Though it ranks far below a question such as how Rex Grossman will perform
in the clinch, plenty of Bears fans are wondering about the musical
components during the big game on Sunday -- if only to strategically
coordinate their snack and beer runs.
It's a safe bet that the ever-hammy Billy Joel will try to wring every
tear out of his rendition of the National Anthem at the start of Super Bowl
XLI. But in keeping with tradition when it comes to the much-hyped halftime
show, the NFL and the Fox network are tight-lipped about what we can expect
from the performance by Prince.
The one thing that has leaked out is that the Paisley Wonder will be
accompanied for part of the show by the Florida A&M University Marching 100,
who also scored a sweet gig in 2006 when they backed Kanye West and Jamie
Foxx at the Grammys.
Throughout Prince's long and accomplished career, the one constant has
been his unpredictability. Minneapolis' favorite son has embraced myriad
musical styles -- from R&B and funk to rap, acid rock and easy-listening
jazz -- and he has offered soulful prayers to the Creator (he is now a
devout Jehovah's Witness) as often as he has cooed near-pornographic lyrics.
It's been a long time since Prince infamously bared his butt cheeks
during a live television appearance, and even longer -- 23 years, to be
exact -- since his song "Darling Nikki" scandalized "Washington wife" Tipper
Gore, prompting her to launch the Parents Music Resource Center crusade
against lascivious rock lyrics.
You'd think Super Bowl organizers would shy away from any musician with
that kind of resume, since they are still reeling from the FCC crackdown
that followed Nipplegate -- the two-second glimpse of Janet Jackson's right
breast during an alleged "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004 -- and the bad
publicity prompted by the more minor tempest in a Jack Daniel's bottle when
some of the Rolling Stones' sexually suggestive lyrics were bleeped or
altered during last year's halftime extravaganza.
But at age 48, today's Prince is a different artist from the one who gave
us albums like "Dirty Mind" and "Controversy" in the early '80s:
• After years of steadfastly following his own muse on the periphery of
the mainstream music industry, the singer returned to the arena circuit in
2004 with a much-publicized, G-rated greatest-hits tour.
• Just weeks ago he won a Golden Globe for an innocuous ditty called
"Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet," the animated kids' movie about a
• And like Celine Dion and Elton John before him, he has recently
settled in at that new capital of family entertainment, Las Vegas,
performing a "multimonth limited engagement" at the Rio Hotel & Casino.
In other words, the Prince we'll hear and see on Sunday is almost certain
to be fit for family viewing.
The coolest thing he could do would be to pay homage to one of his idols,
James Brown, who died on Christmas Day. But given the pressures from Super
Bowl organizers and the FCC and the irresistible opportunity to boost sales
of his catalog albums and Vegas concert tickets, we're more likely to get
one of those unsatisfying medleys of his tamer greatest hits: "Let's Go
Crazy," "Purple Rain," "When Doves Cry" and "Little Red Corvette."
Just don't hold your breath waiting to hear "Horny Toad," "Erotic City"