Justin Timberlake will take to the stage for the Super Bowl 52 halftime show. It won’t be the pop star’s first halftime performance, and it won’t be Minneapolis’ first either. Back in 1992, the Twin Cities hosted the Super Bowl in the Metrodome, a 37-24 Washington win.
During intermission, we got a distilled cracker jack 1990s winter wonderland capped off by a different pop star who is about as anti-winter as one could possibly be.
An estimated 79,000,000 people watched Super Bowl XXVI. But the show was so uninteresting that 22,000,000 viewers tuned out of it for counterprogramming on FOX. Before we get to that, let’s explain the show at the Metrodome.
It was billed as “Winter Magic”
And it certainly looked magical from the jump.
We’re welcomed by our hosts to “come on and feel the cold” in Minnesota, where “winter’s the hottest time of the year.”
I would like to point out that high temperature on Jan. 26, 1992 was 18 degrees. The shindig was inside, but the city was cold. Still, the organizers played to their strength with the halftime show, that’s for sure.
The song that opens the show is an embarrassingly catchy jingle that begs listeners to “Come feel the cold,” and “see a wonderland of cold.” As I write, I’m sitting in an apartment with near freezing temperatures outside. I already feel the cold, thank you very much.
The halftime show is a month after Christmas, but there was still Christmas music in it for some reason?
The next act of our wintry melodic journey introduces “Winter Wonderland” to the track list. It’s kinda weird and pretty out of place given that it’s a beloved Christmas tune. But the title means it’s a square peg that could easily fit in this jolly round winter hole.
Shoutout to the entire string quartet doing their thing.
As well as the dancers who have changed (notice the awkward snowflake in the background as well):
And then there’s some salsa dancing, because sure.
Next, there’s a brief musical refrain featuring the string band hitting a banger from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite while the program transitions to something totally different.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers marching band provides the soundtrack to a Frosty The Snowman rap performed by children.
Oh yeah, it’s as weird as you think it is, featuring the bar “I’m the fresh prince of the winter chillin’ out and standing tall.”
I am all for giant snowmen on football fields though, so thank you to the folks that put this on for fulfilling that desire. This portion of the proceedings finished with a call and response of “Go Frosty, go Frosty, go,” followed by “Yo Frosty, yo Frosty, yo.”
Just like this year, 1992 had a Winter Olympics coming up after the Super Bowl.
And there was an Olympic shoutout as well.
That included converting one of the snowflake stages into a mini ice rink and having a figure skater do her thing on it.
It’s easily the most impressive part of the whole show. Friends, there was a mini short program on the field during the Super Bowl.
The figure skaters left on snowmobiles, by the way.
And gave way to other skaters. The 1980 U.S. Hockey team was recognized on the field, and during that part of the program, there were rollerblading stunts performed.
And finally, to close things out: Gloria Estefan.
Now Estefan certainly wasn’t a scrub. She’d had two No. 1 hits on the U.S. charts by this time.
Estefan doesn’t exactly fit the winter theme, though. As a native of Havana, Cuba, and a resident of Miami she’s a bit out of her element in a wintry themed halftime show.
But as previously stated, her audience was fractured.
It was an In Living Color special. An exquisite counter program to the Super Bowl.
The story behind it explains something about the NFL’s halftime shows:
Usually, TV stations opt to just figuratively tuck their tail between their legs and accept the fact that the Super Bowl was going to pull in a majority of the ratings that Sunday night. But, In Living Color had other plans. While the halftime show aired, the sketch comedy show on Fox aired their Super Halftime Party episode, which included an on-screen countdown clock to let their viewers know when the game would start back up. In Living Color pulled a staggering 22 million viewers away from CBS’ broadcast of the Super Bowl.
The NFL went back to the drawing board the next year on its halftime show and upped the star power considerably, bringing Michael Jackson to perform at the Rose Bowl. It was a precursor to the massive mid-game concerts we enjoy today.
These days, there isn’t the massive tune out. And 1992 is a big reason why.