The Ghosts of Super Bowl Halftime Shows Past

I will confess that I was underwhelmed by Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show.  Now I’ve never been much of a JT fan, so I didn’t come at the show with high expectations.

And I will further admit that I find JT’s appearance a little bothersome.  Back in 2004, Timberlake was the artist who pulled off Janet Jackson’s breastplate to expose her nipple for 9/16ths of a second.  Miss Jackson has been persona non grata on live TV since then, but the white male Timberlake is not only back, he’s performing the same song he did when he and Jackson created such a fuss.

But beyond that, the mere fact that Timberlake could dance in a bad suit did not impress me.  Didn’t impress the Washington Post’s pop music critic Chris Richards either:

And if we must join the consensus, joining a widespread backlash beats bandwagon-jumping every time. It restores our faith in the notion that, as a society, we can abandon bad ideas. We can stop decorating our homes with lead paint. We can stop smoking cigarettes on airplanes. We can, in fact, stop “the feeling” and say goodbye to a pop superstar, which really isn’t much, but in these senseless times, somehow feels like some kind of start.

Much was made of the tribute to Minneapolis icon Prince during JT’s show, but to be honest it only made me miss Prince’s 2007 halftime extravaganza in the pouring rain that much more.  Prince’s performance has to be considered the greatest Super Bowl halftime show of all time, now and forever:

Sorry that this is of inconsistent quality – the person who posted it weaved together a mixture of sources.

I have rather cynically noted that Super Bowl entertainment is generally “pop tarts or old farts,” and for the most part that is a fair assessment.  But I will confess that I was really impressed with Lady Gaga’s show last year, and her sly inclusion of a couple of lines from Woody Guthrie’s subversive love song to America, “This Land is Your Land.” (Lady Gaga, in addition to being a great singer and dancer, also has a good appreciation of protest music history, as illustrated by her singing a Phil Ochs anthem during a free concert during the Democratic National Convention back in 2016.)

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