This is not an old-guy rant. Honestly. Well, maybe a little.
This is more the rant of a musician who’s played on stage and enjoys the live music scene as both a musician and an audience member.
So, we’ve just had Super Bowl 57 (it was holding) with Rihanna performing the halftime show on a stage that evoked memories of video games Super Smash Bros or Joust (remember that one?).
I am really not familiar with her music catalogue. So, this is not so much about her style or lyrical content, although I guess “B____ better have my money” qualifies as family entertainment these days. Her pop-R&B-hip hop-electronic dance music style is not to my taste, so this is not about that either.
I’m aware that the halftime show at the Super Bowl is not intended for guys like me. It’s not even intended for football fans. It’s meant to draw a wide audience in so that Apple Music (this year’s sponsor) or Bridgestone Tires or Pepsi can move more product.
Therefore, I will resign myself to the fact that the artists selected moving forward (ever since The Who played the stage in 2010) will not be in my stack of records.
You want to know what my biggest beef with the halftime entertainment is?
It’s not live music.
Rihanna, gyrating around with her team of dancers on suspended trusses flying up and down (this actually was pretty cool), lip-synced her entire performance. So, it was not even karaoke. It was fake karaoke.
Not live music.
I’d honestly rather hear a great college marching band than see what passes for pop entertainment these days.
Maybe it isn’t supposed to be live. I’m aware that with many pop music acts, choreographed dance moves are part and parcel of the act. So much so, that often at concerts artists don’t actually sing. If you’ve ever heard a live feed of some of these singers from a show, it’s probably for the best that their mics are muted.
I know the producers want to eliminate all chance of mistakes and mic drop-outs and technical glitches, so they put everything in a can so that there are no surprises. But in doing so, the life of the event is sucked right out.
To contrast this, go back to 2008. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, playing live instruments, singing their own songs. And if you go back to that show, you’ll hear something really special. The audience singing along.
2010. The Who, live drums, live guitars, Roger Daltry actually screaming, “Yeaaaaaaaaaah! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!”
And if there’s a sonic glitch, a bit of feedback, a broken string…well, that’s rock-n-roll.
I guess my main beef is that this canned stuff they’re putting out disrespects the thousands of musicians who play live every week. High school bands, the cover band at the local bar, the musicians at church, that band that no one knows except their loyal fans.
I don’t want to sound all curmudgeonly and all, but…I know, it’s only rock-n-roll, but I like it…live!’