What Your Halftime Performance Says About You

Since the Arizona Cardinals are involved, it's pretty hard to get excited about Sunday's Super Bowl. Maybe that's why everyone is so pumped for the halftime show with Bruce and the E Street Band.

Predicting the set list isn't just for bloggers and Bruceologists who spend too much time refreshing the BTX board on Backstreets; it's for bettors, too.

But whatever the set list ends up being, it will tell us a lot about the Boss. In fact, looking at the last four Super Bowl halftime acts, I'd argue that those brief sets told us the dominant trait of each performer.

2008: Tom Petty = Everyman
No frills, no surprises, just workmanlike, getting the job done. He played all the most obvious hits -- "American Girl, "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" -- and didn't mess around with any different arrangements, didn't bring extra band members, didn't even wear a wacky outfit. Expect the expected.

2007: Prince = Unpredictable
Prince's halftime performance was probably the best one ever, although I say that having not seen any video footage of the Southeast Missouri State Band from Super Bowl V. His was the best even though it was a medley, and there are few things lamer than a medley. What possessed Prince to cover Foo Fighters' "Best of You"? Don't know, don't care. It was every kind of awesome.

2006: The Rolling Stones = Shills
"Start Me Up" is pure cheese, but an obvious choice for a Super Bowl halftime show. "Satisfaction" was also a given. So that meant there was one song up for grabs and the Glimmer Twins went with "Rough Justice," from their then-new album "A Bigger Bang." The Stones are always pushing a product, and with 90 million pairs of eyes on them there was no way they weren't going to get a plug in, no matter how badly you wanted to hear "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

2005: Paul McCartney = Safe
Macca was the choice for the first post-wardrobe malfunction halftime show and his pleasing-but-plenty-vanilla performances of "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die" and "Hey Jude" were just what the FCC ordered. You want inoffensive? How's "beep beep, beep beep, yeah!" work for you?

By David Malitz |  January 29, 2009; 5:28 PM ET Politics , Set Lists , Sports , Springsteen
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