Going Gaga over the Super Bowl

By Jeff Linville - jlinville@s24476.p831.sites.pressdns.com

The Super Bowl was Sunday, and anyone still claiming that Peyton Manning is the best QB of all time will get laughed out of the room.

But, rather than write yet another sports column about Tom Brady, let’s talk about the other big performance at the stadium that night: the halftime show.

First, let me start with this.

When the TV show “Whose Line is It Anyway” came out in 1998, host Drew Carey came up with the opening phrase: Where everything’s made up, and the points don’t matter.

That’s much of social media on the average day.

If you didn’t see it and just went by things on Twitter and Facebook, you’d either believe the halftime show was the greatest performance in the history of music, or you might believe it was a glorified prostitute lip-syncing while showing the nation her privates, to paraphrase a friend’s Facebook post.

As is the case with most everything in life, the truth is somewhere in between.

Anybody who has read some of my past columns will know that I’m a guitar guy. Play them, tinker with them, listen to others play them. While primarily a rock fan, I like anything with good guitar work.

So, Lady Gaga isn’t really my cup of tea.

And, when she was first coming on the scene about eight years ago, my introduction to Lady Gaga wasn’t via the radio, but tabloid headlines while standing in line at the grocery store.

She was doing the club scene in the Big Apple dressed in provocative fashion. Then once her music hit the airwaves, her music videos were designed to be outlandish and draw attention to an up-and-coming singer/songwriter.

When it was announced that Gaga would be the halftime act, I was concerned. Maybe the networks see halftime as just a chance to draw in millions of viewers, but because it comes at the ultimate sporting event of the year, I believe it should be treated with a touch of reverence.

People vote players into the Pro Bowl. Players earn their way into the Super Bowl.

You can’t say, “Oh, I’m sick of Tom Brady. I wanna see Dak Prescott in the Super Bowl.” Dak might get there one day, but he’ll have to punch his ticket on the field of battle, not the ballot box.

That’s why I took umbrage with Bruno Mars as the halftime performer at Super Bowl 48 (don’t get me started on that Roman numeral garbage).

Bruno was only 28 years old, and his debut album was less than four years old. Where was the work? Where was the lifelong dedication that culminates with an appearance at such a grand event?

When Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson stole the show from the Carolina Panthers in 2004, network executives were quick to say that there would be more consideration about the performers who would take the stage.

This was followed by a run of established artists with lengthy pedigrees: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Who.

Then came the complaint that these acts were all old and didn’t fit the musical tastes of the players on the field. They wanted more modern music. And the TV execs saw a chance to boost viewership, so all the promises made in 2004 suddenly were thrown out the window.

There were The Black Peas, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA, Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars.

In 2015, I was all “ehhh” about Katy Perry, but excited that Lenny Cravitz would be performing. Then Lenny didn’t play a single song of his. He joined in with Perry for part of one song. What the heck was that all about?

Coldplay has been around a while, but honestly I only know three of their songs. All three were included in the 2016 halftime. And then for some reason, here came Bruno Mars back out on the stage with Mark Ronson. “Dude, it’s only been two years since you had the whole show to yourself. Get out of here!” Then came Beyonce, when she and her Destiny’s Child friends had done the halftime of the 2013 show. Reruns?!

Lady Gaga did the Super Bowl national anthem a year ago, and that seemed to convince folks to give her a halftime show.

Here’s where you have to give her some credit. She has a loyal fan base already in this country – but I dare say that the football-watching crowd isn’t a big part of that base. So she set out to expand her reach with a grassroots effort.

Back in October she did what she penned the Dive Bar Tour. She performed in Nashville, New York City and Los Angeles in bars instead of music halls or sports stadiums. The performances were streamed live on Bud Light’s Facebook page. Regular Joes got a chance to be introduced to her work.

When it came to her halftime show, Gaga started off with America the Beautiful and the Pledge of Allegiance.

And while she has been known to use her sexuality on stage, she wasn’t showing cleavage or letting her butt hang out of her shorts. She wasn’t running around grabbing her crotch like a Michael Jackson video. As a parent, I saw nothing in her performance that would have made me uncomfortable to watch with kids.

I even found myself kind of bouncing on my toes while heading back to the kitchen for more snacks.

She did her country proud, and I might even be willing to download a few of her songs to my iPod.


By Jeff Linville


Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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