Monday, February 06, 2012

Madonna and friends at the Superbowl

I don't remember hearing "America the Beautiful" sung at the Superbowl before, is this a new tradition?  Is the NFL taking cues from the WWE again?  During the introductions they also played "Written in the Stars" by Tinie Tempah Ft. Eric Turner, which was the theme song for Wrestlemania last year (I'm not sure if it was played in the stadium or just for the TV broadcast, but I think I heard it in the stadium).

During Kelly Clarkson's very capable version of the national anthem, I wondered how exactly one gets chosen for this sort of gig.  Singing the national anthem at a high profile sports event, especially the Superbowl, is just about the highest profile appearance you can get.  I understand how it works If the singer is connected to the network somehow, e.g. a Glee cast member singing at a football game broadcast on Fox, but otherwise, do record companies pitch for this stuff?  I feel the answer is obvious to most people other than me, I mean, how many high profile sports events have I seen without giving this much thought ... ?

I really enjoyed Madonna's performance, it's up there with Prince's as possibly the best Superbowl halftime show in recent memory.  Although music-wise, I much prefer Madonna to Prince, her show had a number of flaws -- some dodgy sounding vocals (a mixture of live and lip synched singing), a video floor that was bright and busy to the point of distraction -- whereas Prince's didn't really have any.  This is exactly the sort of spectacle I expect to see in a Superbowl halftime show -- part concert, part circus, part light and video show -- that you can't get from a performer like, say, Tom Petty.  You have to have a deep and varied catalogue to pull off crowd pleasing singalongs, uptempo dance numbers, ballads, a bit of funk, a bit of epic, insane choreography, unanticipated drum/guitar/voice solos, and cool guest spots all within a brief but action packed twelve minute time window.  Prince and Madonna can pull off that kind of show without even trying, whereas acts that wrote the same song over and over for thirty years (e.g The Rolling Stones) cannot. 

Cee-Lo Green sounded amazing and very nearly stole the show, which he tends to do at spectacle and awards shows such as these, Nicki Minaj was terrific as usual, MIA is of course a load of crap. Watching live, I completely missed her flipping the bird because I was thinking about her complete lack of talent as a singer or rapper, especially in comparison to fellow cheerleader Nicki Minaj, whom she had to follow.  I know that giving someone the finger on TV isn't exactly shocking in 2012, and it's not like I'm worried that this might corrupt the youth of America or anything like that.  But if you're going to brush this off with "get over it, it's 2012", then you also have to recognize that in these technologically advanced, supposedly enlightened times, there are a million ways to make a statement and get your message out, and an equal number of times and places where it's advisable to do so.  Halftime at the Superbowl is not one of those times.

I didn't think MIA could possibly do anything that would make me respect her less, but once again she outdid herself.  First off, she crapped all over Madonna, whose coattails she was riding last night, ensuring that the post-show gossip would centre on her rather than on the megastar that people tuned in to see.  But most of all, MIA is completely clueless to the fact that she's a sellout.  It doesn't get more red state, Jesus worshipping, heart of corporate America than the Superbowl.  No matter how much of a rebel you think you are in your own mind, when you accept an offer to appear at the Superbowl, then you're getting into bed with all those things whether you like it or not.  Accept it and go along for the ride, or stick to your "principles" and find another publicity outlet.  It's pathetic to see a celebrity, who married into one of the world's richest families, trying to stick it to the Man with ridiculous stunts on one hand, while living the lifestyle of the Man on the other.  What's even more pathetic is that she truly believes that this makes her every bit the rebel that her infamous father was, like she's carrying on his legacy or something.   

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