At halftime of Super Bowl I between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, the marching bands of the University of Arizona and Grambling State University joined a local drill team to entertain a crowd of more than 60,000 at Los Angeles’ Coliseum.
An estimated 51 million tuned into the game on television, but the Super Bowl intermission 44 years ago was nothing more than an extended bathroom break.
Throughout much of the 1970s and into the ‘80s, the Super Bowl halftime show was primarily an opportunity for amateur musicians from select universities to rub elbows with established professionals.
Between 1976-86, the festivities were produced four times by Up with People, an international non-profit education organization best known for casting students from all over the world in musical performances.
Nobody paid much mind. Low interest and brief air time meant no sponsors.
In 1979, Carnival sponsored the halftime show of Super Bowl XIII, but that was it for the first 22 Super Bowls.
Gradually, though, as the game itself has become more of an event and a holiday of sorts, the demand for producing a spectacle that elicits every known human emotion between the second and third quarters has also risen.
Rather than spend it in the bathroom or refilling the chip bowl, people nowadays plan their Super Bowl Sunday around the halftime show.
Forget the game. Not exciting enough.
No more simple drumlines. Music majors are still welcome, but their identities will be concealed in the shadows cast by the egos of the acts hovered above them on the main stage.
Never mind in-depth analysis of the first half; that’s what the NFL Network is for. The modern Super Bowl halftime show is for people who pretend to care about football one day per year.
Up with People, you’re out—Michael Bay will be producing a halftime show any day now.
That’s how ridiculous it’s gotten.
Big names had entertained the Super Bowl masses before, but the shift toward chasing surrealism began in 1993, when the late Michael Jackson assumed the duties all by his lonesome and produced one of American television’s most-watched programs.
Not the game, the actual halftime show.
So bright and blinding was Jackson’s celebrity, FOX declined to run counter-programming during Super Bowl XXVII. For the first time in Super Bowl history, viewership numbers actually increased for the halftime show.
In the spirit of chasing that moment in history, producers of proceeding halftime shows have resorted to a mix of the emotional and sensational, blending musical tributes to certain genres with notorious moments of staged wardrobe malfunction.
I still say the Janet Jackson breast-flash was terribly contrived.
On Sunday, the Black Eyed Peas will shed their Super Bowl halftime virginity.
The intergender quartet is no stranger to the outlandish. The group will have no issues meeting the halftime show’s qualifiers, which include, first and foremost, outdoing the act from the year before and justifying the millions of dollars invested in accompanying pyrotechnics, shenanigans, lasers, sideshows and electronic music sampling.
Yes, you can bet the group will perform its hideous rendition of “Time of My Life.”
Unofficial frontman Will.I.Am will be wearing God knows what. His wardrobe will pale in comparison to whatever will be worn by Fergie, who may very well let a boob or two fly.
Maybe even a third breast, which still wouldn’t quite yet be par for the course.
It will all be so delicious in its crappiness that the poor kids from the Prairie View A&M University Marching Band could play “Hot Cross Buns” out of tune and no one would bat a lash.
Super Bowl XLV could have the worst halftime show in history, yet it would hardly be unique.
Every Super Bowl has the worst halftime show in history. In my opinion, what used to be based on pageantry is now a corporate-funded orgy of music, predictable fan participation and bloated Hollywood personalities.
Bring back the simpler times, when starry-eyed youths were given center stage.
If not the kids, bring back Bud Bowl.
At least watching 22 beer bottles participate in a game of football felt like less of a farce.
And it didn’t cost nearly as much.