Halftime Show Reconsidered

by Griffin Fillipitch

Kenneth Parcell said it best: “More than jazz or musical theater or morbid obesity, television is the true American art form.” And the biggest day of the year for TV comes on Sunday. You may think I’m referring to another Comedy Central broadcast of “Joe Dirt,” but I am not.

The Super Bowl has gone through many phases. At one point it was just the final game of the NFL season. Then it started being about the halftime show. Then it was about the commercials. Now, I think it is about food more than anything else, which is where I think and hope it will stay for some time.

Whatever it is about, it allows us all to gather. By now, Super Bowl Sunday is almost more of a national holiday than the Fourth of July. I know you’ve heard this one, but I’ll add it for emphasis: more people watch the Super Bowl than vote in our presidential elections. So even though my natural reaction to hearing that Madonna would be performing at the halftime show this year was to just not care at all, maybe I should. Maybe we all should. This is a thoroughly American day, and we’ll all be watching. Shouldn’t we try a little harder?

Not that Madonna would have been a bad choice in her late ’80s (or whenever it was) prime. She is one of the biggest stars of the past thirty years, so maybe the answer to my next question is “A lot of people,” but I’ll ask it anyway. Does anyone really want to see Madonna perform?

She occupies a weird middle space between the two categories a halftime show can fall into. She is kind of similar to ubiquitous but older and safer acts (Tom Petty, The Who, Paul McCartney) that the halftime show has favored since the infamous wardrobe malfunction of 2004. Even the Black Eyed Peas, who performed there last year, make a point of being completely unobjectionable to anyone. Madonna occupies this space in that she has been around for long enough for everyone to know who she is, and at least one of her songs.

But she also has a foot in the potentially scandalous, sexual camp that the show has, in the past few years, tried to distance itself from. I think this is the Super Bowl showing us how edgy it is again, while really not being edgy at all. Obviously, we’ll have to wait for the actual show to verify this, but that is how it feels. It’s not that Madonna is a bad choice, she is just an insanely boring choice. This is nothing new for the Super Bowl halftime show, but again, we’ll all be watching. Try a little harder.

What the show does have going for it are Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., who are rumored to be making guest appearances. They are both electrifying artists and performers, with egos big enough for the arena, and recently were featured on a forthcoming Madonna single.

The obvious question is, if it shouldn’t be Madonna, who would be better? The first thing that comes to mind is keeping Nicki and M.I.A. and losing Madonna. That would be an awesome show and they both are close to household name status. But you would still be lacking the star power that the show usually has. Okay, how about Kanye West and Jay-Z play a few songs from “Watch the Throne” and then transition into some of their most popular solo stuff? It doesn’t get much bigger than that. Coldplay would be just about as safe and boring a choice as Madonna, but at least they are actually British and not fake-British. Plus, somewhere deep down, whether or not we want to admit it, we all love Coldplay. Don’t deny it.

What they should really do is just have Prince perform every year. He killed it that one time. Am I wrong on this stuff? Who should it be?