So where the hell was Ashanti? The Super Bowl was like Reunion Night for the dregs of the early 2000s, so it just doesn’t seem right we didn’t get a Ja Rule-themed beer commercial. The Black Eyed Peas did the ghastliest half-time show in sports history, while Christina Aguilera (You remember her! She’s so Dirrty! She’s all Burlesque! She’s not herself tonight!) sang the National Anthem. She was working so hard to prove what a virtuoso she is, she forgot the words. But it was even uglier how she forgot the melody. And the car commercial that tried to make Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” sound mushy and inspirational just served as a reminder that 2002 was a long fucking time ago. It’s official: We’ve had the suck of our lives!
The halftime show was so dire, you had to imagine Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey at home trading high-fives, since Daltrey’s harmonica solo during “Baba O’Riley” last year no longer tops the Super Bowl suck charts. The Peas did the same Swedish-disco Tron homage they did at the American Music Awards, with those light-up suits and their Dirty Dancing cover. Except this time we also got the ominously intoned words, “Ladies and gentlemen . . . the one and only . . . Slash!” Alas, the one and only Fergie proved she’s not Axl, because their version of GNR’s “Sweet Child O’Mine” was a nightmare, all bitchslap rapping and cocaine tongue getting nothing done. Even Usher looked embarrassed. The whole endless Peas medley was so bad, the producers reportedly spent the last ten minutes trying to get Paul McCartney on the phone so he could come back and sing “A Hard Day’s Night” with Terry Bradshaw.
Fortunately, we got the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion doing Leadbelly’s “Black Betty,” via the famous Seventies stoner-metal version by Ram Jam, flipped into an excellent Volkswagen commercial. It was easily the song of the night.
But if you want a halftime show, you have to go back to the old school — ten years, to be exact. We all have renewed respect for Britney and Justin today, not to mention Aerosmith, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, and the rest of N’Sync. Walk this way, Brit!