Entertainment behind the scenes
Nobody can deny that rock icon Bruce Springsteen put a lot of sweat into his 12-minute Super Bowl half-time show. But it left the critics still pining for a little more.
The New York Times wrote in its review that Springsteen “rose to the occasion, but never above it.”
The paper noted that Springsteen, whose songs often run longer than the average two-minute pop hit, dropped verses in the four songs he performed during the half-time show, the better to fit them all into his set.
Todd Martens at the Los Angeles Times music blog Pop & Hiss wrote that the Springsteen show was not a concert “but a teaser — and it was, admittedly, an entertaining one — for Springsteen’s upcoming tour.”
Stephen Metcalf at the online magazine Slate.com wrote that Springsteen misread his television audience with the performance. “The national mood is sober bordering on a galloping panic. Lively as he was, I wouldn’t say the Boss did much to either banish or capture it,” Metcalf wrote.
And Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribute blog Turn It Up wrote that as entertaining as the show was, it revealed the best and worst of Springsteen. He noted Springsteen’s line telling viewers to put down the guacamole dip, and his play-acting with a referee who ran on stage. “This was Springsteen as song-and-dance man, an accomplished artist reduced to pandering,” Kot wrote.
If nothing else, Springsteen proved himself to be flexible for a 59-year-old man, at one point sliding across the stage and into a television camera. Springsteen had been approached for years to play at the Super Bowl, but he always said no until this year. Was it worth the wait?
The Boss is heading into his Super Bowl half-time show on Sunday, and even though he is no football fan, Bruce Springsteen knows how to talk a good game.
Springsteen, 58, told reporters at a news conference ahead of the Bowl that his decades-old E Street Band has just gone through a “golden age” and is playing its best music ever.
“We’re a bunch of old soldiers, but the band is still burning,” he said.
President Barack Obama’s election seems to have lightened up Springsteen, who cast a bleak view at the Bush administration. Click here to read about it.
Springsteen’s new album “Working On a Dream” was released on Tuesday to mixed reviews. The first song on it “Outlaw Pete” has the Internet blogosphere buzzing over suggestions the melody sounds uncannily similar to costumed rock band Kiss’ 1979 hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.”
Inevitably, the two songs were juxtaposed on video sharing site YouTube.com to give everyone a chance to judge the similarities.
Did the Boss really do it? In the modern music industry, borrowing a tune quickly gets labeled stealing. But Springsteen also comes from America’s folk music tradition. Folk icon Woody Guthrie took the melody for his anthem “This Land Is Your Land” from the Carter Family, who are also legends in the folk world — and his reputation was never hurt by that reinterpretation. Springsteen has called that song song “one of the most beautiful songs ever written.”
Bob Dylan — another Springsteen predecessor — has made liberal use of “borrowed” material throughout his career in and out of folk music, most recently reworking the Muddy Waters song “Trouble No More” into the strikingly similar “Someday Baby” on his 2006 album “Modern Times.”
So maybe Springsteen gets a pass if his song sounds like a Kiss track, especially since so many pop songs exist out there. Some are bound to start sounding alike. Then again, British supergroup Coldplay could never use the folk music excuse when they were pilloried for recording a song that appeared to resemble a riff from virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani.
If nothing else, Springsteen can rest assured that with his Super Bowl show and a budding song controversy, music fans are talking about him again. He’s even reaching new audiences.
“If you don’t die, after awhile young people show up in the front row,” Springsteen wryly told reporters this week.
That’s something you probably can’t say about Kiss.