Finally, the Super Bowl halftime show was a concert more resembling the Puppy Bowl than the Grizzled Old Cur Bowl.
After several years of fifty- and sixtysomething classic rock acts -- a conservative play following Janet Jackson's controversial "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 -- the mid-game entertainment was back in the realm of (equally safe) thirtysomethings: the Black Eyed Peas, along with guests Usher and Slash (OK, he's 45).
Amid a field filled with dancers wearing LED-covered suits -- the simple but effective staging alternated between the futurist aesthetics of "Tron" and "Logan's Run" -- the Peas led a medley of eight dance-pop hits, including "Let's Get It Started," "Boom Boom Pow," "Pump It," their remake of "Time of My Life" (from "Dirty Dancing") and bookended by their biggest hit, the party anthem "I Gotta Feeling." The lyrics to "Where Is the Love?" describing many of the nation's current ills made for a rare moment of Super Bowl social conscience, however shallow and brief.
After descending from the arena's ice-covered ceiling on cables, the four Peas didn't move much beyond their marks except when the guests arrived; Slash stood still and played "Sweet Child o' Mine" while Fergie slithered around him doing her best yeowling Axl Rose impression, and Usher leapt over will.i.am into the splits during "OMG." The only real foul at this party was the horrible sound mix; the right microphone never seemed to be on.
The game began with pop tart Christina Aguilera singing the National Anthem. Or something like it.
Toward the end of "The Star-Spangled Banner," Aguilera -- dressed conservatively in black, plus a pair of ruby heels taller than the Hancock Tower -- botched a few of the words. She sang fine, doing her thing and turning each single syllable into three or four, but when she arrived at "O'er the ramparts we watched" she dropped the line, then tried to make up for it by singing, "What so proudly we watched" (instead of "so proudly we hailed").
The flub wasn't that noticeable unless you were singing along, though Twitter did nearly explode. Even superstars get nervous singing what is one of the most challenging songs in the American songbook (but certainly within Aguilera's multi-octave range) in front of one of the largest TV audiences of the year. Hey, she was no Roseanne.
(The videos have already been yanked from YouTube ...)