Perry settles Super Bowl halftime performance controversy

by Caroline Dorey-Stein

     The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It costs millions of dollars and attracts viewers from all over the country, whether or not they are invested in football.

     For an artist, the Super Bowl halftime show is the biggest promotional opportunity possible. Sales sky rocket, and there is a certain unquantifiable prestige that amounts once a performer lands the halftime show. This year, Katy Perry, who has collected enough hits over the course of her three-album career to make it difficult to select exactly what pieces to showcase, will fill the stadium with her sensational pop music and an appearance by Lenny Kravitz.

     Perry was initially rumored as a top pick for the event back in the Summer, in competition with Coldplay and Rihanna. However, rumor about the National Football League trying to coerce an act into paying to play caused a mini uproar. Perry even made an appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay in October to quiet the gossip, stating, “I’m not the kind of girl who would pay to play the Super Bowl.”

     And really, why would a star like Perry pay her way for an event with a halftime performance history as low key as a high school football game, literally.

     When the first Super Bowl took place in 1967, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were ripping up stages and Hendrix, the Doors, and the Dead debuted albums. But who played at the halftime show? Three marching bands, a high school drill team, and trumpeter Al Hirt.

     The halftime show continued with modest performances for quite a while. Marching bands were a staple of the early shows, and, in 1984, it was revolutionary for Minnie Mouse and Goofy to sing and dance upbeat, corny tunes. But then it all changed in ’93. Michael Jackson and his grand entrance with fireworks and special effects unleashed the beast of what the halftime show is today. After his moonwalk and costumes there was no going back.

     Yet Super Bowl organizers still didn’t like the idea of a single star, no matter how big. Odd casting choices such as Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder and Kiss all performed in ’99; Aerosmith, ‘N Sync and Mary J. Blige in ’01. Janet Jackson’s ’04 show wasn’t just a Super Bowl milestone because of the wardrobe malfunction. It was the final year, at least for a while, to feature as many artists as possible (including Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock). Organizers finally realized their idea to collect as many different musicians as possible to attract many music tastes was actually taking away from the show. Too many contrasting styles made for an unsteady, perfunctory set.

    So now we return to the one- or two-person act. Time speculates Kravitz will presumably do more than support Perry on guitar. It’s likely that he’ll sing “American Woman” while Perry thrusts and poses alongside. Traditionally, the Super Bowl has not been warm to presenting artists’ new material, preferring the more familiar songs so that the audience can sing and dance along.

    So get ready, because it’s most likely that The Interview will not be the only source this year to showcase Perry’s “Firework.”

Senior Caroline Dorey-Stein is a staff writer. Her email is caroline. dorey-stein@fandm.edu.

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