Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Eyed Peas pack serious halftime heat

The only thing I found annoying about the Black Eyed Peas halftime performance during yesterday's Super Bowl, was the outpouring of hyperbole and criticism that followed.

We live in a culture of hatred and entitlement, and I'm finding it harder and harder to disguise my disgust. It used to be you needed a modicum of training, etiquette and professionalism to be a critic. Now all you need is an internet connection.

Spelling, grammar and any hint of education are optional, and typically frowned upon.

Just because you and all of your like-minded friends may agree that you hate the Black Eyed Peas, does not mean that the Black Eyed Peas suck. It just means that you don't like the Black Eyed Peas. I follow a disproportional number of rock fans on Twitter, and I could have predicted their reaction before the halftime show even started. But that was tame compared to the reaction at the party I was at, where I was standing between members of the Guns N Roses camp.

The tough crowd got even tougher when the "Sweet Child O' Mine" cover started and Fergie delivered a little Axl Rose slither as she cozied up alongside Slash, GnR's iconic ex-guitarist.

I'm an Axl Rose loyalist to the core - but, admittedly, even that collaboration didn't bother me that much. The Super Bowl halftime show is arguably the biggest stage there is in music - can you blame the Black Eyed Peas for pulling out all the stops?

Unfortunately, they didn't sound great. But it's the halftime SHOW, not the halftime CONCERT. The spectacle was huge, and it delivered. No, maybe the performers didn't deliver as well as they - and others - may have liked, but if you are watching the Super Bowl with the sole intention of critiquing ads and the halftime show, you're part of today's problem, not part of the solution.

The Super Bowl is a worldwide institution and, in a lot of ways, its prevailing hooplah has come to represent everything that's wrong with America as we spiral through the 21st century as a culture of lemmings that care more about being heard, than about right, fair or even articulate.

I never got the guy's name, but I had a great conversation in the third quarter about how much money was spent on advertising, and where all that advertising money comes from... Us.

We're in a recession, but we're still fueling an economy that continues to cater to excess at a time when we should be dialing our habits down. I don't care how much money Budweiser pays to license a classic Elton John song, their product still tastes more like stale piss to me than it does beer.

Which brings me back to the Black Eyed Peas...

They are a pop music phenomenon, not a live music staple. Their songs are built around club beats and designed for dance floors, not live performances. And if you want to compare them musically to any other act that's performed halftime in recent memory, you're just advertising your own tunnel vision.

Black Eyed Peas are a production team, not a rock band. And they're damn good at what they do. In fact, they are amongst the best. That show last night was visually stunning, even if the vocals fell a little flat. But you know what? At least they were singing (or trying, as the case may be) - I'd rather relish the effort amidst the spectacle, than watch a lip-sync laughathon.

It didn't take a sound engineer to know there were sound problems. All their mics cut out at one point or another, and that's not the band's fault. Who knows what they were actually hearing on stage? Am I making excuses? Yes, I am - but I tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, not play armchair quarterback and pass judgment on the bells and whistles that surrounded the game.

Last night's game was a phenomenal steak dinner. The Black Eyes Peas performance was akin to finding some wilted lettuce in a salad that is highlighted by some superb blue cheese dressing.

If you're tuning into the Super Bowl to get your music fix, I feel sorry for you - there's so much more out there, you just need to open your ears and listen. And if you're one of those people screaming that the Black Eyed Peas suck and are a musical travesty, maybe it's time to look beyond your own short-sightedness.

They don't suck,they're just not your thing. To the masses that are not metal fans, Slipknot suck so hard they should change their name to Hoover. That doesn't make me appreciate them any less. Green Day is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me - that doesn't mean that they suck, it just means that they're not my thing.

To each their own... But we live in America, where people are incapable of compromise. It's all or nothing, and our way or the highway.

If you're liberal, all conservatives are evil. Period.

And if you're a rock fan watching the Black Eyed Peas during the Super Bowl, you've judged them before you even stop to consider the very nature of what they do, or how they do it. Yes, their performance wasn't perfect, but they were playing the Super Bowl, not the Grammy Awards.

It was a football game, and they provided a halftime spectacle - and an excellent one at that. To say that Fergie can't sing is just flat-out wrong - she can sing, even if she wasn't in top form Sunday night.

If you would care to discuss how your definition of music is different than a Black Eyed Peas fan's definition of music, that's another story altogether - but, again, we are talking about opinions, not facts.

I just think back to how I felt growing up, being a fan of heavy metal and having people talk down to me because that wasn't what they consider "real" music.

I remember how it felt when people would tell me that Metallica sucked, when in fact they were just scared and intimidated of the band and what they stood for. They said they aren't music, they're noise. Those judgmental people helped shape me into the person I am today - and those memories are what make me want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

As Dan Akroyd said in the cinematic opus Spies Like Us - we mock what we don't understand.

As for the Super Bowl? Don't hate the playas just cuz you don't like the game.

And as for me? I like the Black Eyed Peas, and all the boom boom pow they deliver.


Adam Bernard said...

I thought the Peas' halftime show was alright. Not great, not terrible. They were complete pros when their mics cut out, not missing a beat... even if we couldn't hear the beat at home.

All that being said, it REALLY made me miss what the Black Eyed Peas used to be:

I think anyone criticizing them as a pop act is a little silly. Their new album may be terrible, but denying the way The E.N.D. changed pop music is ridiculous.

And you're totally right, if someone is tuning in to the Super Bowl looking for a great concert they're idiots. I don't go to a concert expecting a great football game to break out.

andrew said...

Even Slash seemed to hold back a smile when Fergie broke into the Axl slither. Then again, she was grinding him pretty hard which would make any man smile.

Seriously though, as someone who knew close to nothing about the Peas before the show, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was a little disappointed the next day when I learned their performance wasn't "fresh" as they used the lighted dancers in the past. Although I shouldn't have been surprised seeing as though they were paid to perform, not to create a brand new stage show.

Anonymous said...

3 cover songs in their set and "tonight's gonna be a good night" played twice. They are not a good band and they do not have enough of their own songs to deliver. Terrible halftime show and pandering to idiot masses that haven't enjoyed the real musicians that have played the last few years.

Paul Gargano said...

Idiot masses... Ironic - that's precisely where I lump the people who leave anonymous notes on blogs that essentially back up every point that they just supposedly read.

Dave Hanning said...

Someone on the net that didn't downright hate Black Eyed Peas's performance in the Super Bowl halftime show! That's as rare as they come.

While, I don't expect a Super Bowl halftime show to be a great concert, it showed some great performances in the past by likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, U2 and Bruce Springsteen. In comparison to those performances, Black Eyed Peas' show were subpar. I'm not a hater of BEP, I liked their music during their early years, but my interest in them wane in recent years.

Craig said...

You know like them or not they brought the show, it takes balls to descend from the top of Texas stadium, I know I know it will always be that to me. As for the sound you can't fault the band because someone in a sat truck forgot to un-mute a few faders, it sounded GREAT in the stadium. The thing is you can't make everyone happy, no matter who plays there are going to be some people why bitch just because it's not their cup of tea