Black Eyed to My Knees

Like the crass, overblown venue where it took place, the 2011 Super Bowl halftime show was a soul-numbing spectacle that left nearly everyone at the party I attended staring quizzically at the 50-inch HD television as a group of tone-deaf aliens (plus Slash; what won't he stoop to these days?) hit the stage at Cowboys Stadium and started shouting at us while dancing haphazardly clad in futuristic, Tron-like uniforms.—-

Then there was Christina Aguilera's take on what I think was supposed to be the national anthem.

I felt embarrassed for everyone involved. (I've got to work on not being so sensitive.)

Super Bowl halftime shows have always been sketchy propositions due to the limitations of the form — mass spectacles that have to be in and out in about 20 minutes — but it seems like they've really sucked post-2004 Wardrobe Malfunction, a “controversy” that drained any possibility of spontaneity (an essential ingredient to any worthwhile musical performance) out of an already rote exercise while at the same time trying to up the ante with a big name each year.

On the other hand, the safe old fogies/nostalgia trips of recent years (Paul McCartney, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Tom Petty) at least lent an air of communal unity to a Pop music/cultural landscape that continues to fracture rapidly by the minute. (Cake’s recent chart-topping album Showroom of Compassion sold only 44,000 units the week of its ascendency, the lowest total ever recorded.)

Thinking Black Eyed Peas was surely the lowest point in Super Bowl halftime history, I dug up this factoid from the archives: 1987's show featured George Burns, Mickey Rooney and a bunch of Disney characters. (Did they even broadcast the halftime entertainment back then? I surely would have remember that one.) It wasn't until the early 1990s that it became commonplace for Pop stars of the day to do the halftime thing — to that point it was mostly themed tributes by marching bands.

OK. Maybe I spoke too soon. Maybe Super Bowl halftime shows have always sucked. But is it too much to ask that they suck a little less next year?