Was that a great Super Bowl game or what? It had everything – an underdog (the victorious Philadelphia Eagles), a villain (the New England Patriots and Mr. “I’m Tom Brady and you’re not”), seesaw drama, frustrated placekickers, sleight-of-hand plays in the end zone and a modest hero (Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, the un-Brady). It was a most satisfying night, one that proved, as my beloved Aunt Mary always said, that if something is meant for you, it will be there for you – even if you’re an improbable second-string QB like Foles (who I somehow think will never be a second-string quarterback again. Now if someone would just give Colin Kaepernick a job).
That said, the halftime show was meh. Justin Timberlake is a talented guy, but whatever happened to shows in which people, you know, sang? All the emphasis on spectacle, as we will see in the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony Friday, just dilutes the intended effect– although Jane, one of my colleagues and friends, reminds me that such spectacle exists because the NFL has such big arenas to fill.
Fair enough but I think the best acts – think Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – are the ones that rely on the music, as Timberlake’s own duet with the late Prince reminded us. Could you actually hear anything Timberlake rapped? Can you remember any of it?
The commercials fared somewhat better. Hated the Tide guy or guys. Sick of self-congratulatory, socially minded companies. (That means you, Budweiser.)
On the other hand, two of my favorites used examples from the pinnacle of culture – the Olympics promo set to the overture from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” (you can never go wrong with Mozart) and the Dodge Ram Truck spot set to the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ditto. (The King Center tweeted that it doesn’t approve the commercial use of his words. I was still happy to hear them, even in a commercial context.)
Cure Auto Insurance Company took aim at Brady, the Patriots and Deflategate (remember that?) in two edgy ads. And Keanu Reeves surfed the open road on a motorcycle for Squarespace. (Love Keanu).
And what would Super Bowl Sunday be without the Manning Brothers? Peyton turned up at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, as “Vacation Quarterback.” But New York Football Giants’ QB Eli stole the show in a bit with teammate Odell Beckham Jr. right out of “Dirty Dancing.”
It was enough to make The Washington Post proclaim – tongue planted firmly in cheek – “The Giants Beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl Again….” (If only.)
Football is a brutal sport. (Look at Pats wide receiver Brandin Cooks’ head injury early in the game.) But there is beauty in it as well.
And sometimes a kind of goofy grace.