Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Five Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Warren Moon, Minnie Mouse, and a slew of kids at Super Bowl XXV

With Super Bowl XLVI kicking off this weekend, fans all over the world are prepping for the big event by making runs to the grocery store for beer and chips. They’re also engaging in another tradition which has become pretty integral to the annual NFL showcase – grousing about halftime shows. For roughly 25 years, the midway point of the biggest game in football was devoted to cheesy themes, lots of marching bands, and four too many shows featuring Up with People. In 1993, sagging ratings lead to a long overdue concept – tapping the biggest artists in the world to perform. They couldn’t have kicked things off any bigger than with Michael Jackson.

However, there have been some real stinker shows before and after then. Today’s blog focuses on five of them, as determined by an aggregate of 16 lists which ranked the worst Super Bowl halftime shows.

5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye (1995). Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Bennett, and Miama Sound Machine performed. The performers weren’t the worst choices in the world, but the goofy Indiana Jones storyline was completely transparent as a shameless promotion of Disney’s newest Indiana Jones attraction.

4. The Black Eyed Peas (2011). There seemed to be a lot of venom targeted at this performance. I’m not entirely sure why. Since Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” in which Justin Timberlake exposed her breast to the world, the halftime show had pretty much been entrusted to classic rock artists who were past their prime, but weren’t likely to do anything embarrassing. The Black Eyed Peas were the biggest current group around and made for a logical choice to go after a contemporary audience. Apparently someone told them they had to still go after a classic rock audience, though, so they trotted out Slash to play guitar while Fergie strutted about doing a very unnecessary remake of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

3. Winter Magic (1992). As a sort of last hurrah to the halftime shows which crammed as many performers on the field as possible for cheesy song-and-dance numbers, we got an odd medley of tunes traditionally associated with Christmas. In the second half, macho football fanatics everywhere were treated to figure skating from Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill in a tribute to the 1992 Winter Olympics before things wrapped up with Gloria Estefan.

2. Small World Tribute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl (1991). I’m sure prancing on to a stage with Minnie Mouse is the highlight of Warren Moon’s football career. Look, I don’t subscribe to the idea that the halftime show should cater to the average NFL fan, but they also shouldn’t go to the other extreme with a show full of Disney characters, dancing and singing children, and New Kids on the Block.

1. Be-Bop Bamboozled in 3-D (1989). I can’t help but imagine a planning committee joking about what would make for the worst halftime show ever – and then having those notes fall into the hands of someone who thought it was real. Yes, folks, not only did we get an Elvis impersonator/magician (Elvis Presto!) performing the world’s biggest card trick, but we the show was presented in 3-D! At least in introducing the show, Bob Costas acknowledged the goofiness of it all with his line, “This is the single proudest moment of my life.”

Thankfully, there have been plenty of good halftime shows as well. Tomorrow’s blog will focus on those as everyone preps for the big game.

Resources and Related Links:
Worst-of Lists:

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