From Wardrobe Malfunctions to Old White Guys and Back Again

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February 12, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Khalid Bennett

It’s February 1st, 2004.  It’s Super Bowl XXXVIII.  What a classic.  It’s probably one of the best Super Bowls I’ve seen at the time.  Do YOU remember that Super Bowl like I did? Of course, but not for the reason I remember.  Do YOU remember that it was the Carolina Panthers vs. the New England Patriots?  Do YOU remember the crazy fourth quarter in which both teams went back and forth in scoring?  Do YOU remember Adam Vinatieri kicking the game winning field goal after Tom Brady led the final drive?  Do YOU remember it for the Patriots winning two Super Bowls in three years and Tom Brady already being considered as an elite quarterback? Of course I do because I’m a sports fan.  Most of you reading this probably don’t and here’s why.

I bet you remember the halftime show.  You had Hip-Hop stars P. Diddy and Nelly.  You had a rock legend in Kid Rock.  But how could you not remember Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake?  Janet Jackson was making a comeback and was back at the top of the charts, while Justin Timberlake was just starting to soar as a solo artist.  You had two very sexy people doing the last performance before the second half started, everything seemed to be going exceptionally well; then something happens and the whole stadium goes black.  What the hell happened to make the stadium go black?

And that’s where the term “wardrobe malfunction” was born, becoming the most used phrase and the choicest of words in 2004.

Believe it or not, I never saw what really happened.  I remember watching the whole Super Bowl from beginning ’till end and enjoying Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s performance, despite the fact that at that time, I was only interested in Hip-Hop and not too much into R&B and pop music as I am now.  I remember getting up and going away for a minute or so to use the computer.  I turn around back to the TV, but it was when the performance ended because I wanted the football game to resume.  I didn’t know what the hell happened, since this was before texting and social media took over our lives as it does now.  After the game, I watched the postgame shows and highlights and I finally saw what I missed…I could’ve had a chance to see Janet Jackson’s big ol’ titty.  For that whole week and the rest of the month, there were clips and clips and more clips of Justin Timberlake ripping off a piece of Janet Jackson’s clothing and exposing her right breast. I eventually got to see it because of the evolution of the internet but there are probably 144.4 million other people that got to see the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” live.

Ten years later, it’s Super Bowl XLVIII.  But let’s take it back one day before the Super Bowl to February 1st, 2014, where while Watching SportsCenter, they were doing a small piece about the ten year anniversary of the wardrobe malfunction. First of all, I couldn’t believe that it was already ten years since it happened. Second of all, if you think about it, it changed TV and how the FCC controlled the airwaves in the past ten years.  Also, it changed the Super Bowl halftime performances drastically.

For the next few years, millions and millions of people had to endure what was considered “halftime shows”. They had to endure “old white men” performing every year. Okay, there was nothing wrong with the artists that performed; they are considered legendary and the most prolific artists of all time in the music industry.  The problem is that no one wanted to watch these performances. One would assume that the average age of the viewers are in the mid-20s.  They were born after these artists had hit their prime and as much as their music is timeless, it wasn’t popular when most viewers were growing up.  The year after the “wardrobe malfunction” you start off with Paul McCartney from The Beatles because it was a “safe” choice. You didn’t have to worry about young popstars and big breasts showing live on screen, and I’m pretty sure no one wanted to see 62 year old Paul McCartney have any piece of skin exposed.  As years went by, the performances didn’t get any better.  You had the Rolling Stones next and then Prince.  Prince’s performance was considered one of the best but it goes back to the big problem that it wasn’t anyone young or recent in the music industry.  The next three was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and the Who, respectively. Like I said, all of these bands and artists are legends, you just have to think about the audience.  Unless you are really big fans of their music, the average fan probably doesn’t want to hear or see anybody before their generation.

February 6, 2011 finally broke the mold. Super Bowl XLV featured artists that were actually relevant to today’s generation in the music industry. You had the Black Eyed Peas, Usher, and Slash.  Oh no! The Black Eyed Peas have Fergie and Usher will be there.  It’s going to be Janet and Justin Part II.  Believe it or not, nothing controversial happened.  It was clean and fun.  The Black Eyed Peas performed their hits and Usher and Slash did their thing.  Fun fact: according to, the Super Bowl performance was only going to be country music before the Black Eyed Peas agreed to perform.  Thank you Black Eyed Peas for making the halftime show young and relevant again.

The next three Super Bowls continued the trend of Pop music artists that were young and relevant to the music industry.  Super Bowl XLVI had Madonna, LMFAO, M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, and Cee Lo Green.  The performance was pretty weird and I’m not a big fan of any of the aforementioned artists.  Super Bowl XLVII had Beyonce and guest performances from Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.  It was the second most watched Super Bowl performance in history.  One can say that Beyonce exposed more skin and was a little bit more provocative since the “wardrobe malfunction”, but nothing controversial happened during her performance.  This was the start of Beyonce being anointed “Queen of everyone and everything”. This year’s Super Bowl featured Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  They did do a mix of old with new.  Bruno Mars pretty much stole the show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers doing their thing.  I was really impressed by Bruno Mars to the point where I might actually listen to his albums.  He might be considered “pop” but he does a little bit of everything.  He’s very talented and really kept the show going.  Then again, the audience needed something entertaining since the Seattle Seahawks were dominating the Denver Broncos.

Overall, I am satisfied that the Super Bowl halftime shows seem to be going back to having artists relevant to today’s generation.  Who knows how long this will last before they go back to “old white men”?  I’m pretty sure the “wardrobe malfunction” fiasco is over and let’s hope that something like that won’t happen again.  But if it does, I wouldn’t mind for Rihanna to be the next victim.  Yeah, I’m a horrible person.

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