With audiences of up to 150 million viewers, the Super Bowl is traditionally the highest-rated annual event on American TV. However, the reason for this has very little to do with football. The modern day Superbowl is a combination of virtually all facets of the entertainment industry. Celebrities appear, top musicians perform, patriotism is on display, highly anticipated movies are advertised, and new products are pushed to consumers for no significant reason other than the fact that they can be.
A pre-taped performance of Jay-Z with an orchestra performing “Run This Town” (without Rihanna, oddly) ushered in the experience. Later on, Queen Latifah sang “America the Beautiful”, but she got off to a shaky start probably because of microphone problems. Carrie Underwood then sang the national anthem in acapella with complete confidence. The half-time show was a mini-concert by the Who. Despite their rough voices, they were instrumentally great in their performances of “Pinball Wizard”, “Baba O’ Riley”, “Who Are You?”, “Tommy”, and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.
The football game itself was an interesting match, the Indianapolis Colts, last year’s champions, were up against first-time competitors the New Orleans Saints. While New Orleans won the coin toss, a seemingly trivial moment that is treated like it holds the utmost importance, the Colts mostly dominated the game. That is, until the last quarter, when the Saints surged ahead by five points. The game actually ended 44 seconds early, with New Orleans besting Indianapolis with a score of 31 to 17. Quarterback Drew Brees held his baby on the field before accepting the Most Valuable Player award, with a noticeable gash on the side of his face. Meanwhile, the cameras cut to the celebration in the streets of New Orleans, noting how far they have come since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
With all of this drama, though, CBS routinely reminded viewers that the much-hyped commercials were on the way as if they were the main event. Some of these were for CBS’ TV shows, including a montage of NCIS-style head-slapping set to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and a preview of a new medical drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Miami Medicine, that premieres in April. A funny, but intrusive moment came when Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory appeared on the screen to notify us that he hacked into the Super Bowl and that he wishes that whatever team you do not like is “less effective”. As for the rest of the commercials, I’ll detail the best and worst of them in another post.