The best part about Sunday night's Super Bowl halftime show was that people actually were surprised that it was bad, as if the Black Eyed Peas would pull it off without a hitch and we would all rush to our computers and download their entire catalog in converted reverence. Right when we saw the group come down from the rafters on chains, we already knew we were in trouble.
If you didn't think the Peas sucked before, your mind wouldn't be changed and you were enraptured for all 12 minutes. If you came in already a devoted hater, then you only walked away with a worse impression than you had the day before. If you are among the lucky few that had no idea who they were before or what they sang Sunday, then you believe that the world is on the verge of artistic implosion. And you could be partly right.
What the Peas' halftime show taught everyone is that there is a bigger segment of the world's population that really gets off on this shit, and not in the ironic blogger-in-NASA-glasses way. This is non-fiction entertainment for over three-quarters of the world. For those fans this is all normal. Having a four-piece band playing their own instruments onstage without the help of the cast from Logan's Run is the real oddity.
There is also this weird hope and dulling happiness in the band's music that most normal people find uncomfortable and even unsettling. It's corporate-retreat pop to ignore the real problems to.
4. The Music
Opening with "I Gotta Feeling" and the lines "I gotta feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night" was a death knell. There was no way that would happen with a catastrophic Fergie wardrobe malfunction or an unplanned fire onstage.
Each time you heard a sample of a song you loved you got even sadder. "Oh man, I loved "Sweet Child 'O Mine" - Appetite was the first album I bought on my own," or "Wow, they really sampled Dick Dale? Is that legal?"
The best thing was the group playing "Let's Get It Started" and not accidentally using the original "Let's Get Retarded" version. Seriously in this day and age who has the balls to release a big-budget song like that? Was 2003 that archaic?
"Where Is The Love" was the supposed to be the feel-good moment of the performance, but after the Barack Obama/Bill O'Reilly pre-game interview, it seemed like payback for whatever that mean old Fox News crank did to Barry.
3. The Tron Bullshit
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What was will.i.am wearing on his head? Like a space-age do-rag? Why was Fergie dressed like an electric gladiator? Is that one guy a Native American? He scares us. And hey, Apl.de.ap, since when do mohawks start three inches from your forehead? What was with the white suits on the dancers on the ground? Reminded us of a death cult. The Sun is the beast and we must hop on the next meteor to live.
2. The Live Autotune
Nothing was more offensive than hearing live Autotune, something that should be kept in the studio and on record, if you are so inclined to use it. It was insult to injury, after everything else we were going through, the costumes, the Tron motif, the cheering crowd seemingly loving every minute of it.
It's enough that most poppy, radio-country artists use it live at places like RodeoHouston, cough, Rascal Flatts. It's not like we were expecting some sort of introspective set from the Peas. This is a corporate event after all, so nothing was left to chance.
1. The Guest Stars
Slash and Usher were more than likely last-minute additions, doing nothing else but confusing viewers. We didn't even know the Peas had a relationship with Slash, and why did he sell himself out by wearing that fancy rhinestone top hat? Somewhere Axl Rose was laughing, or some semblance of laughing after all the plastic surgery.
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For once sex and rock and roll didn't help matters either. Slash playing the "Sweet Child O Mine" licks with Fergie warbling and giving a half-ass dry-hump (a lovely lady dry-hump) didn't titillate. Usher coming down from the rafters just angered us that he wasn't the actual headlining performer, and then just as quickly as that thought entered our heads, he fell into the same trap as the Peas.
Once again, it's not like we were expecting Ursher to turn in a sextastic explosion of stank in front of billions of people. But it would have been a lot cooler if he did.