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The Debate on Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Posted by Matt Terl on January 28, 2009 – 3:38 pm

I walked into a bit of an argument today — or maybe heated conversation would be more accurate. Essentially, Kedric Golston and Lorenzo Alexander maintain that Mary J. Blige is just as well known as Bruce Springsteen. Not as popular, exactly, nor as successful, but possessing just as much name recognition. On the other side — the “Bruce Springsteen has sold over fifteen million records” side — were physical therapist Elliott Jermyn and Alex Buzbee.

What prompted the entire discussion was, of course, the fact that Bruce Springsteen is the scheduled Super Bowl halftime show. This fact has caused no end of discomfort for Springsteen’s fans, and I’m less than thrilled with the selection myself, although for completely different reasons.

Following on the heels of Tom Petty at last year’s game, this seems like an awful lot of Old White Guy classic rock two years in a row. On the other hand, I’m not sure that Mary J. Blige (or someone else of her stature) is going to keep people glued to their TVs.

Over at Shutdown Corner, Chris Chase counts down his top five all-time memorable Super Bowl halftime shows, and does a solid job of it. One of the ones he misses, though, seems to me to be the best model to follow: the Aerosmith/*NSync/Britney Spears/Mary J. Blige/Nelly performance from Super Bowl XXXV.

I’m not the hugest fan of any of these acts — and if I never, ever hear “Walk This Way” again it will still have been 25,000 times too many in my life — but they cover a spectrum, one that manages to include not only pop, hip-hop, and rock, but also “old white guys” AND “performers with immediate cultural relevancy” AND “female artists” all at the same time.

The fans on the field have been well-coached to seem enthusiastic no matter what, so why not try to develop a halftime show that will appeal to people with lots of different tastes (and that won’t lead to long, confusing arguments in the training room)?

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