Super Bowl XLVI: Battle of the Commercials

Which Superbowl commercials did we love? What was just a waste of our time?

Advertisers fought for the favor of one of the biggest TV audiences of the year with heavily hyped commercials, and it mostly paid off for viewers. Though last year featured some great ads, 2012’s crop was just as good, if not better. Some viewers (including myself) complained of sexist overtones in some 2011 spots, but things finally seem to be somewhat headed in a new direction. Though there were far too many underdressed females (as in the annual sleaze-fest), there was also some male tackiness to go around, too -- as in H&M’s close-ups of David Beckham in his underwear. However, the vast majority of commercials steered clear of controversy, and fell into one of the following seven categories...

Best in Show

Vampires are cool these days. Cool vampires at the movies and on TV have hip parties in the middle of the forest. Audi knows that a lot of us out there are sick of vampires and their hipster shindigs.


Take that, trendy bloodsuckers.

2012 may be the end of the world as we know it, but Chevy will still be there to take a dig at Ford.


You cannot hurt a Twinkie!

How many beloved cartoon characters in this Met Life spot can you name? I’ll start you off: Charlie Brown, Woodstock, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Marcie, Franklin, Sally, and Snoopy from Peanuts, He-Man, Pepe Le Pew, Mr. Magoo, Atom Ant,...


Music Brings the People Together

Samsung Galaxy smartphones believe in a thing called love.


That ad was much cooler than any of those trendy Apple ads of yesteryear ever were.

Did you ever know you are the NFL’s hero? Actually, I am surprised that various members of the NFL can somewhat sing.


Hyundai thinks the theme from Rocky will inspire you to buy one of their cars.



The Coca-Cola bears are back! In the best of a series of three ads, a Giants fanbear bemoans their (temporary) loss in the third quarter.


The annual VW spot is actually two commercials in one, as the Star Wars Cantina patrons are watching the same thing as you. Odd, but interesting.


Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses are an annual tradition, but they were barely featured in this year’s Prohibition-themed ad.


Bud Light mixed their usual party theme with advocating shelter animal adoption.


The E*Trade baby gets a sibling!


That Pepsi-loving Coke driver gets a surprise when he buys a Pepsi Max.


I know inexperienced contest winners made this year’s Doritos spots, but did a vast majority of people really vote online for a commercial about a dog (possibly) killing a cat?



Drew Brees’ son might play in future Super Bowls, but until then, he has his own Chase Bank commercial.


Bridgestone tires imagined ways to improve football and basketball.


Special Guest Star

Honda and Matthew Broderick brought us this tribute to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


Where’s Cameron?

Elton John is not a benevolent dictator in this expensive-looking Pepsi spot, which co-stars X Factor winner Melanie Amaro.


Clint Eastwood has starred in entire movies that didn’t feature as much dialogue as this Dodge advertisement.


Jerry Seinfield really wants an Acura. Can’t anything happen on NBC without Jay Leno’s involvement?



Trailers for big event movies are a Super Bowl tradition, and this year offered quite a mixed bag with spots for The Dictator, Battleship, John Carter, The Lorax, The Avengers, and GI Joe: Retaliation.


Unsexy and They Don’t Know It

I was looking forward to the addition of the new female M&M, Brown, but this was just stupid. Where was Yellow? He was waiting for a better commercial to be in.


A foreign-speaking woman flirts with a nervous man before turning into a Fiat. That was a waste of our time.


Some of this year’s sleaze ads tried to appeal to all genders, as this spot for Camry shows two different types of “re-invented” couches.


And the guy in this KIA commercial drives away from a stadium full of bikini-clad women to meet up with a normal woman in a meadow.


What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial? Was this year an improvement over 2011? Let us know by commenting below.





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

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