Anything That's Rock 'N' Roll

This is what it sounds like/When sparks fly. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Sunday was a musical kind of day on Fox. Kinda.

In between all the lame ads (many of which featured familiar music or familiar musicians); lamer Ryan Seacrest interviews; inane analytical blather ("the New York football Giants can not win this football game unless they protect the football"); and the incredible game itself, there were a bunch of performances.

Let there be rock!

Or, let there be a live, languorous country performance, anyway: The first musical segment during the pre-game telecast was a torporific Willie Nelson-Sara Evans duet on "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" - the highlight of which was the high-def close-up of Willie's delightfully decrepit guitar, Trigger.

The thing is a national treasure. So, too, is Nelson, even if the duet fell flat.

There was also a perfectly passable medley of Alicia Keys hits, during which the R&B singer's stage was surrounded by a bunch of dorky fans whose collective rhythmic sensibilities were seriously lacking.

Most memorable was Paula Abdul's "performance." Abdul has a new single on Randy Jackson's upcoming album, and Sunday marked the song's official debut. Abdul couldn't quite get herself to perform it live, though. Her segment was recorded before the telecast, and it didn't include any actual live singing: After a cliched marching-band intro, Abdul lip-synced a line from her 1988 hit, "Forever Your Girl," which gave way to the new "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" - during which she did not, in fact, dance like there's no tomorrow. She lip-synced like there was an auto-tuned vocal being played back, though! (Not as bad or obvious as the new Janet single. But awfully close.) Wonder if they'll be teaching this year's crop of "American Idol" finalists how to fake your way through a performance. It's an important survival skill, apparently.

Of course, the big show came at half-time, when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed shortened versions of four songs from Petty's catalogue. Notably, three of them ("Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'," "Runnin' Down a Dream") were from TP's 1989 solo album, "Full Moon Fever." But who's counting (besides the guys in the Heartbreakers)? They played on a stage outlined with neon and shaped like that great Heartbreakers logo: a heart shot through with a Gibson Flying V. As they performed, David Malitz and I exchanged lame and inane thoughts in real time, via IM. Transcript after the jump.

Malitz: i wonder if he will do any foo fighters covers. i hope this is better than the puppy bowl
du Lac: flashing heart! get it?

Malitz: it's the 50+ year old vocal version of american girl - and zombie don knotts on bass
du Lac: mike campbell looks like ROB zombie with that hair

du Lac: billary must love hearing their campaign theme on national tv
Malitz: tom petty's kinda looking like the guy at the end of the last indiana jones movie these days. ' you chose ... poorly'

du Lac: the neon stage is way too cool and high-tech for these guys. i could live inside mike campbell's amp, though
Malitz: hearing the crowd sing along is pretty neat ... until you see them flashing the lyrics on the screen

du Lac: won't back down. wonder if w is watching?
Malitz: i feel pretty confident that there's minimal backing tracks being used

du Lac: love the roadie with his name on the shirt
Malitz: ooh he's playing one of those guitars that's like, two guitars (credit: otto)

du Lac: it's all about economy of equipment. free fallin: is johnny depp gonna cameo here?
Malitz: i wonder if this messes up the field at all for the second half. if ahmad bradshaw trips on a long run because of bad turf and doesn't win MVP and i lose my ridiculous prop bet, i will be upset

du Lac: yes, don't do malitz like that. pretty obvious set, but it's working
Malitz: yeah, it's workmanlike, effective ... won't be making anyone forget prince last year, but hard to complain too much

du Lac: petty should put on a do rag
Malitz: petty in a do rag might look too much like bret michaels

du Lac: hey, campbell is playing the other half of the guitar. top neck on free fallin, bottom one on runnin' down a dream. it's all about economy of equipment (speaking of bret michaels)
Malitz: well that was very good without being too shocking or exciting at all, which pretty much sums up petty

du Lac: yeah, though i was surprised to see jimmy page on stage. oh, wait--that was ron blair
Malitz: didn't the stones have the audacity to play a new song a few years ago? at least petty didn't spring the last dj on us

du Lac: promo for tom petty on king of the hill! it's good to be king
Malitz: ok, let's predict next year's half time show

du Lac: your 2009 half-time entertainment: the eagles
Malitz: i'll go with a stevie wonder and friends extravaganza

du Lac: hey they're playing arcade fire now as bumper music
Malitz: joe buck probably recommended them, he always calls out the "hip, new" bands going to and coming back from commercial

du Lac: stevie wonder performed in 1999
Malitz: damn! ok, limp bizkit reunion with special guests korn and staind. i'm calling it now

du Lac: lay off the "special spinach dip." eagles are 3:2 favorites. garth is 5:2
Malitz: so what you're saying is walmart is producing next year's halftime show

du Lac: yes, and to get onto the field, you need a blue vest instead of this year's yellow wristband
Malitz: and if you get trampled while running on the field, insurance will not cover you

du Lac: that's right. non-union fans
Malitz: go gints
du Lac: go bradshaw

By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 4, 2008; 12:44 PM ET TV Music
Previous: The Two-Minute Man, Episode 12: Heavy Hitters Edition | Next: More From the Chat: Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime


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Hey a little credit over here. My comment from jan 5 in the 2 minute man post.
"i think you might be wrong on the Petty super bowl songs by saying 'i won't back down' won't be one of them. it's a perfect song title for a football game. neither team will be looking to back down. they will find their inspiration from Petty."
it worked.
Posted by: T.S. | January 5, 2008 10:28 AM

Posted by: T.S. | February 4, 2008 6:03 PM

Very well done, T.S. You should have found some sweet online action on one of those Canadian betting sites.

Posted by: David | February 4, 2008 6:14 PM

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