Critique: Black Eyed Peas Superbowl Halftime Show.

I’ve seen enough Superbowls to understand how the Halftime show works. Some musical act gets center stage for about 10 minutes to a captive audience of millions. This ten minutes is filled with a medley of their most popular music. The groups chosen are usually chosen for their widespread appeal.

Before I go further, I want it to be clear that I am, in fact, a Black Eyed Peas fan. I have all their albums since Fergie joined the group. I find their upbeat, positive message music appealing and easy to listen to. Their use of Autotune is obvert and artistic as opposed to using it surreptitiously to hide flaws in their singing ability. In my opinion Fergie is an excellent singer and the rest of the group are passable, but their style doesn’t demand vocal talent on the level of Celene Dion anyway.

At the Superbowl party I attended, I was in the middle, age-wise, with two guys a couple years older and two a couple years younger than my forty-one. I was the only one who didn’t view the Black Eyed Peas as a joke.

But, I can see why people thought the halftime show was a joke. The LED costumes of the dancers were almost pretty, almost, but not quite. It was striking. Striking isn’t always good. The vast human lightshow seemed to actually not only distract, but detract from the performance. Medleys are hard to pull off anyway, because just as the audience get into one song, the song changes.

The Good:

Though Autotune was up and running, the singing was live and not pre-recorded.

The costuming for the group was drastic and I liked the shoulder pads on Fergie as a way to deal with any potential wardrobe malfunctions. Though no-one else at the party had anything positive to say on the costuming, it was as I’d expect from the future-techno-pop-hip-hop styles of BEP.

Slash and Fergie’s cover of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” was a fresh take on an old classic and it was cool to see Slash up there with her.

The bad:

Slash and Fergie’s cover of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” didn’t really fit into the rest of the show.

Usher had no business there either.

I half expected Neil Young on stage next after the other two disjointed additions to the performance.

There is a distinct rift between the Superbowl audience and the Black Eyed Peas Audience. Despite being one of the most popular music acts in decades, there is a large gap in their appeal that seems to coincide with the NFL’s prime audience.

The Who, The boss and even Prince are more targeted at the traditional audience of professional football. The BEPs mostly appeal to the younger crowd who haven’t learned to appreciate watching professional sports, either as a social activity or out of actual interest in the game. If the Justin Timberlake show hadn’t had the wardrobe malfunction, people would have noticed the audience gap then.

The ideal Halftime Show Act is an act that directly appeals to the forty-something or fifty-something audience. I’m not saying this from a selfish perspective, but the audience of the Superbowl spans the age spectrum. Classic Rock or Classic Pop music is something everyone grew up on. There aren’t any acts still around from before the golden age of rock.

The Black Eyed Peas, talented as they are, just don’t have the history, or the catalogue, to sustain a Halftime show, as evidenced by their inclusion of Slash and Usher. It was a good effort, but with their faces and music everywhere these days, the Superbowl halftime show was superfluous and underappreciated.


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