This year’s Super Bowl halftime show features Beyonce and before the show is even over everyone will be scrambling to be the first person on Twitter to declare it the worst halftime show ever because that’s just the way people get down these days. But no matter how bad it might seem, just remember that it could always be worse. Much worse. After all, it will take an awful lot to even begin to compare with these, the seven worst Super Bowl halftime shows of them all.
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The Show: Boy band and national joke New Kids on the Block were joined by a bunch of kids and, inexplicably, NFL quarterback Warren Moon. They sang a couple of their hits and then the children sang “It’s a Small World After All” because apparently Super Bowl XXV took place in hell.
Why It Was Terrible: The whole show was basically one big fiasco, starting with the fact that it wasn’t even aired live because ABC decided to do the responsible journalism thing and cover the Gulf War as it happened instead. The halftime show then aired after the game was over, but even that didn’t air in several markets which chose to show the first episode of a forgettable sitcom called Davis Rules. Which is probably a good thing because the world didn’t need to see Marky Mark’s brother and his loser friends lip-syncing their way through this turd. And then to top it off, you have a bunch of kids singing a lame Disney Song. Thank God Saddam invaded Kuwait when he did. He saved us all from this dreck.
The Show: It’s hard to narrow down just one of the Up With People fiascos so let’s just lump them all in together as one bad acid trip, okay? Okay. Basically, Up With People was a super-happy and super-creepy performance troupe that put on themed shows in four different Super Bowls. These themes were: “200 Years and Just a Baby: A Tribute to America’s Bicentennial” at Super Bowl X; “A Salute to the Big Band Era” at Super Bowl XIV; “Salute to the 1960’s and Motown” at Super Bowl XVI; and finally “Beat of the Future” at Super Bowl XX.
Why It Was Terrible: Well, first of all, you have to understand what Up With People was all about. Originally created in the 1960s as the answer to the counter-culture movement, Up With People faced allegations of being more like a cult than an entertainment group, with everything from arranged marriages to a strict doctrine of right wing talking points. Sounds fun! Up With People was basically a huge joke and the Super Bowl would have been hard-pressed to find anyone less cool to play their show. And yet, they brought them back three more times after their initial crapfest. I mean, “200 Years and Just a Baby”? That sounds like a parody of a halftime show theme, not one that would actually ever exist. Look, no matter how much Beyonce lip-syncs her way through her show or no matter how old and sad the dudes from The Who look, at least they don’t look like the entertainment at a Halliburton company picnic.
The Show: Chubby Checker was dragged out of mothballs to pretend to be relevant again in 1988. He was backed up by the Rockettes and the San Diego State and USC marching bands. Yeah.
Why It Was Terrible: Nothing said cool in 1988 like Chubby Checker and the Rockettes. What, was Pat Boone unavailable? Chubby Checker was basically a one-hit wonder from a time when they still had sock-hops and Marty McFly had to fight off the sexual advances of his own mother. Nobody was clamoring to see him (or the Rockettes, who were basically last considered appealing during Hugh Hefner’s formative years) in 1988. Hell, he was considered a has-been by 1968. This would be like Spuds McKenzie being wheeled out during this year’s halftime show. It would just be more confusing than anything else.
The Show: Singer/comedienne Carol Channing led the Southern University marching band in “A Tribute to Mardi Gras.” I know that doesn’t make sense and it sounds like I just made that up using Mad Libs or something but, well, what can I tell you? (No video available, thank God.)
Why It Was Terrible: In case you don’t know who Carol Channing is, just picture Steven Tyler in drag. Okay, now once that terrible mental picture is fully processed, imagine that creature leading something called “A Tribute to Mardi Gras.” Good Lord. This was probably the first time that people actually threw beads at someone in an effort to get them to keep their top on. This was probably the worst thing to ever happen to the people of New Orleans. Even the people hanging out on their roof during Katrina were probably thinking “Well, at least this is better than watching Carol Channing.”
Photo credit: greginhollywood, Flickr
The Show: Aerosmith came out and sang that awful song from Armageddon, ‘N Sync did their thing, and then ‘N Sync and Britney Spears jammed with Aerosmith on “Walk this Way” which I can’t believe is a thing that actually happened and yet, here we are.
Why It Was Terrible: Look, I get that Britney and ‘N Sync were what all the idiot kids were listening to back then – I remember, I was there – but mashing them together with Aerosmith was just a godawful mess. At some point, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller even wandered by to do a prerecorded skit and, well, this was basically LOUD NOISES: the show. Plus, I can’t believe that they brought back Carol Channing and had her sing lead for Aerosmith.
The Show: Titled the ridiculous “Be Bop Bamboozled” this weird turd was an embarrassing experiment in 3-D starring an Elvis impersonator/musician (no, really) who performed what was billed as the world’s largest card trick (in 3-D!). For some reason, in a show starring an Elvis impersonator, no Elvis songs were played (in 3-D!).
Why It Was Terrible: Uh, just read that again.
The Show: Look, nobody remembers the actual show. They just remember what is referred to in polite circles as “Nipplegate” and everywhere else as “Tittygate.” Yes, this is the show where Justin Timberlake ripped open Janet Jackson’s shirt, revealing her booby.
Why It Was Terrible: The only reason this ranks number one is because of the reaction it caused. Prior to Boobygate TV was becoming more relaxed, more natural, and the old guard Puritan rules were starting to fall by the wayside. But in a post Boob world, the Church Ladies in the audience went nuts and suddenly the FCC started fining everyone for every tiny little infraction. It sucked. And while things have kind of settled down recently, the FCC still takes a more zealous approach to enforcement than they ever really did before. Also, it means that from now until the end of time, each Super Bowl halftime show will be carefully censored and made as safe and as corny as possible so as not to offend the soft-headed drama queen demographic. Unless of course Jay-Z decides to bang Beyonce at the 50 yard line. I mean, come on, who’s gonna stop Jay-Z?
(Previously published on Janaury 29, 2013.)