The Super Bowl halftime show is a pop institution, growing from its humble roots (your 1967 debut performer: the University of Arizona marching band!) to host wondrous curios (1989: "[Magician/impersonator] Elvis Presto, South Florida–area dancers, 3-D effects”) to being the leering, untamed spectacle we know and fear today. But for our purposes, we're mostly concerned with the post-Nipplegate era.
In 2002, with ’N Sync (plus Britney, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, and, for good measure, Nelly), Justin Timberlake played nice. Two years later, he showed the known universe, and possibly beyond, a pretty good view of Janet Jackson's right boob. Since then, the NFL has gone staunchly, proudly — and most importantly, effectively — conservative. Your next six Super Bowl performers: McCartney, the Stones, Prince, Petty, Bruce, and the Who, as sterling a run of unimpeachable legacy acts as could be imagined. 2011: a questionable toe dip into modernity, with the Black Eyed Peas. 2012: back to the unimpeachable, with Madonna. 2013: Beyoncé — yes, as relevant as ever, but also already canonized. And, announced over the weekend, 2014: Bruno Mars. Fuckin' Bruno Mars.
January, 2013: Beyoncé does an interview with GQ to promote her upcoming Super Bowl halftime show performance. She tells GQ she's been working on her fifth album at the Carter family's Hamptons spread. She's been hosting recording sessions with Pharrell, The-Dream, Timbaland, making tracks influenced by Prince and doo-wop. Word spreads online that the album is complete, ready for release.
February: Beyoncé performs a medley of her biggest hits at the Super Bowl. She does not premiere any new songs. In lieu of a new single or the release date for a new album, a commercial airs during the game announcing the impending kickoff of the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. In the tour's ad, Bey ballroom walks in slow motion dressed like a steampunk Marie Antoinette to the strains of a new Beyoncé song called "Bow Down/I Been On." Shortly thereafter, Bey's self-directed documentary Life Is But a Dream premieres on HBO to mostly bad reviews.
Angelina Jolie is "Surprise! Boring in bed." Whaaaaaa? This alleged information comes from shade thrown by her ex, Billy Bob Thornton, who has said, "sometimes, with the model, the actress, the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may be literally like fucking the couch." FUCK YO COUCH, BILLY BOB!
Congratulations to Marta, the MVP of the Puppy Bowl. Besides bolstering the efforts of animal rescue organizations, the Puppy Bowl serves as an adorable (I hate that word, but let's call it like it is) example of the trend of celebritizing animals: "A famous animal can become an ambassador for its species, inspiring efforts to conserve the entire population." Not that puppies are endangered. BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE?
There are times when I wish I could walk through a wardrobe and end up in a different Twitterverse, because while I have become the sort of person who has opinions about Mad Men, Girls, Nick Young, and other cultural offal, I can still remember those innocent, halcyon days when I could shit on Beyoncé without fear. For the past two years, I have stood at the helm of the Church of Beyoncé Haters and spread a gospel that warns of a beautiful alien who will trick the world into accepting branding and universality over truth and spirit. And the gospel was good.
It's possible we've been living with amateurism and aspiration for so long that when an artist achieves honest-to-God perfection we catch the Holy Ghost. Beyoncé did that to America last night. She took live spectacle to the highest power, maybe even further given the time we as a nation spend dissecting mediocrity and rubbernecking at crap ("Was that any good?" "How bad was that?"). Beyoncé's Super Bowl halftime show is a necessary corrective to televised talent competitions. Every once in a while we need a reminder of what these shows, with their platitudinous, literal-minded performers, are hoping to produce: an evening of flawless entertainment.
Here is a crowd-sourced Dunder Mifflin ad that will air during the Super Bowl in Scranton, and only in Scranton.
• Oh, and hey guys, got any hot sexy plans this weekend? Maybe gonna eat some poached veal with Larry King? Wear something trampy on your date with a pickup artist skeeve in a rape van? No? You could always try this online dating service that uses humans instead of algorithms if you’re interested in capturing the sensation of being set up by your “fabulous, drunk aunt.” Or you could save the $99 and just ask your own fabulous, drunk aunt for the hookup. Fabulous, drunk aunts have been making it happen since two-thousand-never.
In its 47 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has become something of a definitive stage for American entertainment; a pop-cultural barometer, albeit a wildly unreliable one. It has created larger-than-life onstage moments that have inspired millions and ruined careers and prompted legislation. This Sunday, Beyoncé will take the stage at the Superdome in a halftime show that, for once, promises to be pretty damn good. Which is great, because as we learned this week at the YouTube HOF, when it comes to Super Bowl halftimes, sometimes we're lucky, and sometimes the Black Eyed Peas are there.
Early last year, while speaking with Piers Morgan, Beyoncé explained that "I always said I'd have a baby at 30. I'm 29 ... I feel like 30 is the ideal age, because you're mature enough to know who you are and have your boundaries and your standards and not be afraid or too polite, but young enough to be a young woman. I'm so looking forward to it." Fast-forward to January of 2012 and, boom, Beyoncé — at the aforementioned age of 30 — makes a baby.
The point being? Never doubt Beyoncé's master plan; she's been completely in control of every element of her career, up to and throughout child-rearing. And now that Blue Ivy's old enough to get bedazzled, it's time to initiate Beyoncé's Return.
Dear 4/4 Europop House (c/o a hopeless place): Last summer was amazing and I will treasure it forever, but it's February now, and I seriously need some space. This is kind of awkward, but I'm seeing a new chick named Lana Del Rey. She is mumbly and spooky and brutally hot and all we do is smoke pineapple blunts, have weird sex, and play video games. Happy Valentine's Day. Please don't contact me ever again.
Whether you're an ecstatic Giants fan, a bereft New Englander, or one of the seemingly 14 billion Twitter users who announced a total lack of interest in the "Super Game," we can all agree on one thing: Giant corporations spent the GDP of a failing European debtor state on commercials in the hope that people on the Internet would write stories like this one. And so, in fulfillment of our end of the implicit Super Bowl contract with the automobile manufacturers, monolithic breweries, and snack-food concerns who make bathroom breaks nigh impossible (what, you think we're going to pause the DVR and risk falling 30 seconds behind the tweets, you maniacs?), we're going to hand out a bunch of very, very prestigious awards to last night's advertainment spectacles, mostly in hopes this post will go viral and be sponsored by CareerBuilder.com's Depressed Office Monkeys next year.
Well, this is a surprise: M.I.A. – the most recent victim of the Lana Del Rey Backlash-Anti-Backlash-Anti-Anti-Backlash-Whiplash Commemorative Circuit – will be performing at this Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show. As she told Zane Lowe on BBC radio last night, “Yes, I'm going to the Super Bowl… I'm gonna be performing with Madonna and Nicki Minaj... If you're gonna go to the Super Bowl, you might as well go with America's biggest female icons.” The occasion will be a performance of Madonna’s new single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” which features both M.I.A. and Nicki. A demo version of the track has leaked; the official version, plus a possibly Minaj-Madonna-smooch-featuring music video, drops on Friday. Appropriately, that’s the same day that M.I.A.’s new video, for the semi-new single “Bad Girls,” will be released. So: M.I.A.’s back?
As Grantland pointed out yesterday, some sectors of the Internet were upset about the resurrection of Ferris Bueller for a Honda Super Bowl commercial. Certainly, it feels a bit silly to get worked up about the "sacrilegious" use of a fictional comedic character -- like, this person has not died; Ferris Bueller’s family will not be shocked and appalled by his latter day public representation -- but there's a consensus formed. As Jalopnik puts it, “Sorry guys, but Matthew Broderick really was Ferris -- and this ad means Ferris grew up to be a really lame-ass adult.” As far as that goes: The sensitive sweater and shoes, the tai chi in capris, the fact that he plays the bottle-ring-toss game instead of the pop-a-shot at the carnival -- it is all sort of disheartening. And why is he alone? Why doesn’t grown up Ferris have any friends? How much money could Sloane Peterson have been demanding?!