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A Decade of (Bad) Super Bowl Halftime Shows

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I enjoyed Sunday night's halftime show more than others from recent years. That's coming from a guy who has paid money for albums by The Who and Paul McCartney, and attended concerts by the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty.

Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was a game-changing moment in halftime history. (That show also featured P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock, with AOL as the sponsor; talk about a snapshot of 2004). After Janet's breast swung loose, the show went downhill. And by downhill, I mean old and British (in an attempt to avoid future wardrobe malfunctions).

Here's a look at every Super Bowl halftime show since 2001.

  • 2001: Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly -- This was the glory days of MTV's Total Request Live, which I watched daily after school. This lineup is an accurate snapshot of that year's largest musicians and comedians. That makes it a quality billing in my opinion -- even though I'd never voluntarily listen to any of these artists.
  • 2002: U2 -- I understand the need for a 9/11 memorial, but did it have to be U2? This should have been Springsteen's year.
  • 2003: Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting -- For some reason, I don't remember this halftime show. I know saw the Bucs beat the Raiders, but somehow I missed this. That's weird, because Shania Twain was my first concert (yep) and The Police are one of my favorite bands. I lived in a college dorm at the time, though, so I probably played a quick Bucs-Raiders Madden game at halftime (on my Game Cube).
  • 2004: Janet, Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and Timberlake -- This game's wardrobe malfunction would send halftime shows into a dark and boring place.
  • 2005: Paul McCartney -- McCartney's great. I can't insult him. But I don't want to hear a shortened version of Hey Jude. He shouldn't be playing the Super Bowl.
  • 2006: The Rolling Stones -- I was heavily into the Stones at this time, so I was excited. Halfway through the first song, I got a text message from my brother that said, "What do you think of your beloved Stones now?" The fact that I remember that exact text message speaks to the overall horrendous nature of the performance. They stunk, and they looked old. (Six years later, still rocking. If they make it another six, I say book 'em again).
  • 2007: Prince -- Fine with it. Better than the last two years, but still not quite right. This looked like we were inching closer to the pre-Janet pop extravaganza of the early 2000s. And then...
  • 2008: Tom Petty -- I've been to several Tom Petty concerts. I love him. But he's a the lead singer of an old rock band. You can only do so much with that.
  • 2009: Bruce Springsteen -- Bruce made up for the lack of youth by zipping around like a madman and getting sexual with his microphone stand.
  • 2010: The Who -- This is an all-time low. Even worse than the Rolling Stones. Terrible booking. To be quite honest, The Who has done nothing but let me down since the first time I heard "Baba O'Riley." It's been a long string of letdowns since then.
  • 2011: Black Eyes Peas, Usher and Slash -- Six years after Janet and Timberlake -- finally a modern pop group with upbeat, danceable songs. Too bad they suck.
  • 2012: Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Cee Lo Green -- I liked it. Madonna looked old, but not in a terribly sad way. She picked the right songs and the right accompaniment. She stepped around and let the green screen and Cirque du Soleil do the heavy lifting.

The halftime show, in my opinion, should feature (American) decked-out pop stars lip-syncing over computer-generated dance beats. It should be a lesson in pop culture. We should look back on it as a musical representation of the year that was. It's not a sample of what was good. It's a sample of what was big.

Looking back on 2010 and seeing that The Who played is stupid and confusing. Madonna is old too, but she transcends generations. And young people know who she is.

The only potential setback for next year was M.I.A.'s middle finger, which has turned into a bit of a controversy, but not nearly on the level of Janet's. The powers that be probably won't trust wildcards like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha or Katy Perry, but you never know.

Next year's game will be in New Orleans -- the first Bowl in that city since Katrina. That has U2 written all over it. The ultimate travesty would be a Green Day/U2 combo. They played "The Saints are Coming" after the Superdome was cleaned up and football resumed in New Orleans. (Also, I just realized the previous U2 performance in 2002 was at the Superdome. They almost seem inevitable at this point.)

Actually, wait. Scratch everything I just said about young, fresh talent. Randy Newman, I just realized, is from New Orleans. I want him.

Or maybe Master P.

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