Black Eyed Peas who? Bring back The Who!! Yes, I'm kidding.
by Chris K,posted Feb 7 2011 5:20PM
Yesterday was not a good day for pop music. After a 6 year absence (thanks a lot, Janet Jackson), pop artists returned to the limelight for Super Bowl XLV. Christina Aguilera of course famously flubbed the words to the National Anthem to get the day started, and then the general word of mouth on the Black Eyed Peas halftime performance was less than stellar as well. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what was so bad about it. I've seen them live a couple times, and this is pretty much what you get from "America's favorite party band" as I've heard them called. So my question to you is, if you thought their performance was no good, what was it lacking? Should we bring back The Who from last year's halftime, who sang a bunch of songs that came out before we were even born? Please no!
Here's my hypothesis of why their set was not well received. We've entered into a time in pop music where most of it is produced on a computer, and not with real instruments. This explains why so many songs today sound somewhat similar, especially when you consider the fact that it seems like just a few hot producers are responsible for much of the music on the radio at any given time. But being able to record and produce a hit song in the studio does not mean that the artist will be able to recreate that performance live on stage. When you take away musical instruments from such a big stage (I mean that literally and figuratively) as the Super Bowl yesterday, that void has to be filled with something, otherwise the stage appears empty. There's just not enough to look at. I think the Peas are the best of anybody in pop music today at compensating for the lack of instruments with their energy and stage presence. That being said, their act plays much better if you're there in person watching them at say Arco Arena, where they can also distract you with video screens and cool lighting effects, than it does to a television-viewing audience. It's much harder to feel their energy from thousands of miles away. So I'm thinking if the Black Eyed Peas couldn't pull it off yesterday, I'm not sure what pop act could. All the people surrounding the stage with their bodysuits lighting up green or red, forming the shapes of arrows or hearts was a pretty cool effect I thought. All in all, their set was what I expected it to be (minus a few technical microphone errors, which was outside of their control), a lot of Black Eyed Peas hits and a lot of running around. I also think back to the Britney Spears and NSYNC halftime performances a decade or so ago. They were great. So what was the big difference between they and the Peas? I suppose it's that Britney and NSYNC can dance, and of course incorporated lots of choreography into their set. Dancing isn't the Peas thing. And again, I'm a fan of the Black Eyed Peas, but could it be that they were a little out of their league in this type of performance?
So I guess the ultimate question then is this, does this confirm that music made on instruments is superior to music made on computers? Or does it only mean that music made by a live band translates better to a massive viewing audience than music pre-recorded in the studio?