People who aren’t pop fanatics have been disappointed time and time again by the Super Bowl halftime show. And with the recent announcement that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be taking center stage, this year seems to be no different. Even Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider had something to say about it:
"WTF!? @shakira and @jlo for this year's @nfl halftime show!?" wrote Snider on Twitter. "Once again the great heavy music that rocks the stadiums week after week, game after game is completely ignored. I guess we don't shake our a** enough!!"
The metal legend has a point about the rock music so often used to entertain crowds being underutilized for these shows, even if the implications about sex appeal aren't exactly productive. For one thing, it's not as if male acts like Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars haven't tapped into their own sex appeal at Super Bowl halftime shows; for another, Lopez and Shakira are extremely talented, and should put on a fun, high-energy show.
We'd also note that to some extent these shows are impacted by the games. A dud of a Super Bowl could benefit more from a full-fledged rock show to get people excited again; an engaging, competitive game may just need some pop stars to keep the party going for 45 minutes or so. There's no predicting what kind of game we're in for this year, but week-to-week NFL picks are already showing a small handful of teams separating themselves from the pack, which could mean a pretty competitive postseason. And if it's a great game, a pop act is essentially good enough for most people watching.
Even so, as Snider pointed out it’s been years since an actual rock band performed, which is a complete shame because they always bring down the house. And in light of another halftime show announced without a rock band involved, we thought we'd take the opportunity to look back on four jaw-dropping halftime performances from iconic bands.
The Rolling Stones in 2006
The Rolling Stones absolutely killed it at the Super Bowl XL halftime show. The amazing performance, however, was unfortunately tainted by the NFL’s strict censorship: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” was the only song not to get bleeped by ABC editors. The extreme editing may have had something to do with the network trying to present a "clean" production in the aftermath of the infamous 2004 Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake debacle, which had happened just two years prior. Even so though, the Stones were terrific.
Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2014
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers weren’t the 2014 Super Bowl headliners, their performance of “Give it Away” with Bruno Mars is worth mentioning. Audiences were blown away with Anthony Kiedis’s live vocals, and the Chili Peppers showcased their famously infections energy to create effect.
Granted, some fans speculated that the performance was, in fact, pre-recorded, as the band’s guitars didn’t appear to be plugged in. Famed bassist Flea took to the band’s website to clear up (and kind of confirm) the rumors.
"When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song "Give It Away" at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded,” explained Flea. "I understand the NFL's stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the TV viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."
Oh, well.... Still a good example of rock music amplifying the halftime show.
The Who in 2010
The Who’s 12-minute performance in 2010 received mixed reviews from fans. However, the criticism really had nothing to do with the band’s ability, but rather the fact that there were some sound issues. Others were unhappy with the absence of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, which is a fair enough complaint.
Despite this, the energetic performance was undeniably impressive, especially given that the majority of the band’s members were in their mid-'60s at the time.
Aerosmith in 2001
Much like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith performed alongside pop stars during their halftime show, at Super Bowl XXXV (presumably to make the show more palatable for mainstream, modern audiences). The show was a bit bizarre with Aerosmith rocking out with Britney Spears and *NSYNC - but hey, it was 2001. You couldn't get much bigger than Spears and *NSYNC on the stage at the same time back then, and audiences seemed to love Aerosmith's rendition of their hit “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
All in all, with the exception of some sound issues, it's fair to say these shows have gone well. Maybe it's time the folks in charge got another rock band onto the field!