Super Bowl XLIV: Classical 3, Pop 0

If you had power or were able to get somewhere that did yesterday, you may have noticed that the telecast of Super Bowl XLIV, taken as a whole, argued strongly for the superiority of classical to pop music. In favor of the classics, you had:

  1. The Rutgers Symphony Orchestra greatly improving Jay-Z and Rihanna’s “Run This Town,” the background of which is detailed here.  (Hat tip for that article to Molly Sheridan.)
  2. Hyundai, having read my Grab Bag from December (maybe), leveraged the classix in two ads for its Sonata mid-size sedan. First, Mozart touts the paint job, and then Wolfie returns Beethoven rolls up to show just how classy in general the Sonata is. (At least I think that’s Mozart returning. I feel like a moron for not being able to name this piece, which I recognize. Such is the way of the world. It’s the first Beethoven piano trio, duh.) While these are not the most transgressive or joyous uses of classical music in the world, the first one in particular at least asserts classical music’s primacy as timeless art. (Okay, so the music in the second just wallpapers the narration, and it’s not even a sonata. One out of two isn’t terrible!)
  3. Also I forgot earlier (and am thus adding now in a face-saving edit) the Coke commercial featuring “Bolero.” The commercial is pretty dumb, but “Bolero” comes off well. Thanks to the Twittering of Mike Nelson for this addition and the edit above. Nelson’s Twitter name, “Kickassical,” should win major international competitions for Twitter names.

Meanwhile, the show’s main non-Jay exponents of pop music, the Who, laid a giant turd during the halftime show, with off-pitch singing and bizarre repertoire selection. (One of my Facebook friends noted, “Who opens with Pinball Wizard…”; another opined, “Again, good call with the halftime show, NFL. 60% of viewers just said simultaneously, ‘What’s pinball?'”) On the other hand, they had a cool stage with circles and lighting and effects. (It would be awesome to watch a performance of “The Planets” or something else big and orchestrally colorful on such a stage.)

So on television’s biggest stage, classical music ran up the score on pop (unlike at the Grammys, or on SoundScan). It’s a start. WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!

Edited about an hour after posting as noted above.

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