Tag Archives: Super Bowl

“The Middle”

One of the all-time best Super Bowl commercials, and certainly the best-ever ad for a car company, was aired 10 years ago during Super Bowl XLV. The ad, known both as “Born of Fire” and “Imported from Detroit,” shows Eminem rolling through the streets of Detroit. The images were not all chamber-of-commerce shiny and bright. The edge nature of the crumbling environment, a situation that led to people visiting to see the post-industrial archelogy in front of their eyes (not exactly Pompei-like ruins, but certainly not necessarily a place you’d like to take a Sunday walk). The soundtrack is an instrumental version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” He is driving what was then a new Chrysler 200.

You see the Robert Graham “Monument to Joe Louis,” a sculpture that is better known around these parts as “The Fist,” which is located at the foot of Woodward at Jefferson, and you know that Detroit is not a city that is like any other.

Eminem drives the 200 to the Fox Theatre, a classic movie house opened in 1928 and completely rehabilitated by the company that owns Little Caesar’s Pizza (yes, that is from Detroit, as is Domino’s), where the marque outside reads “Keep Detroit Beautiful.” The narrator to that point had talked about how Detroit isn’t New York, Chicago, Vegas, “And we’re certainly no one’s Emerald City.”

He walks down an aisle of the theater, which has long been a music venue rather than a movie house, and on the stage there’s the Selected of God choir, wearing their Sunday robes and singing, as the instrumental “Lose Yourself” builds.

Eminem turns to the camera, accusatorially points his finger, and says, “This is the Motor City and this is what we do.”

“God damn right,” Detroiters everywhere nodded.

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From the Sports Desk (Yeah, Right)

This coming Sunday Super Bowl LV will be held in Tampa. The LV for those of you who have given up counting like an ancient Roman is 55. Tampa is in Hillsborough County, Florida, which is far below places like Miami-Dade County when it comes to COVID-19 cases and deaths (as of February 1, M-D: 373K cases; 4,905 deaths//Hillsborough, 101K; 1,319 deaths), but it still makes the top 5.

The main act during the halftime show is The Weeknd. Presumably he has been residing in the U.S. because he is Canadian, and the U.S.-Canadian border is closed to all non-essential travel until February 21 due to the pandemic, and somehow acts at a football game don’t seem like the definition of “essential.”

According to the NFL, there will be 25,000 fans and 30,000 cutouts in attendance at Raymond James Stadium, which has a capacity of 65,890 humans. Presumably you could really stack in the cutouts.

For some people, the Super Bowl is about the game (in this case, the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). For other people it is about the ads. And for a non-trivial number, the halftime show. (In case you are wondering, Super Bowl I’s halftime performers were the University of Arizona and Grambling State marching bands. Isn’t that somehow more football appropriate than a guy who has racked up three Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards?)

The Morning Consult, which has become my go-to place for things of a statistical nature, has surveyed U.S. adults to get their favorability ratings for the Super Bowl halftime shows from XLIV, which was held in 2010, to LIV, last year. In terms of performers for those two games, it was a band that liked to call itself “The Who” in 2010 and Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin in 2020.

The people surveyed were given three choices: Favorable. Don’t Know/No Opinion. Unfavorable.

The performer who has been the most popular at the Super Bowl in the last decade? Bruno Mars. His performance in 2014, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was rated 59% Favorable and just 14% Unfavorable.

The performer who has been the least liked? Madonna. Her 2012 halftime show, with LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Cee Lo Green, had a Favorable rating of 44% and an Unfavorable number of 32%. That is not only the lowest Favorable number (there is a six-point difference to the next lowest, Maroon 5, featuring Travis Scott and Big Boi, at 50%), it is the highest Unfavorable number (with Maroon 5, featuring Travis Scott and Big Boi at 25% Unfavorable).

With the exception of Madonna, all of the other acts are all 50% or more Favorable.

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The Pepsi (Non) Challenge

While there may have been some consternation or disappointment that Lady Gaga didn’t take the opportunity at the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show (PZSSBH) to make a political statement of some sort regarding the Muslim ban, the dissing of two U.S. allies, nominations of an array of Wall Street billionaires to the Cabinet, throwing shade on federal judges, making outlandish claims about voter fraud, or comparing American citizens with Vladimir Putin, did you happen to notice that this was the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl Halftime Show?

There’s no business like show business and something like the PZSSBH is the biggest business of them all each January on screens across the planet.

It has long been a mystery to me why there are performers like Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But it is less of a mystery when you figure that there are those who are going to watch the Super Bowl because they like football and so they’re going to watch the Super Bowl, or those who are going to watch the Super Bowl because they are at a party where there are so many and so large screens that it is impossible not to watch the Super Bowl, and then there are those who might click over every now and then to see if they can catch a commercial. Or if there is some performer playing at the stadium with a stage set that is only dwarfed by those used for the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

You want to sell those people some Pepsi Zero Sugar. You hire Gaga.

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Superbowl Producer Hates Live Music

Super Bowl pre-game show producer Rickey Minor admits that Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill Lip-Synched:

Minor explained that he insisted that both Hudson and Faith Hill, who performed “America the Beautiful” before Hudson, sing to the prerecorded tracks the NFL requires them to submit a week before the game.

“That’s the right way to do it,” Minor said. “There’s too many variables to go live. I would never recommend any artist go live, because the slightest glitch would devastate the performance.”

What a crock of shit. Why even bother trotting the singers out there then? Wouldn’t a nice video montage of soldiers and nurses and cops and teachers make for even better television?

The Associated Press has more.

Springsteen to Rock Super Bowl XLIII

Six years ago yesterday on Glorious Noise, Johnny Loftus compared the NFL season to a world tour by your favorite rock band. Specifically, he explored the similarities between Bruce Springsteen and the Chicago Bears:

Brian Urlacher is not Bruce Springsteen. While the Chicago Bears’ leading tackler and unassuming team leader was a free safety, wide receiver, AND punt returner at New Mexico, Urlacher could not at press time sell out the United Center based on his strength as a songwriter, singer, and bandleader. Nevertheless, Urlacher’s weekly onfield heroics and meat and potatoes demeanor are a rallying point for many Chicagoland football fans. And while he’s never sold out the UC, Urlacher’s passion between the goalpoasts is a big reason why so many Chicagoans make the trip to downstate Champagne for Bears home games, played away while Soldier Field is on the DL. He gives them something to believe in, and please don’t make any Poison bits here. Because the NFL’s highly-paid heroes are, for many Americans, as singularly heroic as a rock and roller like Bruce Springsteen.

I guess we were a little ahead of our time because the National Football League has announced that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play the halftime slot at the Super Bowl on February 1 in Tampa Bay.

Is Loftus some kind of crazy prophet or something? GLONOstradamus, baby!

Prince Reigns at Super Bowl XLI

The Purple BadnessPrince steps into the cultural madness and freakshow that is the Super Bowl halftime event to show America what it means to blow this motherfucker out.

The Super Bowl halftime show has become as much a part of the event as the game itself. What started with college marching bands filling time between halves has evolved (or devolved, as the case may be) into an entertainment extravaganza that rivals the most elaborate North Korean flip tile spectacle and is a tacit acknowledgement that the performer is a bona fide cultural icon. That kind of elevation is generally a sign that the artist in question has also probably passed into artistic irrelevancy. That’s why it was so great to see The Purple One put on an exhibition of true rock genius.

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That Dog Doesn’t Bite: Super Bowl XXXIX

He said grass. And hell.McCartney. Half-time show.

That’s all that needs to be said. People immediately know what is being discussed. Which is, in some ways, disturbing. Why is it that there is a nigh-on universal recognition of a game being played by a bunch of people who are otherwise undifferentiated (outside of their speed, bulk, dexterity, or other functions) for most of the year? Why do we watch? The train-wreck phenomenon?

Much of the commentary about the half-time show is probably going to be centered on the fact that having Sir Paul play is the “safe” route. Although this is contextual. Back in the day, The Beatles would have as controversial as Janet’s bejeweled breast. That would have been during, say, Super Bowl I. Presumably, however, there are those who want to “protect” us who are parsing the lyrics of “Get Back,” which will bring the wrath of Whomever down on the head of McCartney, no doubt.

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Meditations on Janet Jackson’s Right Breast

I'm-a have you nekkid by the end of this song...To be sure, the fact that Justin Timberlake removed a portion of Janet Jackson’s Genghis Khan-like costume during the MTV-orchestrated Super Bowl half time show is well known. Presumably, this has more to do with the fact that Janet’s career is about as over as M.C. Hammer’s: they can both do a great job of bustin’ a move, but who the hell has been thinking about buying discs from either of those two? Since Janet posed a few years ago for a Rolling Stone cover with her breasts covered by a man’s hands, it is evident that she’s not in the least bit shy about showing her well-rounded skin. What’s somewhat interesting about the whole thing is that unless someone was watching the CBS telecast with a high-definition plasma screen about the size of something found in a multiplex, the exposure was something that would be best measured by physicists at Argonne National Lab, as it had the half life of one of those new transuranic elements that have just been found.

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That’s Entertainment

Graham Greene, a 20th century author who worked in a variety of literary genres, made a distinction in classifying his work as either a “serious” work or an “entertainment.” Greene did write about serious issues in some of his novels—most notably the meaning and sustaining of faith in a world that oftentimes wracks us with existential doubt. But he also wrote stories that were meant to amuse us, to reduce the amount of ratiocination required while perusing the words on the page. I’ve always thought that this distinction between the two types of work is a good one.

Although Johnny deals with some aspects of Super Bowl XXXVII in the post below, I’d like to make a few different observations about what is evidently a testosterone-fueled event that has taken on mega-Dionysian proportions during the past few years. It is interesting to look back at Hunter Thompson’s writings on his holding forth on the scriptures while on the balcony of a Hyatt with what was perceived a large leech crawling up the back of his spine on a Super Bowl Sunday morning. The absurdity of the actual event in and of itself today is in many ways far in excess of what was then chronicled by Thompson as something that was bizarre.

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Some Final Words on Super Bowl XXXVII

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.

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