And now for something completely different...
I can no longer bring myself to read another word about Texas basketball. Sorry, Trips; you've done brilliant work, but it is becoming uncomfortably like Taxi Driver or Leaving Las Vegas: undeniable artistic merit, with a sigh of relief that is over, never to be watched again. Then I take something for the nausea and the sun comes up again.
I need mindless release, the kind that comes from either a Jason Bourne movie or a top ten list. I can only produce the latter. I am child of the 1970s and an adolescent of the Reagan era, before the dawn of business casual. Raised on The Book of Lists and Letterman, this is my wheelhouse. It is who I am.
Today's topic: the next ten aging rock and roll stars who should play the Super Bowl halftime show. Why me? Because I represent the NFL marketing department's perfect now demographic (as opposed to the future demographic, which appears to be brain-dead and Bud Light-addled misogynistic single males).
I am 43 and white. I have a wife and three kids. I buy cars, homes and financial services. Soon, Big Pharma will solve any cholesterol, prostate or virility issues that may beset me. Heaven forbid I rely on diet and exercise. Did I mention I was white?
I know the back catalog of the Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney like the back of my hand. Those are the six acts that have performed in the "huge concert" era: one band, one sponsor (U2's performance was a tribute to the 9-11 victims, not a planned concert mega-event). This era, of course, was in response, to the bodice-ripping incident of 2003. Sorry, no pictures, this is a family column.
The NFL obviously plays by a few new rules regarding halftime acts:
a. They must be safe. No one can be offended; adherence to this rule even led the NFL to use a five-second delay during the Rolling Stone's performance. As an aside, I would love to see the "Do not, under any circumstances, play Darling Nikki" clause in Prince's contract.
b. They must be able to play, in quick succession, at least three songs that the vast majority of the viewing audience knows. Springsteen only got away with his boring and forgettable "hit" Working on a Dream because, well, he's Bruce Springsteen, and he played the gospel mass choir card, white America's favorite paean to diversity. Speaking of...
c. They must appeal to white folks. The infamous 2003 show also violated this rule, featuring P. Diddy and Nelly, alongside Justin and Janet. For that matter, Kid Rock also got an invite. What in God's name were they thinking?
d. No Country: OK, they may relax this rule at some point because I am sure that "Rockin' Country Sunday" from Atlanta was a real kick back in 1994 (Travis Tritt, Reba McIntyre, Clint Black AND the Judds!).
Here's who the NFL will book next:
1. The Eagles: The perfect familiar middle-aged megastars. The only problem is that such an appearance should happen in California, where they don't play the Super Bowl anymore.
2. David Bowie: Completes the iconic British rocker set, assuming they are never going to re-assemble Led Zeppelin and someone in management realizes that Rod Stewart looks (and sings) like an 80-year-old. I guess they could go with Clapton, but Bowie provides much better odds that the crowd might actually stay awake through the entire performance.
3. Seal: He's hip. He's cool. He's black. He's married to a super model. If he doesn't have three songs everyone knows, then he can sing Crazy twice and throw in a Sam Cooke cover.
4. Journey: Slam dunk...and no one will even care that Steve Perry has been replaced by a vocal doppleganger from the Phillipines.
5. R.E.M.: Dangerously close to indie subversiveness. You also run the risk of Michael Stipe going off on corporate America and the oppression inherent within the system. But man, they would be great.
6. Los Lobos: And please don't patronize them by making them play La Bamba. Is it just because I live in Texas, or does the NFL completely ignore the Hispanic market? Name me one ad during an NFL telecast that even remotely appeals to middle class Latino families. Hint: there are millions of them, NFL fans, too. Pay attention.
7. Van Halen: But only with David Lee Roth, who's too old to do anything really offensive. They fit all the other criteria perfectly.
8. Pearl Jam: Among the Seattle grunge brethren, Pearl Jam is the most accessible act (and the biggest, for that matter). Give them about five years and their own fan base will be in the mid-40s marketer's sweet spot. Unless...
9. The Foo Fighters: I would love to see it, but this may be a reach. When we look back on rock history ten years from now, FF may go down as the last of the huge arena rock bands. The music world seems irreparably segmented today as the concept of the "album" dies a slow death under the weight of i-Tunes.
10. KISS: Sounds crazy, but hell, they got a slot on American idol, of all things, last season. I also don't remember the last time Gene Simmons ever turned down the chance to make a buck.
Where's Aerosmith? They are an obvious choice, but they actually appeared in 2001 (with N' Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly--I can't make this stuff up). Same with ZZ Top, who appeared in a Blues Brothers tribute in 1997.
Ten equally huge acts that would be far more interesting than these: Green Day, Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jay-Z, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Roger Waters, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Eminem.
Odds of any of them performing: about the same as Los Angeles ever being a successful home for an NFL franchise.