"America the Beautiful," sure ... the national anthem, not so much

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The National Anthem, as pole-axed by Xtina: At least Christina Aguilera looked dignified in a black outfit, in contrast to the dressed-down pole-dancer look she favors in concert and video. On the first line, she transformed the word "night" into about seven syllables. Comparatively, the restraint of "Glee" actress Lea Michele on "America the Beautiful" played like a small triumph. As a sidenote, when will the Super Bowl wake up and hire someone like Jim Cornelison, the Chicago Blackhawks secret weapon, to deliver the goose-bumps on these songs? Instead we cringe in embarrassment at overblown celebrities trying to remember their lines. christina aguilera
A few notes from tailgate central, the series of nationally televised pre-game concerts outside Cowboys Stadium:

Maroon 5: Adam Levine’s voice is high and feminine, yet his tattooed left arm looks like it belongs to a guitarist in Slayer -- the things you notice when you’re bored with a song that sounds like a tiki-lounge parody. The quintet soldiers through a version of “Misery,” its sunny Caribbean vibe at odds with Levine’s determination to “get you back.” Later Levine promises, “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” with cool efficiency. The band delivers hooks, but sounds starved of passion, point of view, personality. Is this what happens to bands once they’ve been chasing clean, sterile, instant-singalong radio hits long enough?

Keith Urban: Mr. Nicole Kidman is a New Zealand native who grew up in Australia, has the rugged, stubble-chinned profile of a Hollywood star, and sings like he was born outside Nashville next to a whiskey distillery. His third-hand honky-tonk defines the new root-less country sound. It’s a little bit of twang and a barely audible banjo or mandolin thrown in for a touch of Southern credibility, but mostly it’s about crunchy guitars and the Bon Jovi credo of “don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” So his “You Gonna Fly” sounds like a dozen mild Poco or Eagles country-rockers you might’ve heard on the radio in the ‘70s. Choosing to perform the song “Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me” was a slghtly bolder touch. Urban whooped it up -- "We're at the Super Bowl, baby!" -- as if to claim a football game is a panacea for our national economic crisis.christina aguilera

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