While waiting for those assembled at the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState to finish their ever-growing roundup of recent events, some thoughts on this past Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show suggest themselves.
If you are a fan of 1990s rap, you doubtless found the festivities enthralling. If not, should one believe mainstream media, you’re obviously a racist, or at least would be were Eminem not one of the performers. Naah, you’re probably a racist anyway.
Sarcasm aside, true music fans and musicians alike have been a notoriously colorblind bunch over the past century. The jazz era found hepcats routinely frequenting Harlem nightclubs to hear the genre’s titans. Benny Goodman brought guitarist extraordinaire Charlie Christian to halls that normally wouldn’t let a black man or woman enter save to clean the place with the mandate that, “If he doesn’t play, neither do I.” And so on. Speaking of Goodman and Christian, feast your ears on this delight from their time together, tragically cut short by Christian’s death from tuberculosis at 25.
So no, it’s not always about race when someone expresses disdain for an artist in particular or a genre in general. Some of us would rather listen to people singing and playing who have skin in the game; people bringing passion and purpose to their art.
Which leads to Foo Fighters.
Following this past Sunday’s Super Bowl, there was an attempt at an online VR concert with Foo Fighters. The VR elements were something less than a rousing success, but despite the distraction of cameras incapable of staying out of each other’s way the band played a rousing set.
Foo Fighters are a unique story in popular music. Birthed from tragedy, no one knew what to expect when Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl stepped out from behind his drum kit and strapped on a guitar following Kurt Cobain’s suicide. What the audience got wasn’t Nirvana Part II but rather a skillful amalgamation of grunge, punk, and melodic hard rock that quickly won an audience far outstripping even Nirvana’s massive reach. Grohl has proven to be both master showman and supreme champion of rock in the face of pop and, yes, rap’s growing dominance in contemporary music. Foo Fighters are one of the very few acts to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, for whatever that’s worth, while still in their prime.
So why can’t they play the Super Bowl halftime show?
I mean, I get it. In the NFL’s never-ending drive to appear down with the struggle, back in 2019 it signed an agreement with Jay-Z’s production company to put together the Super Bowl halftime show. At the time he said:
Jay-Z said he would gauge its success by criteria such as whether players’ voices are heard and whether the Super Bowl halftime show becomes “more inclusive of all types of music.”
“If we can’t get this done in, like, five years,” he said, “then we need to sit down and evaluate where we are.”
A quick review of the three shows Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s production company) have gifted us with:
- Shakira and Jennifer Lopez
- The Weeknd
- Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar
Yeah, that’s inclusive. Or exclusive of anything worth a listen.
So again I ask: why can’t we have Foo Fighters play the next Super Bowl halftime show? Real music by and for real people who care about what they consume?
My guess is it’d be far too embarrassing to have Dave Grohl sing this:
When you, Jay-Z, give us this (warning: language, misogyny).
Join the conversation as a VIP Member