But how do you measure washed-up? We think we know it when we see it (Flavor Flav - yes; Beastie Boys - No), but do we ? (Dave Matthews - hmmmm...)
Could a contrived statistic help? Does it ever not?
Here's a look at the last 13 Super Bowl acts, with two vital numbers: At the time of their Super Bowl show, how many years it had been since
- Their first hit
- Their last hit
By that measure, Madonna - with at least one hit in the 10 years prior to going on stage last night - is wildly, scorchingly hip compared to her fellow Super Bowl Halftimers.
Madonna, I'm sure, does not fancy herself as "history." And, compared to her fellow headliners, she isn't.
Of course, Madonna isn't actually relevant or anything. It's just that starting in 2000, Super Bowl halftime acts have been absolutely unbelievably, well... Old.
The Super Bowl Wash-Up Chart
|Year||Act||Yrs since debut||Yrs since Top 10 Hit||First Hit||Song||Last Hit||Song|
|2011||Black Eyed Peas|
|2010||The Who||45||28||1965||I can't explain||1982||You better you bet|
|2009||Bruce Springsteen||34||17||1975||Born to Run||1992||Better Days (1994 for Streets of Phila)|
|2008||Tom Petty||31||17||1977||Refuge||1991||Into the Great Wide Open|
|2007||Prince||28||13||1979||Wanna be your lover||1994||Most Beautiful girl in the world|
|2006||Rolling Stone||43||17||1963||Come On||1991||Mixed Emotion|
|2005||Paul McCartney||42||20||1963||She Loves You||1985||Spies like us|
|2004||Janet||18||3||1986||What/ For Me Lately||2001||Someone to call my own|
|2003||Sting (Shania Twain)||25||9||1978||Roxanne||1994||When We Dance|
|2001||N'Sync, Britney, Aerosmith, Nelly|
|2000||Phil Collins||22||10||1978||Follow You, Follow Me||1990||Do You Remember|
We can pardon the Who, who had the good graces to actually break up 28 years before cashing their 2010 Super Bowl check. No shame there.
But among the barely-active acts, who was the Most Washed Up Super Bowl Act Ever?
Turns out, the most infamous (Janet Jackson) and the most infamously self-promoting (Madonna) were probably the least-Washed Up. Just three years of career silence separated the pop charts from the desperate cry for help we all didn’t actually notice live at the Super Bowl for Ms. Jackson (I’m allowed to call her that because I’m nasty).
And Madonna, with 12 more years of actual career behind her than Janet, was all but in her prime last night, just 7 years after Hung Up (great song, by the way, almost definitely my favorite of hers. It’s that or Ray of Light or, if a torch song is needed, Take A Bow).At mid-table is: Phil Collins, who launched the Washed Up Era in 2000, 10 years after his last hit ("Do You Remember" "now that it's ohhh-ver" Irony!); Sting, who delighted everyone with the theme "Seriously- Stop Looking at Shania, Old Man. It's Just Gross"; and Prince, who 13 years after departing the Hot 100 Charts with "Most Beautiful Girl in the World", blew past Sting on the Creepy Old Guy Chart by making us all picture people as old as Prince doing it.
Now the Heavy Weights.
Based entirely on the numbers, The Most Washed Up Super Bowl Act is really a two-horse race: the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney, with nobody else in the running. McCartney's last "hit" prior to his 2005 show was the silly movie-song, "Spies Like Us" (still catchy, tho). An honest man would say you need to go back a year earlier to "No More Lonely Nights" (though if that string was 'the end' of his career, he ended with a bang: In the space of 3 years he cranked out Spies, Nights, "Say Say Say", "Pipes of Peace", "The Girl is Mine" and "Ebony and Ivory" - all Top 10 hits - plus the wildly underrated "Take It Away". Of course, he's Paul Friggin McCartney).
|1999||Estafan, Stevie Wonder|
|1998||Boys II Men, Smokey Rob, Temptations|
|1997||ZZ Top, Blues Bros, James Brown, Catherine Crier|
|1995||Gloria Estafan and a bunch of others|
|1994 (my favorite)||Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Judds|
|1991||New Kids on the Block|
|1990||Nichols State band….|