Prince to perform at Super Bowl halftime show
BY JORDAN LEVIN
Sun, Dec. 10, 2006
Sports fans will get some funk with their football when groundbreaking star Prince plays the Super Bowl XLI halftime show on Feb. 4 at Dolphin Stadium, the NFL announced Sunday.
With the sometimes salacious Purple Rain-maker, the NFL moves into a slightly riskier zone than with the acts who have starred in sports' biggest entertainment event since the infamous 2004 show, when Janet Jackson's breast-baring ''wardrobe malfunction'' ignited a national controversy and earned CBS a $550,000 fine from the FCC. (The network is challenging the fine in court -- and MTV hasn't been invited back to produce another show).
Since then the NFL and CBS have put on safe-seeming artists from decades past. But critics groaned at ex-Beatle Paul McCartney's out of touch tunes in 2005, and at the Rolling Stones' elderly antics in 2006. That show had its own mini-uproar, as the Stones complained that a still-leery CBS censored them by turning down Mick Jagger's microphone for risqué lines in songs like Start Me Up.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said they were confident that Prince would appeal to the millions who tune into America's top-rated television show without creating a stir -- even though one of the Minneapolis artist's classic songs is called Controversy. ''He's an electric performer whose body of work has appealed to a wide diverse audience over the years,'' McCarthy said Friday. ``We've had discussions with Prince and his management, and they understand the spotlight that performing on the world's largest stage provides. We recognize that we are held to a higher standard in everything we do and we want to put on a show that is suitable for a mass audience.''
Over the years the Super Bowl half-time show has featured everyone from classic soul acts to current pop stars, from Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder to Mary J. Blige and No Doubt. Gloria Estefan has appeared twice, most recently in 1999, the Super Bowl's last time in Miami, along with Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and tap dancer Savion Glover.
Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, who played Super Bowl XXIX in 1995 with The Miami Sound Machine, Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett, says it was hugely exciting.''A Latino person playing in a Super Bowl halftime, it's such an honor because it's such an American event,'' he said.
The Super Bowl announcement caps a triumphant comeback for Prince, whose '90s defiance of the mainstream music industry almost cast the superstar into obscurity. It's been a good week for the musical and Internet pioneer: On Thursday, the Recording Academy announced that his '06 release 3121 had earned Prince five Grammy nominations.
Best known for his hits in the 1980s and early '90s, including 1999 and Kiss, Prince should get some welcome attention playing the Super Bowl, which was viewed by 141 million people last year. The 41st edition of the game will be broadcast to 230 countries worldwide.
The diminutive, dandified artist is known for his creativity and eccentricity. His powerful, original combination of funk and rock, and his provocative stage persona, made him a cult figure in the late '70s. He became a superstar in 1984 with the smash hit Purple Rain. His career has zigzagged since then, with critical and commercial hits like 1991's Diamonds and Pearls as well as sprawling experiments like 1996's Emancipation.