by Ryan Meehan
As die hard sports fans, we’d all like to think that we have no real opinion on the Super Bowl Halftime Show. This is the time that we use to relieve ourselves from all of the Busch Heavy that we drank in the first thirty minutes of the contest, and perhaps type up a few first half wrap-ups. But in reality, like it or not it is part of the experience. Over the past couple of weeks, a petition started by Ed Ball of Washington over at change.org has been getting a lot of attention. Ball supposedly drafted the petition while intoxicated, but the purpose of this petition is clear as day: He wants the National Football League to get Weird Al Yankovic to perform at halftime of Super Bowl XLIX this February in Glendale, Arizona.
I used to listen to Weird Al a lot when I was younger. We used to get the tapes and copy them for each other, and Al was a seemingly never-ending source of entertainment. “Dare to be Stupid” was one of my favorite albums. Eventually my tastes progressed towards much darker subject matter, and there was a certain passage of maturity that came with saying “I don’t listen to that stuff anymore”. Nevertheless, I still respected the guy and the career he was able to put together with an accordion and wire-rimmed glasses.
While many people reading this may think the suggestion of Weird Al performing at the Super Bowl is totally ridiculous, let me remind you of the many awful halftime performances that we have been subjected to over the past twenty years that could have easily been avoided by someone standing up and saying “You know what? Maybe we shouldn’t do that”. That’s why I’m coming forth to attack those people who think that the NFL is “too good” for Weird Al and can “do so much better”.
Believe is or not, I don’t think this is a bad idea at all. It’s not the greatest idea anyone’s had in the history of the world, but it’s still pretty cool when you think about it. So I’ve decided to go Deep Six on why Weird Al playing halftime at the Super Bowl might actually not be such a weird idea to begin with. Here are six reasons why choosing Weird Al as the halftime entertainment for Super Bowl XLIX wouldn’t be a bad decision for the NFL and the Super Bowl committee.
1. Weird Al is exactly the type of PG family friendly entertainment that the NFL is looking for
Live TV can be a dangerous horse to ride. And all heroin analogies put away, it can be certain death for any artist that might want the gig more than once. Two people who probably won’t get that opportunity are Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. This is because they were involved in a memorable incident during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show where Timberlake pulled off a portion of Jackson’s top, revealing a surprisingly legible handwritten note from Jermaine Dupri that he had given them both genital herpes.
With Weird Al, you’re not going to worry about M.I.A. pulling out the middle finger in the middle of his performance or Beyoncé sucking all of the electricity out a city that’s essentially a swamp with a couple of power lines strung between the trees. This should be a sure shot for the NFL because the guy’s been cranking out safe, family friendly stuff his whole career. It’s not like he’s going to tear open the crotch of his Zubaz pants while upside down crosses come down from the retractable roof, exposing his chode and go “This is a new song…it’s called “Here comes the Taint”‘ before lunging into a six minute and sixty-six second death metal masterpiece. As much as we would all like to see that, that fantasy’s probably not getting any further than my sketchbook.
The point here is that with all of the negative stuff that seems to be circling the NFL like a buzzard with a gold necklace weighing it down, this is a really safe bet for the league. (I’ll discuss this at greater lengths in point five) This guy’s been clean and sober his whole career, is dynamite when it comes to press, and is great with any kind of fan base. And it’s not like the dude is going to call in sick – If this guy had pneumonia he’d still be on stage with Jack Black twerking right next to him.
2. Those of us who know good music aren’t going to get the serious music we want anyway
At some point we will all have to level with the fact that when it comes to seeing the bands that we would like to see perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. Matt Pike and the rest of the guys in High on Fire aren’t going to walk onto that stage in Glendale come February. Slayer is never going to do the honors, especially next year’s Super Bowl which will broadcast via CBS to every nursing home in the continental United States. The truth is, Weird Al may be as close to the game as those of us who grew up jamming to cassette tapes in their parents’ basement will ever get.
The school of thinking which says “we have to book someone that everyone can enjoy” is faulty in its very nature because it’s impossible to please everybody. So what they end up doing is filter all of the acts who are really intense right away, and we’re left with mediocre entertainment. Don’t believe me? Remember this: Gloria Estefan performed at halftime of Super Bowl XXVI with figure skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill in the background while Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses were the biggest recording artists in the world. This is why some people have a room in their house where they can come in, shut the door, and scream at the top of their lungs.
While Weird Al’s 1983 track “Nature Trail to Hell” is a far cry from being the most vile thing you can buy in your local record store, it’s still a song about butchering Cub Scouts so we’ll take it. It may not be Deicide, but bands like that are never going to be on stage between the second and third quarter of the world championship of professional football. So at some point you have to meet these PC public relations people in the middle and agree on something that is tolerable enough for all sides involved. Life is about compromise – look at the person you’re currently sleeping with. Is that really how you expected your life to turn out?
3. Let’s be honest, who are their other options at this point?
I’ve gone on record before as saying that the NFL has pretty much exhausted all of their options when it comes to live music. They’ve already done the Rolling Stones, The Who, Tom Petty probably can’t do it again, they can’t make Springsteen do it every year, and Michael Jackson is dead. This doesn’t leave the league with many options, and they took a chance when they hired the Black Eyed Peas to do it a few years back. They also took a chance on Bruno Mars, but he’s actually a decent musician and he ended up killing it.
Now, that won’t happen every year…So let’s take a look at which of today’s hottest artists could possibly do this and why each of them wouldn’t work:
Miley Cyrus – Let’s just put it this way, do you think the NFL wants to have to spend the rest of the decade disassociating themselves with something called “Vibratorgate”? Miley is young and has a ton of money, which is a recipe for her to do something stupid while the whole world is watching. As a rule, the league should probably steer clear of any artist that could beat one of her back-up dancers with a dildo at any given moment. Plus the odds that she’ll be having an abortion that week are probably as high as she is right now, so this one is a definite “no”.
Lady Gaga – Although he is an excellent performer and puts on one hell of a show, this man is also much more focused on his performance than the actual music itself. This leads to shock value type of stuff, which he’s been waiting his whole career to do in front of this kind of audience. Additionally, he’s been feuding with Madonna now for years so if he’s hired he will go the extra mile towards making sure that whatever he does is more intense than Madonna’s performance.
Lil’ Wayne / Drake – Face tattoos don’t equal billion dollar broadcasts. Plus, I’m still not convinced these two aren’t banging each other.
Katy Perry – It’s my own personal assessment that America is getting really sick of Katy Perry. Unless you’re a twelve year old girl who’s spotting for the first time, I have to believe that her stock is declining in everyone else’s world that isn’t yours. And those are nice earrings, but they’re not going to look good on you four years from now when you’re pregnant and realize that you have to finish high school at home. Of course I’m kidding, you’re not going to finish high school.
Eminem – I think we can all agree this would be fun to watch, but it’ll never happen for several obvious reasons.
Nicki Minaj – Already performed with Madonna a couple years back and it’s unlikely her collagen lip injections will hold out for another six months.
Nickelback – Too Canadian for American Football. Plus, no other rock band that’s out there making crazy money is as hated as these clowns.
Metallica – If you’ve ever seen the rockumentary “Some Kind of Monster” (which I’m sure NFL executives have if they’ve ever considered Metallica) you’ll know that band is a powder keg and WAY too unreliable even if the contract is already signed. They have so much fuck you money that they could bail at the last second, and even after the lawsuit they’d still be able to get their toenails cleaned everyday by third-world prostitutes that would later be killed in front of the band members for their own enjoyment.
The only other real rock band that I think that would deserve to get the slot would be AC/DC, but that’s not going to happen because of Malcolm Young’s recent transformation into an eggplant. So the NFL is in a tough spot here because a lot of the acts who they might select to do this could potentially be trouble.
4. “Mandatory Fun” is actually a really good record
While this may never make any “best of” list when it comes to technical prowess, I have to admit Mandatory Fun has been a blast. Yankovic has teamed up with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast network to create a comedy juggernaut that spans the entire length of the internet, and he released eight music videos in eight days proving that at 54 years old he’s still a major power player in the industry.
“First World Problems” is one of the funniest social commentaries I’ve read or heard in a long time, and that’s coming from someone who reads and hears an awful lot of social commentaries. His video parody of that annoying ass Pharrell song is one of the hottest clips on the internet at the moment, and he even found a way to attack modern slang in a video he doesn’t even appear in. There’s also this awesome song on there called “Mission Statement” that mocks the barrage of corporate speak that all of us are subjected to in numerous meetings and gatherings as required by our employers.
I haven’t really read a lot of bad reviews of this record, and everybody seems to be impressed by his most recent offering. And when you compare it to some of his offerings from the late nineties like “Running with Scissors” and “Bad Hair Day”, it makes his new CD look like the fucking Led Zeppelin IV of Weird Albums. The recording industry recognizes him as a giant as well – he’s been nominated for fourteen Grammys and won three. It might be funny stuff, but it’s no joke and this compilation of tunes is no exception.
5. Regardless of country’s popularity and loyal fan base, it wouldn’t work
I live right smack in the middle of the United States. It’s right on the border of Illinois and Iowa, and we have a local arena that seats about eleven thousand people. So as you can imagine, there are a lot of country acts that come through here. The format is pretty simple: You have a guy with a great body in tight jeans and a tight shirt whose first name is Jake, Jason, or Luke and whose last name is Owen, Aldean, or Bryan. Then you take a picture of him from the crotch up with his hat titled forward so you can only see the corner of one of his eyes. You put it on a flier that says tickets are only forty-five bucks, and you can sell the place out in twenty minutes. Then when all of the twenty-something women that are fans of this guy get into the arena, you can charge six dollars for a bottle of Bud Light because “It’s Girl’s Night!!! … WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!”. (Insert post-drunk driving accident sirens here)
Before you discredit all of this and say a country artist could never do the Super Bowl, I did some research and found out this actually happened. In 1994, when grunge was at the heighth of its popularity the headlining acts at the Georgia Dome for Super Bowl XXVIII were Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds. I’m not kidding, that’s a real thing that happened just two short decades ago. Wynonna and Naomi Judd stepped on the biggest stage in the world and didn’t eat it. And if that’s not enough for you, Stevie Wonder was also a guest performer on “Love Can Build A Bridge”. In his defense, it’s not like he saw it coming. So it has occurred before, but…
That was a much different world back then. We were able to laugh at our differences, and that’s no longer the case. So if a country star took the stage for the Super Bowl, there would be several athletes and blogs that would claim that it was promoting redneck values. It sounds crazy, but trust me this is a very real possibility. You don’t think World Star Hip Hop would have something to say about Kenny Chesney being chosen for the halftime show if it leaked that the decision was made in lieu of a black performer? Somehow I just can’t see Al Sharpton getting through that entire shitrag of a television show that MSNBC puts on the air without mentioning how Keith Urban playing the Super Bowl was “some sort of sick joke that they were playing on my people”. That’s not even mentioning what these race-baiters will try to dig up if one of these guys does get the job. I’ll concoct an example that doesn’t seem that far from reality…
Let’s say Country Star Redneck X gets the Super Bowl XLIX gig. Then just to complicate matters, somebody digs up a picture of one of them standing next to a Confederate flag when they were building a float for their high school homecoming parade twenty years ago. All of a sudden, we have a major problem on our hands. A firestorm of manufactured controversy begins, and once again Jesse Jackson is on television more than we’d like him to be. (Which is never, but that’s beside the point…) Then we’d be thinking that maybe we wouldn’t need to do the country thing at halftime, and that we should have saw this coming. Also don’t forget that the Riley Cooper thing happened at a Kenny Chesney concert, and country is hardly a genre that’s known for its racial tolerance.
Look, I get that country music is huge. I understand that their fan base is very loyal as well, but I also understand that there will be a lot of people who will either shut the television off or change the channel completely if it happens again. This is the last thing that the league and the networks want, so you can only imagine their disdain for the damage control that might follow. That’s because it would be an experiment at best, as today’s music fans are much more divided than ever.
6. Weird Al would be comic relief for a league plagued by problems which are inherently depressing in nature
The NFL’s entering a bit of a rough stretch. This concussion thing is really starting to pick up steam – the Dave Duerson and Junior Seau suicides were crippling for a league desperately trying to protect its image, and the Jim McMahon Sports Illustrated cover story probably didn’t help much either. The Washington Redskins nickname controversy seems to be intensifying, and anything with race, ethnicity, and sexuality discussions present take away from the fact that it’s supposed to be a game that keeps us entertained. I never thought I’d see the day that the NFL would need comic relief, but there’s never been a better time than right now to provide the world with a good laugh.
While we love the NFL, there are aspects about it that are unbelievably depressing. Remember last year when Gary Kubiak fell to the ground headed into the locker room and was rushed to a local hospital during a Sunday Night football game that everybody was watching? Think about how different that night would have been if things had gone differently. To add insult to injury, the Texans lost that game and Kubiak was still fired a few weeks later even after almost having the big one Fred Sanford style on national television. In other words, football is a tough business and a lot of bad shit can happen. Dubsism and I have already discussed that a death on the field is imminent in today’s NFL. All of the advances in security when it comes to the helmets and the pads aren’t going to mean a damn thing if one player hits another player the wrong way at the wrong time.
If by this point you haven’t put on an Elliot Smith record and grabbed a butcher knife, thanks for sticking around. The reason I got intense with the negative stuff there is to prove a point: That if by some miracle this does happen, for fifteen minutes Weird Al would get to go out and make everyone forget about all of this nonsense. For just a little while we’d be able to not only laugh at pop culture but ourselves as well, and forget about things like concussions and the fact that within two years everyone in the DC area will be wearing Washington Warriors jerseys. We certainly can’t blame him for wanting to try.
7. Bonus Point – His guests might actually be people we want to see
His Weirdness makes his millions off of the pop stars that rip our eardrums open every single time we flip on the radio, but you just know that this guy doesn’t listen to most of this shit in his free time. I would assume that he’s probably big into artists like Zappa and The Residents, amongst a lot of other indie bands that we all listen to and you know he could bring some of those people up without anybody throwing a fuss. That would be part of the mystique about it, as well as the fact that many of the acts he has parodied could join him on stage as specified in the petition.
When Madonna brought out Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. a few years back I was like “Wow, this is a disappointment”. I felt the same way during the Super Bowl XLVII when Beyoncé brought out the rest of whatever shitty R&B act she was the lead singer of before her father informed her she could make thirty to forty times as much money if she kicked those bitches to the curb. If Weird Al got to bring guests out, it would be awesome because it would be people that we’d actually enjoy seeing.
So how cool would it be if Weird Al brought out some of the artists that we all know and love? If he was able to get Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits to play guitar on “The Beverly Hillbillies” from UHF, I’m almost certain Mark would also show up to do the Super Bowl. How awesome would it be to have The Melvins backing him up on a couple of songs? As a matter of fact, any artist that would do this would be able to use this as a great PR move to show that they have a sense of humor. Think about it: If Kanye West didn’t have his head shoved so far up his ass, this would be a golden opportunity for him to trick everybody into thinking he isn’t the shitty person we all know he really is. Man, I wish that guy would drive off of a cliff.
All truth be told this probably won’t go down. On the Pat Robertson Will Never Have a Sense of Humor scale, I’d probably rate commissioner Goddell’s stiffness somewhere between Mitt Romney and whatever is left of Chris Farley’s corpse. But even though the odds that this will happen are pretty low, as of Sunday night this petition has generated 119,000 online signatures and will only grow with regards to fan support. Here’s the link again if you choose to sign it, I would highly recommend that you do so.
Other ideas that could be put into place if this doesn’t materialize
I realize that in some of these pieces I have the tendency to be very “doom and gloom” and never put any positive energy or solutions into the scenarios in which I discuss. So to be fair, I have presented a couple of acts that could definitely be considered although I could very well list reasons why they wouldn’t work.
John Legend – This guy seems to be a hit with the ladies, and that seems to be the target audience of the halftime show so it would be a smart move.
Soundgarden – Not even Audioslave could cause this to go wrong.
Rihanna – Speaking of hits, you can’t beat Rihanna. I’ll be headlining hack week the rest of the year.
The Foo Fighters – These guys always put on a great show and put forth a ton of energy. Grohl is a legend by this point, and you never know – he just might be able to sneak Lemmy on stage.
Adam Levine / Blake Shelton – Before you throw truckload of tomatoes in my general direction, let me just say that I’m not a fan of either of these guys. But they are super recognizable due to the popularity of “The Voice”, and on that show they happen to work for the same network that is broadcasting this game.
Dave Matthews Band – While I find this artist’s fanbase to be excruciatingly irritating beyond any sort of reasonable human comprehension, they are really good and have several hits that a lot of people can recall.
So it is true that there are other options, but I would much rather see Weird Al perform than any of the acts I just mentioned. If that makes me “Tacky”, I hope this court finds me guilty as charged.
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