Though fans of the game might say differently, there’s often more interest on this side of the Atlantic in who provides the half-time entertainment than anything that happens in the game itself.
If you’re staying up til 5.30am on a school night you the least you can ask for is a bit of a show.
Sometimes the organisers haven’t quite hit the right note with their arrangements though – this year’s offering of Maroon 5 has the potential to be one of those years.
Read more on the Super Bowl:
- Will the New England Patriots ever just p*ss off?!
- How the Rams can butt Tom Brady aside
- Seven essential rules to follow for winning NFL wagers
But what goes into screwing up one of the most talked-about events on the US sporting calendar?
We’ve delved into past shows’ catalogue of cringe and catastrophe to put together a recipe for the ridiculous…
1 – N*dity
If Sigmund Freud couldn’t explain America’s psychological disposition, I don’t think you’re going to find the answers here. Even though Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson made headlines around the world for a sport (and business) determined to expand its reach, the “wardrobe malfunction” controversy was about as welcome as Colin Kaepernick on a Trump rally stage – or an NFL roster – for the league.
Going with MTV to provide an edgier production than other years, the league learned its lesson from this escapade, filling the annual game-break jamboree with a string of grizzled rockers for the rest of the decade – presumably, a swathe of heart attacks caused by the nip-slip was a motivating factor here.
Paul McCartney didn’t quite set pulses racing in the same way.
Timberlake returned to headline last year’s show, while Jackson’s career nose-dived. It’s a sh*t business.
2 – Movie marketing tie-ins
Ever get a present of a ropey computer game tenuously built around the set-piece scenes from a major Hollywood movie? Imagine the disappointment you felt when you first played it, and then multiply it by 250 million – one time for each dejected viewer – and you’ve a sense of what many of the mid-to-late nineties half-time shows were all about.
For example, Disney’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” amusement ride gave the 1995 Super Bowl its half-way entertainment. Stumped for ideas as to what music they should use, The Lion King’s soundtrack was pressed into action, just because. Magical.
3 – Main acts by committee
Disney were also responsible for wearyingly wishy-washy soufflés of gibberish like Super Bowl 34’s effort. The mish-mashed hodge-podge of happy-clappy nonsense was underlined by a curious combination of Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Toni Braxton, signifying everything and nothing all at once.
At least it didn’t have Kid Rock.
He was a third wheel on the Timberlake-Jackson fiasco, while Slash accompanied the Black Eyed Peas in 2011, and the demographic lottery threw up (in every sense) Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting in 2003.
What about Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J Blige and Nelly all on the same bill? Were they just pulling names out of a hat?! It couldn’t have done much worse in fairness.
4 – War!
Prior to 1993’s performance by Michael Jackson, the annual event was treated more like a pageant, full of marching bands and dance troupes, rather than an opportunity for the world’s biggest acts to reach as large a TV audience as possible.
Maybe the popularity of the first Gulf War in the US made the entertainment industry take note of the stage they were missing out on? The live broadcast of 1991’s spectacle was sacked off for a news update of Operation Desert Storm’s progress, which had kicked off ten days before the game.
That war was so successful they squeezed out a sequel some ten years later to mixed reviews. If only they’d used the Super Bowl half-time show that year.
5 – Dancing Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo…
Katy Perry’s 2015 effort is indelibly seared into memory by the contribution of a man dressed as a shark. Flanked by two costumed dancers, Perry’s performance was overshadowed by the idiosyncratic interpretation offered by the entertainer christened Left Shark by the lol-ing masses on social media.
Looking more hammer-headed than great white, his flailing had viewers wondering if the Phoenix sun had temporarily blinded all involved with the show’s choreography.
And then they remembered that it’s just the Super Bowl half-time show – inexplicable nonsense is exactly what’s supposed to happen.