Story by Bertha Bush
When you’re an artist, you are subject to many people’s opinions of your work. When you are confronted on a tough decision on whether or not to take a gig, the answer is not as simple as yes or no. Even if it is the Super Bowl.
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers were asked by the NFL and Bruno Mars to perform their song “Give It Away,” there was hesitation on accepting. Their stance on any sort of miming has been that they will absolutely not do it.
The last time they tried was in the late 80s when they were thrown off “The Top Of the Pops” television program in the United Kingdom because they refused to mime properly.
So why then would a well-known band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers accept a gig that would possibly discredit them as musicians?
There are several factors that determine a band’s credibility: musicianship, consistency and longevity, to name a few.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are known for their live performances characterized by their improvisational nature, which factors into their reputation as artists.
The fans expect that a performer will stay true and consistent to their act. If they were to be known for studio recording pieces, then critics might have been more inclined to understand why they performed with pre-recorded tracks at the Super Bowl.
A die-hard fan knows every lyric and composition behind their music. They have followed the band throughout the years and become familiar with their musical image, recognizing their talent.
“The NFL made them do it unplugged. They still played every single note regardless. I think it’s okay given the circumstances,” said Jesus Iñiguez, Spanish and integrated community service senior at Morningside College. The assurance of a band’s credibility lies within its faithful fans, which they depend on for success.
Another music lover sides with the band’s experience, but criticizes their credibility after a mimed performance.
“Personally [it] did discredit their musicianship as performers but not their authorship as artists. Because they are so well established, it doesn’t take away from the music they have made.” said Masha Kovtunova, film student at California College of the Arts.
What could have factored in to the NFL’s request that the RHCP perform unplugged?
It was discovered that there were indeed some very important reasons why the NFL requested they do a mimed performance
Bands perform unplugged to avoid potential audio mishaps. Time is also an issue. The halftime show has a set time frame that performers need to follow to help the rest of the Super Bowl run smoothly.
The artists who accept the gig have no control of the time. They simply have to make sacrifices to their act to make sure the main event, the Super Bowl, is successful. Should they then have sacrificed their act or should they have stood firm on not miming their show?
“I would tell (the NFL) they’re on my time if I was the performer so I could perform my genuine performance that the audience is expecting”, said Naomi Nothdurft, senior at the University of Iowa.
Even with their longstanding success as proof of their musicianship, there are some that absolutely oppose to essentially faking a performance, no matter who the artist is.
“Bands who have pre-recorded tracks when they are apparently performing ‘live’ is a joke and hypocritical. If someone is a true musician, they will perform live every time just like jazzers in NYC who have gig every night. What’s the point of seeing a band that claims to be performing live if they really aren’t?” Nothdurft said.