A Reminder Of The Greatness Of Britney Spears’ First Super Bowl Halftime Performance

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — There are some reports out there that Britney Spears wants to play the Super Bowl halftime show next year.

This probably shouldn’t happen. But maybe not for the reason you’re thinking.

To many people in 2017, Britney Spears is a thing of the past and thus should not be placed front-and-center with some 100 million people intently tuned in. Certainly, she’s not quite as current as Lady Gaga (2017) or Beyonce (2016) or Katy Perry (2015), etc.

But, no, the reason Spears shouldn’t be next year’s halftime performer is that her place in history is already set as being a part of the single greatest Super Bowl halftime show in history.

The date was Jan. 28, 2001. The game — between the Ravens and Giants — was lousy. Very lousy. The halftime show? It was magnificent.

Blending some of the biggest musical acts with some of the biggest movie stars (all while sponsored by E-Trade!), the entire show serves as a perfect time capsule for life in America at the turn of the century.

Admittedly, I’m personally slightly biased in this opinion. As a 14-year-old at the time of the show who was once given a Britney Spears calendar as a Christmas gift (thanks, mom!) and who dedicated an inordinate portion of my young life watching the very bad show Total Request Live, I was perhaps in the exact target audience for this mishmash of pop culture.

And, because this halftime show A) still exists on the internet and B) has never been given the proper level of spotlight, we’re going to go ahead and provide some running commentary on arguably the greatest achievement of mankind: The Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Show.

(You’ll probably want to open this in another window while scrolling through the commentary.)

:00-:20 — Everything about that intro just screams “Year 2000.” The “cutting-edge” graphics. The weird electronic noise. The E-TRADE SPONSORSHIP!

:20-:30 — The grand entrance of one Mr. Ben Stiller. This wasn’t just any Ben Stiller. This was “still-riding-high-from-There’s Something About Mary” Ben Stiller, “just-starred-in-Meet The Parents” Ben Stiller, and “soon-to-be-starring-in-Zoolander” Ben Stiller. The folks at MTV and E-Trade likely paid a pretty penny to get Stiller to participate in 90 seconds of bad comedy, including the delivery of the line, “OK, that N-Sucked.”

:56 — Adam Sandler, who’s never seen a paycheck he didn’t like, walks onto camera and says, “Yo, NSYNC, you forgettin’ ’bout the streets, yo.” Somehow this didn’t sink his career. Instead, he’s made close to 900 billion dollars since this halftime show. Your guess is as good as mine.

1:20 — Who’s that emerging from the showers? Why, it’s Chris Rock, and he’s here to make fun of white people. Classic Chris Rock. OK, back into the shower he goes. Wait, why’s he going back into the showers?

At this point, it’s important to note that this performance took place before we all spent every waking moment of our lives on the internet. It’s possible that as far as we knew, the halftime show would only feature NSYNC and Aerosmith — which begs the question of why we even remained tuned in through this painful introduction. I guess MTV just had that kind of juice back in the post-Y2K days. Anyway, now that the intro’s over, it’s time to UPGRADE to a higher quality video.

All right. New timestamps. here we go.

:17 — A little snippet of Eminem‘s “The Real Slim Shady.” But wait! He insulted boy bands and Britney Spears and Carson Daly and Fred Durst in that song! Oh, what high jinks to include that clip.

:20-:40 — Having NYSYNC sprint toward the stage while being chased by swarms of young ladies was a nice theatrical touch. Those guys were larger than life (all due respect to the Backstreet Boys). But uhh …

:40-1:48 — What uhh … what were these fellas doing? I don’t know a whole lot about dancing. But I do know this probably wouldn’t qualify as being watchable television for the 18-to-35 demographic.

1:55 — Aerosmith saunters onto the stage for a dramatic performance of “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” Oh wait, it’s not Aerosmith; it’s just Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Well at least the other three guys got to partake in that introduction with Ben Stiller. That was nice.

2:41-2:42 — Oh, there’s the rest of the band. I hope the Kramer, Hamilton and Whitford families didn’t blink!

2:42-3:14 — Tyler was 52 years old at the time. I’m not sure anyone’s instrument is actually hooked up to anything. Aerosmith becoming a full-on pop band in the late ’90s still makes no sense. Why are they playing a love ballad from a cheesy movie that’s more than two years old at this point during the Super Bowl halftime show? Why am I still watching? These are the things one can ponder in a very short period of time as this song drags on.

3:15 — Did … did Chris Kirkpatrick and J.C. Chasez just shoot fire out of their hands?

3:22 — I believe Lance Bass and Joey Fatone just shot fire out of their hands.

3:28 — OH MY GOD JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE HAS SHOT SOME FIRE OUT OF HIS HANDS. Did not see that coming.

3:51 — Uhh … first of all … you two maybe need to get yourselves in order better.

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Fans at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2001 (YouTube)

But … uhh … again … Steven Tyler was 52 years old. And you know all those signs are planted by the event organizers. So did a grown man write that on a posterboard … knowing he’d be giving it to some teenage girl?

I’m uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable.

4:36 — Oh, SNAP! Old Man Tyler just stole Timberlake’s line! And now they’re … performing “Jaded.” Only for …

5:55 — … Timberlake to steal Tyler’s line! Bamboozled!

(This halftime show is so much worse than I remembered.)

(I regret the decision to watch this.)

(I’m embarrassed to have existed during this.)

(I need a savior.)

6:02 — Joey Fatone yelling “What’s up Tampa? You ready to rock?” does nothing to limit the shame of watching this footage.

6:05 — OK, I guess we’re going “Walk This Way.” Song is 25 years old but OK. At least it’ll get the people moving. More than “Jaded.”

6:46 — WHOA! It’s Britney Spears! Where’d she come from?

6:48 — OH MY GOODNESS.

6:50 — WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

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Britney Spears(Photo by Brian Bahr/Allsport/Newsmakers)

(What happened was a generation of young MTV viewers deciding in one moment that they had just witnessed the single greatest Super Bowl moment of all time. Those boys became men that night.)

7:07 — Mary J. Blige is here now? To sing as part of a chorus? And not even get so much as a single line to sing on her own? Cool, I guess. Seems like she’s having fun anyway.

7:25 — Anyone who believes in true love might want to look away as JT and Britney walk side-by-side up the catwalk (and Chris Kirkpatrick also makes the trip and gets to sing for some reason).

Timberlake and Britney were dating and were going to become the world’s greatest power couple. Timberlake would go on to become an all-time superstar. Spears went on to marry Kevin Federline and eventually ending up in rehab.

She has, of course, rebounded nicely with a second life to her career and a Las Vegas residency. But oh, what could have been …

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Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears (Photo byDoug Pensinger/ALLSPORT)

(Maybe she left him because of those jeans.)

8:00-8:08 — A little lick from Perry and this thing is wrapping up, right? WRONG!

8:09 — Nelly EXPLODES onto the scene wearing a split Giants-Ravens jersey and if you can watch this entrance in 2017 without bursting out laughing then something is wrong with you.

8:09-9:09 — Nelly performs a half of a verse of the track “E.I.” which is probably the exact amount of Nelly you want in your halftime show. He’s also wearing a jersey with the nameplate “I WAS THERE.” I bet he could sell that thing for a million dollars.

Anyway, the gang wraps it all up, the fireworks go off, and that’s that. It’s over. The single greatest halftime show in Super Bowl history*** is a wrap.

gettyimages 22806502 A Reminder Of The Greatness Of Britney Spears First Super Bowl Halftime Performance

Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Britney Spears (Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images)

***Well, you know, maybe this performance has not aged well and maybe it’s actually REALLY REALLY bad. Maybe Britney — who’s almost right at the midway mark of her age during that performance and Steven Tyler’s age during that performance — should get another kick at the can for the halftime show. Maybe she can create another unforgettable moment for the next generation of youths — those whippersnappers with their Game Boy Colors and their Sony Walkmans could learn a thing or two from Ms. Spears.

Regardless, at least we all got to briefly relive the glory of the early 2000s for a few minutes here in 2017. Let’s agree to not do that again for another 15 years or so. The embarrassment should wear off by then.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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