Monday, February 7, 2011

Off Topic: Super Bowl 45! (Not about football)

The Super Bowl used to be my one football sporting event of the year, back when I was exclusively a TV girl and watched the occasional minute of sports just to prove I was well-rounded. Proof: I have no recollection of the Raiders and Bucs in the 2003 Super Bowl, but I remember the episode of Alias that aired after it. It was a great episode!

Obviously, entertainment plays a huge role in the biggest NFL game of the year, and why wouldn't it? Nothing gets better ratings than the Super Bowl. Not even American Idol, and that alone should be proof that there is justice in this world sometimes. So I look forward to all the singing and the celebrity sightings and the postgame TV (and the commercials when I get to see them). This year was... interesting.

Maroon 5. I missed this due to hockey, so I tried watching it online. I stopped the video after about a minute. I could have maybe understood seeing Maroon 5 at the Super Bowl when they were burning up the charts about seven years ago, but seeing Maroon 5 at the Super Bowl now makes no sense at all. Was this supposed to be some kind of peace offering, the NFL inviting a California band to the Super Bowl after some announcers implied that Mark Sanchez was "soft" because he's from California?

Lea Michele singing America The Beautiful. She's been Fox's go-to It Girl for a little while now, and her appearance would help promote Glee so that maybe a few straight guys could get over their macho hangups and give the show a chance. She was dressed very tastefully, which came as kind of a surprise because lately she's had a lot of fun being glamorous and/or sexy. She has a lovely voice, but I've heard her sound better.

Christina Aguilera singing The Star Spangled Banner. A lot of people criticized her appearance for some reason, which I don't understand. They should have focused their negativity on her singing. She sounded a little rough. Also she flubbed the lyrics. I understand that singing the anthem at the Super Bowl can be extremely high-pressure for a singer, but... how do you mess up your own national anthem? Anyway. At least it wasn't as bad as that time Roseanne sang, right?

The Black Eyed Peas. Oh dear. I was opposed to this idea even before it was announced. Luckily I was prepared:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Gaffel Kölsch. I had not seen any brand of Kölsch since I first had it in Germany five and a half years ago. It is quite possibly the only type of beer I've ever liked. It's also the reason why this post wasn't published in the morning.

I'm too afraid to rewatch the Black Eyed Peas' performance on YouTube but I kinda want to, in the same way some people watch those shows about toddler beauty pageants.

BEP weren't dressed for the Super Bowl. They were dressed for a very shiny dystopian future. I feared some type of awful mashup when I heard the opening riff to "Sweet Child O Mine" only to find out that poor Slash had somehow been coerced into this halftime show (Guest Appearance #1). And then Fergie sang some more. I don't understand how a voice that can sound so great on record can be so painful live. Maybe she should've used some of that robot Auto-Tune her bandmates had.
Then they did "Let's Get It Started," which technically they should have opened with, but Hot Tub Time Machine and The Office star Craig Robinson was nowhere to be found (Missed Chance At A Guest Appearance #1). Then people made a bunch of Tron jokes because the dancers were glowing. What they don't know is that almost the exact same costumes were used in the climactic dance battle of Step Up 3-D, a movie that owes me two hours of my life back but feels like a masterpiece of 21st-century pop culture compared to this halftime show.
See? It's the exact same thing.
Then somehow Usher showed up, in all his radio-clogging, Auto-Tuned, overproduced glory (Guest Appearance #2) and as fast as you could say "Please stop sucking, Usher," he kind of stopped sucking. A little bit. I mean, his music hasn't been any good since before I discovered Kölsch, but he actually put on a show for the first time in ages. (Anyone who's seen Usher perform at recent awards shows knows what I mean.)

Then BEP decided to veer away from their bizarre leather version of the future and brought us a blast from the past. Suddenly everything went all red and hearts and cheer and they performed "Where Is The Love." Which was a pretty decent song when it came out, the same summer I discovered Kölsch. But that was a long time ago, and bringing that song back just reminded everyone of how far they've fallen. It was basically the musical equivalent of chanting "67!" at Leafs fans. Also, am I the only one willing to  admit that that song was popular (in part) because of a chorus by Justin Timberlake? (Missed Chance At A Guest Appearance #2, unless he really is banned from the Super Bowl for life.)

Oh, and as an anglophone Montrealer, I was offended by the people with the square heads.

And then, mercifully, it ended. Never in my life had I been so happy to see football.
Then the Packers won! I was right, my big brother was right, Matthew Ross was right, and Bill Simmons was right, so it was a good night all around.

Glee. I was so excited to see what they'd do in this episode. Many of the episodes this season had huge musical production numbers ("The Time Warp" being a notable example), so my expectations were pretty high. There'd been rumours of a Bruce Springsteen song being sung, then a Bruce Springsteen tribute episode, then a guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen, then those rumours were quashed and replaced by the announcement that they'd be doing "Thriller." Best described in the episode by Mr. Schuester as "the most iconic song of all time." There hadn't been a new episode since before Christmas. I was jazzed.

Like most openings to a Super Bowl episode, the show tried to cater to a post-Super Bowl audience in order to grab their attention. Bring in the cheerleaders.

I wasn't a huge fan of the beginning of this episode. It didn't quite toe the line between vintage Glee and broad comedy as well as I'd hoped. (I would have loved to hear one of her "You think this is hard?" lines. My personal favourite is "I'm passing a gall stone as we speak, *that's* hard.") Also, the football team did an absolutely terrible job of ambushing Artie with slushies.
Then, like many football games I've seen this season, things picked up. A lot of the best things about the show's story this season were brought up: Kurt having transferred to another school after being bullied by gay jock Karofsky, the hate that basically everyone in the school has for the Glee Club, Sue Sylvester refusing to be anything but the best. The next musical number confused me a little: Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" isn't exactly the most rocking jock jam I've ever heard, but it's insanely popular and gave a good showcase for Fox It Girl Lea Michele to prove just how pretty and talented she is.

(Also, the Chevy commercial. I should hate it but it's just so good.)

There was time for some classic hilarity when Sue Sylvester threw a tantrum. Then it was zombie time. First, the boys did a creepy-cool cover of The Zombies' "She's Not There" in full zombie makeup, as a team-building exercise and preparation for "Thriller."
Weak point in the episode: the football team gets slushied by the hockey team. (Kids on Glee get humiliated by having Slushies thrown in their faces in the hallways, in case you didn't know.) But I just don't like that a show that tries so hard to build interesting characters still finds comedy in really obvious things like hockey players with mullets, or fat kids that can be bribed with chocolate. Until, of course, the show apologized to me by having Darren Criss lead a rival glee club in covering "Bills Bills Bills". I don't know what appeal that number had to first-time watchers, but as a fan I loved it.

Oh, and then there was football stuff. And then they mashed up "Thriller" with "Heads Will Roll" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it made up for every mashup this show has done that I didn't like. I kind of wish they'd release a full-length version of the video without any shots of audience reaction, which were useful plot-wise but took away from the song itself.

Glee can do music. And football. Really well. It was a fun episode overall and hopefully is a sign of what we can expect from the second half of the season. I think anyone's doubts about the show as an appropriate Super Bowl coda have been quashed.

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