & Kanye West
Arguably you could say that either rap mogul could hold down a spotlight at big as this, but when it comes to the Super Bowl and Jay – Z & Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” team-up, nothing is too grandiose. The pair would serve as a half time party starter for the millions of youths that the NFL and their various sponsors would love to tap into, but at the same time potentially alienate those anyone above the age of 30 in landlocked states (hell anything could offend those people). It would also be the first rap act, other than Nelly in a guest role, to ever hold down the Super Bowl stage, unless you count The Black Eyed Peas and we don’t. With all the hype surrounding the biggest game of the year wouldn’t it make sense to grab the two most hyped acts on the face of the Earth right now? I’m sure Madonna will hit her cues and half lip sync appropriately, but who needs dancing when you can do this…
It’s a well-known fact that the NFL has been trying to expand into foreign, namely English, markets for years now. I mean once everyone in America is football crazy where else can you go to make more money? Even to the point that it’s been rumored that the league is considering a Super Bowl in London. As much as that last sentence made me cringe (imagine Man U and Chelsea playing a title game in Tampa) there’s one clear cut easy answer for the NFL to boost its red coat profile. This band Radiohead, you’ve heard of them right? They headline festivals all over the world, make music nerds collectively wet themselves with each Thom Yorke falsetto. For some reason, probably because they were born there, Radiohead is like totally big in the UK (LOL!). Just leave the “King of Limbs” stuff at home boys. I’m a fan, but I know you’d have a better chance of distracting my Top 40 friends from doing jello shots at half time with some kind of “Airbag” / “Bodysnatchers” / etc. medley then doing a “Lotus Flower” top hat dance all over the 50 yard line.