With the feel-good storyline of the underdog New Orleans Saints winning Sunday night’s big game 31-17 and taking a championship home to their once-ravaged city, it was easy to overlook the usual Super Bowl sideshows: the commercials and the halftime extravaganza. Here, we breakdown the best and worst of Super Bowl XLIV’s musical moments.
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Context: Volkswagen “PunchDub” commercial
Why It Was Great: We remember the “Punch Buggy” game from our youth, so the playful tones of the Brooklyn band’s toy piano-led cut of Veckatimest were a perfect complement to VW’s campaign.
Artist: The Heavy
Context: Kia “Big Game” commercial
Why It Was Great: The soulful British band’s classic-sounding R&B tune “How You Like Me Now?” is the soundtrack to giant-sized toys taking a joyride in a Kia SUV. We’re thinking that licensing a James Brown song was probably too expensive, but the Heavy’s romp was a great substitute.
Artist: Arcade Fire
Context: NFL fan tribute
Why It Was Great: One of the decade’s best songs, paired with glossy, high-def footage of you and me cheering on our favorite NFL teams. Even more of a crowd-pleaser: The band donated the fees they would have collected from the NFL towards Haiti relief.Artists: Jay-Z/Rihanna/E.S. Posthumus
Context: “Run This Town” kickoff to CBS broadcast
Why It Was Great: Just as Jay’s “Empire State of Mind” lit our fires during the 2009 World Series, this slamming orchestral rendition of “Run This Town” couldn’t have been a better pump-up track for the big game.
Artist: The Who
Context: Super Bowl XLIV halftime show
Why It Failed: Sure, the Who must have seemed a perfect fit for the NFL’s older-male demographic, but after seeing all the American-born talent at last weekend’s Grammys, couldn’t CBS have done better than AARP-aged Brits and Union Jack-waving set? Were Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mary J Blige, and Taylor Swift really all busy?
Artist: Cheap Trick
Context: Audi’s “Green Police” ad
Why It Failed: Robin Zander actually re-recorded Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police” for this ad, turning it into “Green Police.” We’re all for recycling, except in this case.