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Category Archives: Culture

It’s sad that after almost 90 years of existence, the NFL still has no idea who their target audience is. In a poorly received attempt to seem “hip” the Superbowl featured Christina Aguilera singing the national anthem, and the Black Eyed Peas doing the halftime show. Both of these choices proved to be embarrassments.

In fairness, Christina Aguilera can sing her proverbial ass off. Unfortunately for the NFL that’s exactly what she did. Flubbing the lines to The Star Spangled Banner, while a tad unprofessional, can easily be hand-waved away as mere nerves. Unfortunately (I’m using that word a lot) the lyrical gaffe was far from her most egregious error. In fact, I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out to me later because I couldn’t understand the words, because she had completely obliterated the melody with the sort of vocal histrionics which has made modern R&B unlistenable. This was the culmination of a trend in which singers forget that they are supposed to lead the crowd in singing the anthem rather than perform it themselves. Even then, though, most “performers” still sing the song mostly straight, usually restricting their egos to a bit of melisma in the “land of the free” line. Beyonce and the Zac Brown band deserve credit for resisting even that temptation. Aguilera simply embarrassed herself, and arguably disrespected the national anthem.

Now on to the Black Eyed Peas. Really, a funny bit of wikipedia vandalism summed it up better than I ever could: The Black Eyed Peas’ halftime show displayed less professionalism than the average high school musical. Will.I.Am couldn’t resist changing the lyrics to one song to throw in unwanted politics, Fergie barked like an old lady, and those other two guys were… present. The only two high points of their show were the sudden, unexplained appearance by Slash, and the look on my parents’ faces when I informed them that the band hadn’t even played their worst song.

The problem with the show isn’t just that the Black Eyed Peas are bad, it’s that they don’t belong there. The NFL’s audience consists primarily of working class and middle class white males. This isn’t to say that women, minorities, and rich people don’t watch, but when the chips fall we all know who pro-football’s fanbase is. This is why the halftime shows that have worked best have been blue-collar rock acts: Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, U2. Prince was a bit of a stretch, but even he had the good sense to put together a rockin’ set list instead of trying to force his more R&B flavored stuff on the audience. The point is that pro football has a sort of aura of blue collar, “clinging to their guns and religion,” middle America. Petty and Springsteen fit this image, as do U2, the Stones, and to a lesser extent Paul McCartney despite not being American.

Naturally this goes double when the game is Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay. Thank God the game itself was great, because the music could hardly have been worse.