Say what you will about football, but it's hard to deny that the Super Bowl is a long-held tradition that's as American as bald eagles and deep-fried butter. From the game itself to the movie-budget commercials to the literal bucket-loads of food at Super Bowl parties, there's something to love for just about anyone who tunes in. For music and art lovers, the halftime show is always something to look forward to, and it may even inspire some plucky little dreamers out there to work their way to the Super Bowl stage in the future. If you think you got what it takes to bring the goods and entertain the football-loving, chicken wing-chewing masses, then here are some things you should and shouldn't do to make your act a home run...wait...
DO: Know who/what you are.
This is a pretty good piece of advice for pretty much any show you're doing, but it's especially important when you have millions upon millions of people all watching you at the same time. Basically, this boils down to playing up your strengths as much as you can, because doing what you're good at generally leads to positive results. If you're a good ol'-fashioned rock band like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, or Paul McCartney, you'll probably benefit with a somewhat straightforward stage setup and a focus on the music. If you're a bombastic pop-star that likes vocal runs just as much as pyrotechnics, then putting on an over-the-top spectacle like Katy Perry or Madonna is the route you'd want to take. Whether it's a sweet guitar solo or a entering the stadium on a giant diamond lion, both scenarios can be equally entertaining if the right people are involved in each.
DON'T: Go nuts and lose focus.
On the flip side of the previous thing, bigger audiences and bigger budgets make it all the more tempting to go balls-to-the-wall and throw as many fireworks, LED lights, and shiny things onto the field and see what sticks. It's this sort of situation that can make a halftime show go from grand and impressive to sensory overload, which is why something like the clunky, sparkly mess that was the Black Eyed Peas' performance is unanimously regarded as one of the worst halftime shows (although to be fair, the Black Eyed Peas had the disadvantage of not being very good to begin with). A lack of direction can also lead to some serious messes like the 1995 halftime performance: an Indiana Jones
show not starring Harrison Ford about the explorer finding the Lombardi Trophy, featuring Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle singing a song from The Lion King
. Don't worry, it's even more of a shit storm than it sounds.
DO: Make something Meme-able.
If you want to appeal to the Millennials watching the game illegally on their MacBook Airs, then the surefire way into their clickbait-loving hearts is with something cool, funny, or random enough to become an Internet meme. This is a generally good way to generate buzz around the performance, get people talking about it for weeks after it happened, and even generate interest from people who didn't initially watch the show. Don't believe me? Two words: Left Shark, motherf***er. That doofy little Disney reject took Katy Perry's already-solid performance and latched it onto our collective pop-culture psyche for weeks, if not months longer than it should have. You probably don't remember that Missy Elloitt made a guest appearance, but you sure as hell remember Left Shark flailing his awkwardly long fins to the music. Sure, memes have a short lifespan, but like I've always said, the Internet never forgets, so you can bet Left Shark is still swimming his way across peoples' Tumblr posts.
DON'T: Show your privates on live TV.
You'd think it was self-explanatory, this one. Don't show your packages, ding-a-lings or hoo-ha's to the good American people, simple as that. But, this pointer's worth saying because the one time it happened caused an apocalyptic-like frenzy, killed the then-seemingly un-killable career of one of the artists involved, and is remembered as one of the most infamous moments in American live television. Of course, I'm talking about Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson's 2004 performance, otherwise known as "Nipplegate." In all honesty, the whole thing is perfectly entertaining, but then in Justin's surprisingly apt final lines, "Better have you naked by the end of this song," he reaches for Jackson's breast and, well, you can probably put together the rest from context (or watch it right now, it was filmed live after all). JT eventually bounced back after the scandal, but the FCC's hell bent crusade against Jackson left her career in shambles, to which she is still recovering from to this day. But hey, the whole thing did give us YouTube
, so that's a decent consolation I guess.
DON'T: Bring guests who are better than you.
It's a pretty common thing to have the headlining act bring on some supporting A-listers to help bring the hype levels that much higher. I mean, who doesn't love an Avengers
-style team up of epic proportions featuring our real-life musical superheroes? However, the headliner should still be the headliner, so you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot by willingly bringing someone who can (literally) dance circles around you. We most recently saw this scenarios play out last year, when Beyonce came out with her army of dancers and knocked America on its ass with the debut of "Formation"...at Coldplay's halftime show. Coldplay, a band where even their own fans nervously hide their affinity for them like a 12-year-old with a Playboy
magazine, brought on one of the biggest and most successful artists in the goddamn world
and thought she'd sit back and play second fiddle. No matter how big of a deal you think you are, it's worth checking if anyone on your lineup is actually
as big of a deal as you think you are.
DO: Be a superstar.
When it comes down to it, if you show up thinking you're a massive, successful artist who has every right to take the national stage and blow peoples' minds, then you're probably going to be fine no matter what you do. You look at some of the legendary halftime performances, and no matter the artist or genre, the headliners all possess that confidence, charisma, and swagger that makes them an absolute blast to watch. I mean, Michael Jackson literally just stood there for like, a minute,
and people were still
losing their shit. That's the mark of a true master, right there. And I wasn't going to get through this thing without mentioning Prince, who dedicated a good portion of his set to other peoples' songs, but he was still unmistakably and unabashedly Prince
. I mean, he performed "Purple Rain" IN THE RAIN! It was like he scripted that moment with Mother freaking Nature! It was the coolest
!!! God, I miss that man. My point is, we can't all be Prince, but as long as you know you're a superstar and you're ready to show the rest of the world that fact, you're bound to put on a halftime show for the ages.