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The Black Eyed Peas at Super Bowl XLV

February 7, 2011

Image from Popcrunch

Setlist: I Gotta Feeling / Boom Boom Pow / Sweet Child Of Mine (w/ Slash) / Pump It / Let’s Get It Started / OMG (w/ Usher) / Where Is The Love? / The Time (Dirty Bit) / I Gotta Feeling (reprise)

I was looking forward to this show. I’ve been a fan of the Peas as an alternative hip-hop trio since 2000, and again since 2005 as a dance act. Between the band’s David Guetta-assisted transition from pop to hard house and front man Will.I.Am’s embrace of any/all tech trends, the group has grown to be one of the biggest acts in the world.

So it’s fitting that the BEP’s are the first act to break the six year Super Bowl streak of classic rock bands that have performed the halftime show since the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake “wardrobe malfunction” of 2004. Since that show, a reactionary succession of mostly boomer acts has dominated the stage:

2005: Paul McCartney

2006: The Rolling Stones

2007: Prince

2008: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

2009: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

2010: The Who

This halftime show was the first in seven years where all of the main performers were under 40. The idealist in me would like to think of this show as a break from the league’s social conservatism. Then I remembered the impending labor lockout from the Players Association, so…not so much….

Onto the show (which Popdust has if you missed it)! The BEPs’ LED show looked a lot like the halftime shows from years past. However, there were a few key differences.

  1. No Planted Audience: Instead of most halftime shows where the band has an audience jumping around and rocking out in front of the stage, the Peas had an army of dancers dressed in white and LEDs moving in step like an army, which brings us to….
  2. The Black Eyed Peas, clearly going for a Tron vibe, wore “futuristic” LED outfits, each with a signature flourish –
    1. Will.I.Am had a silver/clear headpiece that made me wonder about his receding hairline.
    2. Apl.de.ap had 3D glasses, so either he had a wicked headache by the end of the show, or he could see in 4D!
    3. Fergie had a glittery chest piece, which given the whole “football game” that was going on, was kind of appropriate.
    4. Taboo was covered virtually head to toe in LEDs. Seeing as SNL once referred to him as “that weird guy who dances,” Taboo doesn’t get much love, so at least he got the best outfit of the night.
  3. Guest Performances:
    1. Slash: He and Fergie performed the lone bit of classic rock, a cover of GNR’s “Sweet Child Of Mine,” with Fergie singing Axl’s part rather well and straddling Slash the whole time. Slash just kept to himself and shredded like the seasoned pro he is. His signature top hat should have been filled with LEDs.
    2. Usher: Similar to the Peas’ entrance, Usher dropped in from the rafters, except his entrance was super fast, so much that I was afraid his landing would leave an Usher-shaped hole in the stage. Usher and his backup dancers were dressed all in white and danced around for a minute or two while he sang “OMG” and Will.I.Am kind of stood off to the side half-assedly.
    3. I would have liked to see the guest performers stick around for the other songs. Slash is a guitar virtuoso, and he could have totally nailed the “Misirlou” guitar riff from “Pump It.” Usher could have sang Justin Timberlake’s part from “Where Is The Love.”
  4. Technical Difficulties: Over the course of the show, pieces of the stage gradually converged at the center of the stadium to spell “Love” from overhead. Except that half of the “v” shorted out so the overhead word came out as “Loie.”
  5. The Running Man: During their performance of “The Time (Dirty Bit),” the Peas and their dancers converged onstage to dance “The Running Man.” The back row of dancers was wearing “robot” heads that looked like clear Ikea drawer boxes. I’d like to see that at a Bruce Springsteen concert!

Overall I thought the performance was a great spectacle. The producers pulled out all the stops, the Peas did everything live, and it turned out to be a very fun show. I hope to see more of these blowouts at future Super Bowls.

Bonus!

  • Well, Christina Aguilera apologized for flubbing “The Star Spangled Banner.” If I were in her position, I might have messed up the lyrics as well, so I will cut her some slack. Besides, it’s a hard song to sing and from a singing perspective, she nailed it!
  • The Glee medley of “Thriller” and “Heads Will Roll” kicked ass! Best Glee song this season! (go to about 38:27 in the clip)

 

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