Axl Rose weighs in on Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'karaoke' Super Bowl performance
For reasons that are unclear, Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose has decided to weigh in on Peppergate, as I’m now calling it, which is better known as the mini-scandal that has erupted since it was revealed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were not playing live during their guest appearance with Bruno Mars during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday. In fact, their instruments weren’t even plugged in.
In a guest post to The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard posted Tuesday (4) night, Rose sarcastically posited that maybe they were playing wirelessly, and that maybe, “in the name of science and for all mankind Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier.”
And even if they weren’t playing, there was still a bright side (Rose wrote his letter before RCHP’s bassist Flea’s explanation as to why they sang live to a pre-recorded music track) was widely circulated), according to Rose: “If the band wasn't really playing or wireless or whatever and Anthony [Kiedis] was really singing they may have set a new world record for the largest karaoke audience ever! Awesome!”
He ends on a very clever note: “God Bless America, the Peppers n' technology... PN’T!”
Maybe he's just mad at RHCP for showing up for their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Both the Peppers and Guns N' Roses were inducted in 2012, and, as you may recall, Rose was a no show.
Below is Rose’s missive in full. Here is also a link to Flea’s explanation, which I found very refreshing. Without getting defensive, he laid out the band’s thinking behind their decision. And I begrudgingly give them credit that they didn’t plug in and fake it. They had to know that someone, the someone in this case being Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, was going to notice they weren’t plugged in. As they say, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up, and Flea immediately came clean.
Here’s the thing about the faux controversy: the NFL is actually pretty transparent about the fact that they prefer that acts play to track or even lip sync, especially when the show is in an open-air stadium, as Sunday’s game was. There are too many variables that can go wrong, especially with rain and wind. It’s true for the National Anthem, which is always pre-taped just in case there are issues and the singer can’t sing it live (we discovered that in the Whiteny Houston/National Anthem controversy in 1992).
With the halftime show, the margin for error is even higher: They have six minutes to move the stage onto the field and set everything up, roughly 12 minutes to do the halftime performance, and six minutes to get that massive stage back off the field and start the second half. I remember interviewing the halftime producer the year Prince performed and the only thing the NFL really cares about is that they do not hurt the field in any way. Yes, they want the halftime show to be entertaining and to keep people from flipping channels (and the NFL certainly got its wish this year with a record 115 million tuning in to a lop-sided game), but above all, the mantra is to do no harm to the field.
Clearly, the pressure is now on Bruno Mars to come forth and say if his band was playing to pre-recorded tracks —an issue that Flea didn’t address in his statement. Mars was singing live, just as Kiedis was.
Does it matter if the band wasn’t playing live? Should the NFL run a disclaimer during the Super Bowl declaring that some tracks are pre-recorded live during future halftime shows?
What do you think?
Axl Rose's commentary: