Let’s be honest, the Super Bowl halftime show has never really been about the music. Much like the multimillion-dollar commercials before and after it, the halftime show has always been about the spectacle.
From Queen Beyoncé’s reunion with Destiny’s Child last year to Prince’s suggestive guitar handling back in 2007, the halftime show always walks the fine line of over-the-top entertainment and complete circus.
This year’s halftime show, which was headlined by Bruno Mars and featured an appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was relativity well-polished compared to years past and boasted the largest number of views in the show’s history, roughly 115.3 million.
So how to do they make sure that the most-watched event on television goes off without a hitch? Eliminate any chance for embarrassing technical difficulties, even if that means having a well-seasoned rock band pre-record their music and then mime playing their instruments.
Shortly after their performance of their song “Give It Away,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the subject of internet chatter when fans pointed out that the instruments the band members were playing were not plugged in.
The band’s bassist Flea responded to the controversy on Tuesday with a blog post on the band’s website, explaining to fans that they were urged by the NFL not to play live due to the possible technical difficulties that come from a rushed set up of the instruments. The band viewed its brief performance as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and agreed to pre-record a version of the song.
Fans should appreciate Flea’s attempt to be honest and straightforward with them regarding the issue, but let’s face it, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are no Britney Spears or Ashley Simpson. They have been around for over 30 years and have proven many times over the course of the band’s career that it can play live, sometimes wearing nothing more than tube socks.
They are hardly the first band to be asked to play along with a pre-recording song on a televised event. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band also reportedly played with a tape when they performed at the Super Bowl half time show back in 2009.
By now, viewers at home should understand that with all pressure riding on the “performance” part of the half time show, the musicians playing may need a little help ensuring the quality of the sound and stop addressing the issue each year. The purpose of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s appearance was to inject some variety into Mars’s purely pop performance, and that mission was accomplished.