Jacobs: The boss will rock the half-time show

By by Justin Jacobs

‘ ‘ ‘ This Sunday will be a triumph for the blue-collar folk of America. ‘ ‘ ‘ All eyes will… ‘ ‘ ‘ This Sunday will be a triumph for the blue-collar folk of America. ‘ ‘ ‘ All eyes will be on a rag-tag gang who fought for years to be recognized for its talent and skill, as it will undoubtedly put on a legendary performance at the Super Bowl, representing a hard-working, underappreciated ‘nation’ of millions of die-hard fans. ‘ ‘ ‘ Oh, and the Steelers will be there, too. ‘ ‘ ‘ I’m talking, of course, about Bruce Springsteen and his almighty E Street Band, which will take the stage (or field, as it were) to bash through some classic songs during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. ‘ ‘ ‘ With The Boss’ latest, 16th studio album Working on a Dream having just hit the shelves on Tuesday, paired with his recent show-stopping performance at Obama’s inaugural concert last week, Springsteen’s popularity and visibility are riding high, making him the perfect pick to carry the torch of half-time performers. ‘ ‘ ‘ The list of those who’ve played for millions at a Super Bowl half time is long, sure, but it’s certainly had its ups and downs. ‘ ‘ ‘ In fact, it was only in 1988, at Super Bowl XXII, that the notion of a rock ‘n’ roll act playing at half time was even introduced. And even then, the performer was Chubby Checker, famous for his hit ‘The Twist’ and many subsequent variations of the song. ‘ ‘ ‘ The folks in the Super Bowl ivory tower have gotten it right for the past few years with some truly great shows, including rock royalty like Paul McCartney (who I seriously doubted could kick ass, but proved me wrong), Prince, the Stones and last year’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The formulas of these recent shows have been simple and successful ‘mdash; pick a rock band, let it play a few songs, then get back to giant dudes smacking each other’s asses while wearing tight pants. ‘ ‘ ‘ But it hasn’t always been such easy sailing. Some past half-time performers have been downright awkward, with China’s-Olympic-opening-ceremony-sized shows (1989’s show included an Elvis impersonator singing pointedly non-Elvis songs, dancers and hi-tech 3-D special effects) or just plain awkwardness. Nothing says football ‘mdash; gruff and athletic ‘mdash; like Carol Channing’s tribute to Mardis Gras at Super Bowl IV. ‘ ‘ ‘ In 1999, the show was called ‘A Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing,’ copping the popular and short-lived trend of the day, and featured Stevie Wonder (good pick!), Gloria Estefan (totally lame, but good pick!) and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Um … who?). Voodoo Daddy rode in on the awesome-for-about-six-minutes swing revival, played one song at the Super Bowl and then promptly disappeared for the rest of time. ‘ ‘ ‘ 1991 saw the just-about-pubescent New Kids on the Block perform while surrounded by more than 3,000 children of different ethnic backgrounds. The two groups were a match made in awkward heaven. While ‘3,000 children of different ethnic backgrounds’ just screams diversity, the same cannot be said of the five rich white boys of NKOTB. ‘ ‘ ‘ But nothing tops 1993’s Super Bowl XXVII for sheer awkwardness or irony. Sole performer Michael Jackson waved his humanitarian flag high, performing hits like ‘Black and White’ and ‘Billie Jean,’ while the crowd held up different colored cards that, altogether, formed images of cartoon children. The finale featured a giant, inflated globe with Jackson singing ‘Heal the World’ as a crowd of about 3,500 children surrounded him, raising their voices to high heaven. ‘ ‘ ‘ Just a few months later, Jackson met his first child sexual abuse accusation. Oops! ‘ ‘ ‘ Thankfully, the NFL has gotten over its penchant for filling the field with kids and moved on to straight (though certainly bloated) rock ‘n’ roll performances since 2005. ‘ ‘ ‘ And with Bruce Springsteen, the beating heart of all that is rock, playing this year, there’s slim chance that anything will go wrong. Unless Justin Timberlake shows up and exposes his nipple. ‘ ‘ ‘ Check out Justin’s new music blog at www.gravityrideseverythingblog.blogspot.com.