If Janet Jackson's nip slip in 2004 threw ice water on the practice of using current entertainers for Super Bowl halftimes, M.I.A.'s middle finger salute dumped it in the Bering Sea. Finally, after eight years of K. Billy's Sounds of the '70s and Pete Townshend's belly (which somehow didn't draw *any* outrage outside of my living room), things were starting to loosen up. Granted, a 53-year-old Madonna is hardly the controversial figure of yore, but including contemporary acts like Nicki Minaj and LMFAO demonstrated maybe we as a nation were ready to enter the 21st century.
It was fun while it lasted. Yesterday, both the NFL and NBC released their own apologies, each blaming the other for the incident. And while it doesn't appear to have generated the same amount of widespread hullabaloo as Miss Jackson's breast, rest assured the chilling effects will be long-lasting. And because inveterate gamblers like myself need something to do before baseball season starts, here are my five most likely halftime performers for Super Bowl XLVII.
The Eagles This '70s supergroup has all the requisites for a solid/safe halftime option: They have an "outlaw" aura but are now old enough that it's more quaint than dangerous; the band has a reliable number of hits to choose from for a setlist; and they'll do anything for a buck.
I would also accept an appearance by Fleetwood Mac and/or Jackson Browne. Pros: Unlikely to move around enough to injure themselves, Joe Walsh no longer capable of coherent speech. Cons: Set might consist of nothing but solo Glenn Frey cuts. Odds: 10 to 1
Duran Duran Aside from that video for "Girls on Film," these guys were about as nonthreatening as it got in the '80s. And did you ever see the long version of the "Wild Boys" video? That thing had "Super Bowl halftime" written all over it.
Pros: Lip-synching means Simon Le Bon won't have to worry about cracking any notes. Cons: It's entirely possible we could get their cover of PE's "911 Is A Joke." Odds: 20 to 1
Def Leppard Now hear me out. I know the boys from Sheffield have courted controversy in the past ("All access laminates," Behind the Music, look it up), but middle age has definitely mellowed them out. For proof, I only need to point out the episode of CMT Crossroads they recorded with Taylor Swift.
Pros: One-armed drummer Rick Allen is an inspiration to generations of disabled ex-NFL players. Cons: The possibility of a "Pour Some Sugar On Me"-inspired show featuring dozens of pole dancers, which would kind of defeat the purpose of this little exercise. Odds: 25 to 1
Queen with Adam Lambert Last Sunday's halftime show was the gayest one yet...until next time. But don't be scared, NFL: Brian May and Roger Taylor are unlikely to put up with any shenanigans. And it's a safe bet Lambert won't be tongue kissing May this time around.
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Pros: Lambert's fans are legion, as we well know, so a ratings drop-off won't be a problem. Cons: Can "We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions" carry the same weight after we've already heard it a gazillion football games? Odds: 50 to 1
Foo Fighters I may be getting a little too recent for the NFL, but the Foos put on an undeniably badass show. And in the post-Nirvana era, Dave Grohl hasn't gone out of his way to court controversy. I mean, the closest thing might be that little dust-up with Glee creator Ryan Murphy. Or the band's support of HIV denialism...hmm, maybe this wasn't such a good pick after all. Pros: Energetic live act, catchy songs -- most of which lack censor-requiring profanity Cons: Can everyone in the band refrain from smoking for the length of an entire halftime show? Odds: 75 to 1