A look back at Super Bowl halftime shows

The grumbling non-sports fans saving grace has always been the glitz, the glamour and possibly the scandal surrounding the Super Bowl halftime show. Among the impressive commercials and sometimes-inspiring renditions of the national anthem, this year’s show always promises better than the year before.

This Sunday in Tampa, Fla., the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals will play as long as most Academy Award ceremonies go to secure the glory of the 2009 football season.

Since its birth in 1967, the halftime show has adapted to popular culture accordingly, moving from flashy marching bands to Motown to Mardi Gras to New Kids on the Block. From a purely-entertainment, celebrity-obsessed reporter’s opinion, a few of the most memorable in the last 42 years:

January 15, 1967 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers In the Middle: University of Arizona and Michigan marching bands. Perhaps there was a Super Bowl of its own between national college marching bands that year, as obviously the Arizona and Michigan marching bands are not local to Kansas City, Green Bay or the stadium where the game was played. The mystery of this union is still an open case. Either way, pretty traditional. A fun, classic American past time to get the bowl rolling.

January 16, 1972 Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins In the Middle: Carol Channing Theme: Mardi Gras An icon in her time, Channing, an Oscar-nominee as well as three-time Tony-winner, starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 20 years prior to her Super Bowl performance and established her place as an American icon. At the tail end of the Vietnam War she was probably picked for her persona as an American sweetheart or pretty lady, but came first in the long line of entertainers to come.

January 9, 1977 Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings In the Middle: L.A. Unified All-City Band and Crowd Participation Now this seems pretty cool. What better way to unite a crowd than have a sing-a-long? The magnitude of thousands of people singing must have been pretty trippy, as much of the ’70s would prove to be, but an innovative idea for a halftime show nonetheless.

January 27, 1991 Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants In the Middle: NKOTB Ah, finally a halftime show the present generation can remember sinking their cute 12-year-old teeth into. New Kids on the Block was experiencing a Beatle-mania of their own during this time and the producers gave those pop music junkies their much-needed fix of boys with bad haircuts in suits. Little did the dads of those little girls know that a mere 15 years later those boys would turn into chubby, middle-aged, married men in suits still singing about fun in the sun with ‘tweens.

January 31, 1993 Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys In the Middle: Michael Jackson with 3,500 local children Theme: Heal the World The obvious retrospective jokes about this halftime show will be left out of this timeline because Michael Jackson was a dancing-messiah, the likes of which has never been seen. After the Gulf War and to help charity efforts, Jackson healed the world, if only for an instant, in a family-friendly way with a giant globe in the center of the football stadium. A fun idea and still an optimistic world view with a giant budget in giant proportions.

January 25, 1998 Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos In the Middle: BoyzIIMen, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Queen Latifah. What a sexy bowl. This performance was a salute to Motown’s 40th anniversary and it was too bad that Bobby Brown and his prerogative couldn’t have taken part in this salute to seduction. Also marking the introduction of rap music into halftime history. No Aerosmith, you don’t count as rap.

February 1, 2004 Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots In the Middle: Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Nelly Who even remembers that P.Diddy or Nelly were there? Surely not America. The FCC and parents of young children everywhere revolted by boycotting the Super Bowl for a full year. Backlash toward the two stars, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, was the best publicity that not even money can buy and a new buzzword entered the nation’s psyche: wardrobe malfunction. Now a phrase so clich’eacute; that it makes the humblest English 112 professor shudder at its utterance. And we got to see some partial nudity on network television. As awesomeness goes, it was pretty tit for tat.

This year Max Weinberg will leave his post on the Conan O’Brien show to join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I forget if he or John Mellencamp are supposed to be the “everyman” for America, but if Springsteen isn’t considered that, he should and will be from now on. With Democrats still licking the sweet taste of victory off of their fingers, Springsteen will bring it as the ultimate inoffensive all-American.