I know that everyone and their dog is reviewing the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl performance but let’s face it, Live Musician Central is the place to get the definitive “musician’s” review. As you know, here at Live Musician Central we don’t just review how the perfomers looked or how well they danced. We review whether or not the performers actually were able to play their music effectively in a live performance.
That being said, the clothes were really cool looking. Fergie looked hot while will.i.am, Taboo and apl.de.ap looked unique each in their own right. Although I have to say that will.i.am’s plastic hair was sort of weird. Oh, and the dancing was lovely, simply lovely.
But did they pull off this live performance? Anytime acts get on a big stage like the Super Bowl the standard procedure used to be lip-syncing the whole thing. Well I have to say that the Black Eyed Peas performance was indeed Live for the most part. When I say “for the most part” I mean that part of the Black Eyed Peas sound is excessive use of Auto-Tune which they use in their live show. There has been a lot of debate about whether Auto-Tune is really live or not. I feel like Auto-Tune used as an obvious vocal effect in a live setting still qualifies it as a live performance.
In that sense the Black Eyed Peas Superbowl halftime performance was indeed live which brings us to the question, did they avoid the usual pitfalls that make a live performance less than spectacular. Let’s start with being able to sing their parts in tune. Well, the boys were using Auto-Tune so that really negates the “singing in tune” question with them. They were perfectly in tune so we can only rate their vocal performance on the basis of “did they sing on the beat”. The boys did sing on the beat which is to be expected of a decent quality rapper and that they are.
As for Fergie, she did not use Auto-Tune and I give her massive credit for that. Being under that kind of time constraint with the pressure of millions of people watching as well as performing new and abbreviated arrangements of their songs makes the fact that Fergie didn’t lip-sync or use Auto-Tune simply excellent by itself. So how did she pull it off Live? Well, I think she did surprisingly well. The sound crew screwed up her microphone and she had no sound for the first couple words of her solo in “I Gotta Feeling” but once they got her vocals turned up she did really well. Only slightly out of tune and and a bit breathless but she was able to settle down and give a good live performance.
Then we have a guest appearance by Usher. Now, I’m an Usher fan but I don’t believe he sang his part live. I’ve never seen anyone able to whip their head around like that while dancing and still sing “just like the record” and that’s exactly what Usher did. So, Usher did not perform his singing live. But to his credit, he’s an excellent dancer!
The guest slot with Slash playing Sweet Child Of Mine was interesting. I bet Slash is sick to death of playing that riff by now. He certainly looked bored to death playing it. When he got to his guitar solo it sounded like he played with a little more fire. It’s too bad the camera panned away from him when he really got to stretch out a little and solo. And yes, Slash pulled it off live.
I really liked the stage lighting and all the dancing going on around the stage. The lighting effects were really interesting to look at and I think they added a lot to the performance.
Finally, I know that the Black Eyed Peas have been getting hammered all over the Internet with people saying that their performance sucked. It looks to me like it’s simply become fashionable to say “Boy, the Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl performance sure did suck!” and naturally all the lemmings out there simply repeat and agree that the performance sucked. Well I don’t think it sucked. I think the Black Eyed Peas did just fine for putting on a 12 minute show. They crammed a lot of things in there and nothing stupid happened during the show (think wardrobe malfunction). They looked good, sounded decent and they played some of their best material. Could it have been better? Sure, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse and the performance wasn’t even close to crappy. The thing is, it was as close to fully live as I think a group like that ever gets and they did it on the biggest stage in the world. I have to give them a lot of credit for that.
If you missed the performance then here’s the video of the entire 12 minutes.
Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl XLV 2011 Halftime Show Video