Oh for the days of wardrobe malfunctions.
Really, you have to feel sorry for sour lemon-sucking media and online trolls sometimes. When there are no breasts bared or the possibility that a retired age rocker will collapse under the weight of his promotional boost, you've got to make your own fun when it comes to writing about the Super Bowl halftime show.
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Bruno Mars produces a hi-energy halftime performance but a classic the Red Hot Chili Peppers appearance knocks it out of the park
After several decades of outdoor performances at sporting events it has come to the attention of some of the press and commentariat that, heavens, not everything is live in a “live” show stuck on before or during a televised game.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who appeared for one song midway through Bruno Mars' star turn as the halftime headliner, have been criticised in some quarters because it appears they weren't playing live.
The evidence, such as it is, is that neither bassplayer Flea nor guitarist Josh Klinghoffer had their instruments plugged into an amp or anything visible. An initial tweet from Flea, in response to the fevered commentary, half answered but also inflamed the accusations when he wrote: "No trickery. No choice, but no trickery."
In a later statement, Flea confirmed that singer Anthony Keidis had been singing live to pre-recorded instruments and the trio of Flea, Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith.
"When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded," Flea wrote. He said that as football fans, and having talked with fellow musicians, "when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a lifetime crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it."
From a musical, television or just plain ordinary human not needing to vent on social media front, you have to ask, so what?
We're talking an event geared for TV not the stadium. We're talking a half hour show in volatile circumstances – outdoor, in the extreme cold, set up in minutes on a surface meant to be usable shortly thereafter for the sport of American football. And in this case we're talking not even the main performance but a three minute section mid-show. Not to mention it's an environment controlled not by the artists but by (understandably) risk-averse and (unfortunately) not music-focused television production companies.
Consequently, no matter what any of us think, playing every note live is not the priority for the Super Bowl, just as it isn't for the AFL or NRL grand finals. It's about putting on the right TV show. So while getting vocals live is standard – but not guaranteed - controlling the controllables generally means some or all the instruments are recorded earlier or shipped in from the original recording.
As Flea pointed out, they could have plugged their instruments in and pretended to be actually playing and no one would have known (as no one has known in previous years with even bigger names) but the Chili Peppers figured they'd be straight about it.
"It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it," he said. "Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people."
It's been happening for years. It will go on happening. You may not like it but you'd be one naive consumer if you were surprised, let alone shocked by this "revelation".
No trickery. No choice, but no trickery— Flea (@flea333) February 4, 2014
here is my answer as to why our guitars were unplugged at the Super Bowl http://t.co/XggAMxDxxS— Flea (@flea333) February 4, 2014
Remember, even the ARIA Awards — where they like to boast about how Australian music is built on a thriving live scene — resort to pre-recorded elements. This despite the show being (except for one unforgettable year) indoors, rehearsed, controlled and shown on delay. Most of the time the singing is live — there were questions at last year's show during one high-profile performance — but often some of the instruments are on tape and almost always the hard to capture perfectly elements such as string sections are being mimed.
Super Bowl controversy? Super-hyped commentary more like it.