This is true: Up With People has performed at FOUR, yes FOUR, Super Bowl halftime shows. I know what you’re thinking: shouldn’t they have performed at all of them? That was my thought.
Now there have been some good halftime shows. I thought that Lady Gaga was great. So was Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars and Prince. But the history of Super Bowl halftime shows is much more varied than these performers. If you check, you will see the halftime shows originally featured college marching bands. The Grambling State University marching band has performed at more Super Bowl halftime shows than any other performer: six! But check out this video - they're a wee bit more interesting than the Up With People crowd:
But Grambling was a long time ago. Eventually, the Super Bowl started using modern pop acts, classic rock favorites, and big country stars to attract more viewers to the game. That decision coincided with the explosion of the Super Bowl into America’s premier television event. In fact, the ratings for the game soared with the Michael Jackson Super Bowl performance in 1993, countering the programming that other networks had put on to try and attract viewers away from the game. Ultimately, the Super Bowl became the iconic American event that EVERYONE now watches, partly because of the halftime musical spectacle.
I push a lot of music here that is out of the current mainstream, but that is great and vibrant. I also disrespect music from dinosaur artists, hip hoppers, and modern pop stars who put out bland but ubiquitous background music. I think that a lot of newer rock acts would make it if they got more widespread exposure. And my Big Super Bowl Halftime Show Idea would test that theory. And because the NFL needs to buy into it (they are, after all, the decisionmakers), I need to do something that helps to expand their product – and god knows, they need some help right now as ratings are in free fall. Take a knee with that concussion, ok?
Here’s my big idea: the NFL introduces a “playoff” system for musical acts, leading to two of them getting the big show at the Super Bowl. But not just any musical acts. They pick “up and comers” from different genres: country, rock, pop, hip hop. And those acts compete against each other during the playoffs, with the TV audience selecting who “wins” and moves on to the next game. And, ultimately, who becomes the musical Super Bowl champs.
This accomplishes a few things. First, it gives opportunity, and America is nothing if it’s not the land of opportunity. Next, it gives reason for the casual or non-fan to watch the playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl, gives them an active participatory role right through the big game, and thus expands the potential fan base. Third, because these acts are not yet huge, it probably pushes out the “spectacular” vision of the current halftime shows and replaces it with something more modest. America needs a return to modesty. Fourth, it lets Americans decide who will face off against each other in the big game and instills competition into the whole thing. Other than opportunity, what could be more American than cut-throat competition? And finally, it takes the decisionmaking process out of the hands of a bunch of rent-seeking billionaires who thought that Up With People was a good choice, not once but four times! Is this guy in his blue leisure suit truly our musical gatekeeper:
Let’s set some other ground rules. The show has to be “family friendly.” Yeah, yeah, I heard you moan, but that’s what the NFL does now. And it makes sense. Our culture pushes enough crap down the throats of our youth, so can’t we push something that won’t make you cringe if you’re watching it with your kids? Dilly dilly.
Oh, and American football is uniquely American. Unlike even baseball, where there are professional leagues in places like Japan (where there is a team named the Carp) and Venezuela, American football remains firmly popular only in North America. So let’s use this opportunity to push American artists. Non-American artists can vie for the Olympics or soccer’s world cup or something. But since this is an American game, and the Super Bowl is America’s biggest stage for that game, let’s stick with the 330 million of us to come up with something worth watching. After all, as the Blasters sing, we invented all of these musical genres, right?
What do you say? Is this not a great idea? Hell, I’m a font of ideas: just ask The Man (who might agree so long as the word “good” is not put in front of the word “ideas”). And if you disagree, that’s cool so long as you let us all know what is your big Super Bowl idea.
I’ve got to run. I have an appointment with NFL execs up in Manhattan. Nah, that’s not true, I actually have to go get gas in my car and figure out what’s for dinner tonight. As you go about your day, remember that I’m here anytime. There’s no shame in hanging out with BRP regardless of what your co-workers or friends might say. In fact, while no one else knows it yet, you’re hanging with the cool crowd. So go chill and have a great day, rockers.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.