Once again, the Super Bowl was an exciting game that provided us with heroes (Drew Brees, Tracy Porter, Sean Payton) and goats (Peyton Manning, Pierre Garçon, Hank Baskett). And just like the action on the field, the commercials (and pre-game and halftime entertainment) gave us some obvious winners and losers. Here’s how I scored it at home:
Jay-Z – I’ve never been a big fan of the Jigga Man, but pairing him with Rihanna, a full orchestra, and action clips from the Saints’ and Colts’ season-long drive to the Super Bowl (favorite quote: a Colts defensive player screaming in the huddle “ALLS I WANT IS EVERYTHING YOU GOT!!!”) was an appropriately adrenaline-pumping way to kick things off.
Queen Latifah – I’ve heard and read speculation that she was singing with a backing track (more on this phenomenon in a bit), but regardless, her stirring version of ‘God Bless America’ was right on the money.
Jack White – He got paid to let some advertiser use the tune to ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’. The fact that just 24 hours later I can’t remember the company behind that ad bodes as a win-win for Mr. White.
Stevie Wonder – He didn’t sing, but Stevie Wonder once again revealed his good sense of humor with a cameo in VW’s ‘Punch Buggy‘ spot.
Arcade Fire – The NFL’s promotional use of their song ‘Wake Up’ – paired with shots of ecstatic fans – was sublime…
The Who – Let’s count the ways: they looked and sounded stiff and old, Roger Daltrey blatantly flubbed his lip-sync with a backing track during ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ (oh, the irony), they were totally upstaged by their stage (possibly a first in rock history), and the corpse of Keith Moon would have been more interesting on drums than Zak Starkey. Better than the infamous Elvis Presto Super Bowl halftime show, but nearly as pathetic…
KISS – OK, I get it, Gene Simmons is a whore who would sell his grandmother’s soul for a nickel. But seeing my once-favorite band hawking Dr. Pepper and sharing the stage with a group of midget Kiss impersonators made me want to lose my chicken wings.
Carrie Underwood – I went into her rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ wanting to be won over. “What am I missing here?” was my thought. The answer, after a fairly flat performance: “Not much.”
Bill Withers – Sure, he got paid for it, but his lovely ballad ‘Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)’ was totally miscast in a commercial for a blood and guts video game. A sadly inappropriate use of a great song.
The Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew – Note to Boost Mobile: The 1984/85 Chicago Bears were one of the greatest teams in football history. If you’re going to rip off their legendarily kitsch performance of ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’, at least have the decency to do something interesting (and preferably tasteful) with it. And double shame on you Mike Ditka, for pimping out an idea you weren’t even part of in the first place.