THE WHO at the SUPERBOWL was the most watched performance by a rock band in history!
I told myself that I would not write about Super Bowl XLIV since it had nothing to do with Boston sports, but I am now forced to make an exception. This one was very special on three levels.
1. Peyton Manning is not better than Tom Brady after all!
Of course, one could argue that Manning's numbers for the decade are better than Brady's. However, three Super Bowl rings vs. one ring speak louder than statistics. We can't say Brady is the best quarterback of the decade, but now we can't say that Manning holds that title outright. This loss was huge for Indianapolis. Clear favorites, they lost to a team that took repeated win-or-lose gambles that paid off handsomely. Somewhere Bill Belichek is smiling. Or maybe not. The Saints' win means that the Colts -- even if you count the Baltimore years -- have only two Super Bowl championships to their name. Having won three would have put them in striking distance of the all time great NFL Dynasties and certainly a close second to the Patriots' "Dynasty of the New Millennium." Simply put, it was one of the most exciting, unusual Super Bowl games ever played and the win was huge for Pats fans.
2. The commericals were better and funnier.
I have to admit, I usually don't watch Super Bowl games from beginning to end. When I do watch, it is because I care about the teams involved, especially the New England Patriots. It's a well-known fact that most Super Bowl games are predictable and boring. I find it obnoxious when people say that the best part of watching the big game is the commercials. Why watch at all then? When I am compelled to watch, I am usually affronted by the amount of sleaze that corporate America pours upon us. Whether it's a dozen-and-a-half Viagra commercials or constant innuendo directed at what is supposed to be a family audience, I do not find the commercials the most enjoyable part of watching the Super Bowl.
This slew of commercials wasn't that bad, however, and one had a message that is near to my heart -- one that was hyped by lots of pre-game controversy -- more so than any other Super Bowl ad in history.
Just a bit of background to this. As a pro-life activist, I get NARAL's weekly email bomb signed by Nancy Keenan. (My reason for subscribing is the famous adage by General Douglas MacArthur, "Know your enemy.") This week's witch screed from NARAL was entitled: "Throw a Penalty Flag Against CBS!" -- which is all about Tim Tebow's mom's "anti-abortion" commercial (that would not be noticed as being an "anti-abortion" commercial if it hadn't been framed as such by Focus on the Family). It's such a neutral, feel-good, pro-family ad that even the Orlando Sentinel opined on Monday: "Now we can ask the question — what was all the fuss about?"
The commerical, I was surprise to find, turned out to be tremendously understated and downright uncontroversial. Judge for yourself:
Here is another version:
NARAL (a friend of mine calls them "SNARL!") calls on all pro-aborts to "focus" their anger by "throwing a penalty flag on CBS." Not to get too excited about this though, NARAL's fund raising letter writers live in an alternate reality where the Tebow commerical is offensive, "anti-choice politicians outnumber pro-choice lawmakers in Congress," and one-in-four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. (I won't post a direct link to NARAL's website, but you can follow the links from the phrases above.) Like the Tebow ad, the controversy will serve us well because it shows how extreme and out-of-touch these pro-aborts really are -- even among people who consider themselves "pro-choice." Also, you have to like the way they tie the Focus on the Family slogan to Personhood.
3. Super Bowl XLIV was the most watched event in human history!
NEWS ITEM: "CBS' coverage of Super Bowl XLIV was the most-watched program in an American television history, averaging 106.48 million viewers."
By extension, this means that the half-time show, featuring my favorite band of all time, The Who, was the most watched performance by a rock group in history. And that is the main reason why I succumbed to the cliché and downed Cheetos and beverages for 90 minutes waiting for the grand moment -- The Half Time Show! -- a 12-minute medley of five abbreviated Who songs. Even if you don't like The Who, the spectacle of a 50-yard long circular stage, that dwarfed the band and pulsated light, lasers and pyrotechnics, stole the show.
If you click on the YouTube videos above, you can read the comments, which are of course mixed. I wouldn't have it any other way. It was the "'Orrible 'oo" in all their glory! Are 100 million people all going to like the Who? I hope not! As Mike Myers and Dana Carvey pointed out in Wayne's World:
Garth Algar: Uh, Wayne?
Wayne Campbell: Yeah?
Garth Algar: Do you ever get the feeling Benjamin's just using us?
Wayne Campbell: Good call. It's like he wants us to be liked by everyone. I mean Led Zeppelin didn't write tunes everybody liked. They left that to the Bee Gees.
Just consider that the late, great Keith Moon and John Entwistle actually invented Led Zeppelin and you'll get the idea. I find it humorous that the most common complaint is that they were "too old" (ironic on several levels that I'll leave to true Who fans to understand) and that "Roger has lost the top end of his register."
What? Roger Daltrey has a "top end"? Since when? Have these people ever listened to a Who concert before? If not, go and buy or download Live at Leeds, Live at the Isle of Wight or watch the great rockumentary, The Kids Are Alright. This will forever dispel the notion that Daltrey ever had anything resembling a strong singing voice when performing live. True, the band managed to pull off some nice moments with Pete Townshend and John Entwistle providing the high harmonies in a controlled studio setting. It yielded them some sounding nice pop songs, yet with an edge. But this isn't the point of the band live. Not at all! Not even the watered-down latter-day version without their best drummer and bass player, Moon and Entwistle.
In Daltrey's own words circa 1978:
Our main ambition right now is to get back on the road with the horrible Who, the worst rock n' roll group in the world ... You couldn't pick four more horrible geezers to make the worst sound you've ever heard in your life.
And in the end, they gave us the most watched rock band performance of all time.
Not to be taken away.