Celine Dion, “God Bless America” – The woman has an extremely large, extremely froggy voice, a husband whose first job was as a deckhand on Sir Walter Raleigh’s frigate, a promotional contract with Daimler-Chrysler, and an irritating French-Canadian accent. While all of these things bother me, it’s the last two that REALLY cream my brie. I mean, did the CFL get Mariah Carey to sing “Oh, Canada” at the Gray Cup? And as Chrysler bought ad time during the Super Bowl, was there some back-end hanky panky going on to install the company’s newest spokeswoman onstage? (This paragraph is funnier when read while impersonating Dion’s stupid, pinchy-mouthed accent.)
Dixie Chicks, “The National Anthem” – These girls can sing. Natalie Maines has a distinctive voice, one which immediately stands out while your car radio scans for music. As she harmonized with her bandmates, their collective voices and the inventive arrangement made for one of the more interesting performances of the anthem in recent memory. Or at least it was better than that kid on the “American Idol” premiere.
Santana, featuring Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Branch – What can be said about Carlos Santana that hasn’t already been said by Rob Thomas? What CAN be said is this: Beyonce Knowles was pure, undiluted sexual energy on that stage. Purple dress whipping in the wind, hair flying every which way, and a slightly psycho she-devil dance, coupled with gutteral yowls and yelps, Knowles’ performance was like seeing the id made physical. And then poor Michelle Branch had to lip-synch the weak-minded single she sings on Santana’s new record. Branch’s decision to fake it was a bad idea, but it was erased from memory by what was to follow at halftime.
Shania Twain, “Feel Like a Woman/Up” – More like “I feel like not singing.” Here was Shania out in front of the same group of dingbats who supported her at the recent American Music Awards. But at least Twain SANG at that show. And to make the fakery as obvious as it was, with backing vocals from backup singers who weren’t visible on stage? That’s even worse. Shania’s ham-fisted wool-pull is only another example of supposed “live” performances that instead become an analysis of what’s live and what’s Memorex. During Twain’s big finish, all the room I was in could talk about what how demeaned it felt to be lip-synched to on live television.
Bon Jovi, “Now Or Never” – Never.
For Johnny’s coverage of last year’s Super Bowl XXXVI, click here.