February 4, 2002
BY JIM DEROGATIS
The game that was supposed to be so predictable wound up holding a few
surprises after all. Meanwhile, the big-name musical entertainment at Super
XXXVI seemed like a tired rerun.
Taking a break from hanging out with Sen. Jesse Helms and agitating for the
of Third World debt, Bono led U2 through a condensed halftime version of the
show that the band has twice taken across the U.S., part of a publicity
blitz that has
been unrelenting since the release of "All That You Can't Leave Behind'' in
Shortly thereafter, we were treated to the cringe-worthy spectacle of Sir
McCartney (who was doing a little publicity of his own for an April concert
joining commentator Terry Bradshaw for an a cappella verse of "A Hard Day's
While the Fox Network missed no opportunity to trumpet this Super Bowl as a
celebration of ''the spirit of America,'' the producers somehow missed the
two of their three musical draws were Irish and English. Mariah Carey was
American citizen, but she got extra points for being a New Yorker.
Carey acquitted herself well during a low-key but still diva-esque reading
Star-Spangled Banner.'' Then again, even Bradshaw might have given a good
performance if he'd just been paid $49 million by Virgin Records not to make
In his own pregame slot, McCartney's delivery of his wooden singalong
was no more inspiring than at his "Concert for NYC'' last October.
But U2 was the biggest disappointment, grooving through the single
(which it has already played on several national broadcasts, including the
Grammys), then melodramatically unfurling a scroll with the names of the
Sept.11 as it plodded through a leaden reading of "Where the Streets Have No
A truly great rock band would have taken this moment of unprecedented
to offer a thoughtful comment on recent events. But the usually verbose Bono
even bother with his traditional plea for world peace, choosing to simply
stars-and-stripes lining of his Super Bowl jacket instead. U2 has never
more like a band camouflaging salesmanship as sincerity, and cravenness for
Ironically (though not surprisingly), the deepest statement of the evening
during the much-hyped commercials, when Pepsi used Britney Spears (or was it
the other way around?) to illustrate how effectively popular music has been
co-opted as a sales tool in every decade from the '50s through the present.
there is the spirit of America.
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