The cameraman tried his best to cut away, but it was too late.
When Justin Timberlake reached across Janet Jackson’s body during their Super Bowl halftime performance in 2004 and removed what meager, bedazzled material was covering the right side of her chest, our fates were sealed.
“Whoa, was that Janet Jackson’s ... yeah, it was!” millions of breathless, adolescent boys exalted in unison.
Wide-eyed and probably sweaty FCC regulators and CBS network execs noticed the same thing.
A national controversy, a $550,000 fine and about 35,000 new TiVo subscribers later, one thing was certain: We would never again have anything approaching an interesting Super Bowl halftime show.
Since the wardrobe malfunction to end them all eight years ago, we have been forced to endure bloodless performances by aging rock legends like The Who and Tom Petty and whatever the heck that was the Black Eyed Peas did.
Apparently Toto and Kool and the Gang were booked.
Yes, there have been some notable performances in the post-malfunction era — Prince and Bruce Springsteen were predictably great — but these acts were all selected to perform based on a single criteria: There is no chance of any of them taking off their clothes on national television.
The same is true this year when an English-sounding goblin who looks kind of like Madonna will take to the stage in Indianapolis. At one time, Madge might have been considered a risqué choice but not anymore.
And even if she does take off her clothes, it will be more of a science lesson, her nudity bearing a closer resemblance to one of the cadavers from the “Bodies” exhibit than a living human.
Above all else, the Super Bowl is a spectacle, and its halftime show is deserving of a performance that needn’t be lewd or gratuitously provocative but should have people talking. This show needs some buzz in a bad way.
It’s time to take back the Super Bowl halftime show.
This week, we play booking agent for the National Football League and suggest eight bands or artists that should soon be asked to play the Super Bowl.
If we don’t act now, a halftime show featuring Ratt is right around the corner. Do it for the children.
• Pearl Jam, “Alive” — That the Black Eyed Peas have played the Super Bowl and Pearl Jam hasn’t should be a source of profound national shame.
• R.E.M., “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” — Another iconic American band whose day in the sun is long overdue. Their recently announced hiatus would lend their appearance even more buzz.
• The Black Keys, “Howlin’ for You” — Drummer Patrick Carney recently told Rolling Stone that The Black Keys want to be the biggest band in the world. Let’s see if the boys from Akron are up to the task.
• The White Stripes, “You Don’t Know What Love is (You Do As You’re Told)” — Reunite Meg and Jack White and let them rock our faces off.
• Muse, “Hysteria” — Few contemporary bands more capable of putting on a halftime spectacle than this English trio.
• Florence + The Machine, “Cosmic Love” — The only chance you’ll ever have to see a harp performance during halftime at a Super Bowl.
• Beastie Boys, “Sure Shot” — Imagine MCA, Adam Yauch and Mike D performing a medley of “Sure Shot,” “Sabotage,” “Brass Monkey” and “Intergalactic” at the Super Bowl. Getting excited just thinking about it.
• Outkast, “B.O.B.” — If the Super Bowl returns to Atlanta and the NFL’s first call isn’t to Andre 300 and Big Boi, Georgia state lawmakers ought to just cancel the darn thing.
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