Why are Superbowl Halftime Costumes SO Bad?


Even as a child, I never wanted to be a pop star. For one, I had terrible stage fright. (And I couldn’t actually sing.) But mostly, I never connected with the rockstar “look.”

Like it or not, the overwhelming majority of pop stars are incredibly unsophisticated when it comes to their clothes. There’s no cleverness in the costumes. It’s all boobs, butt, boots and big hair — and as far as I’m concerned, only Dolly Parton can pull that combo off.

Nowhere is this more evident than the Superbowl halftime show. Let’s look at last night’s performance for a prime example:

Not hot.
Not hot.

The performance itself was great. Katy pulled out all the stops, including multiple outfit changes. Thank heavens Katy has the singing chops, because the costumes were the sartorial equivalent of a bowl of Froot Loops.

First came the cheesy flame-crusted mini-dress, which reminded me of those magnetic decals favored by aging Harley riders. The rest of the wardrobe wasn’t much better — especially this next dress, patterned after a beach ball. (I imagine Vanna White wears something similar whenever she co-hosts Wheel of Fortune at SeaWorld.)

At least the sharks look cute.
At least the sharks look cute.

But as unsavory as I found Katy’s sartorial choices, I’ll give her points for being creative and colorful — which is more than I can say for her Superbowl predecessors.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Leather gladiator seems o be a theme.
What Russell Crowe wore when he needed to make an impression in the gladiator arena.

In 2013, Beyonce took the stage in a leather bustier bodysuit, fishnets and knee-high boots. It’s an outfit with zero ulterior motives or nuance. It exists only to show off the maximum amount of skin without risking an FCC fine.

In addition to this being completely uncreative, it’s also unoriginal. Let’s not forget that almost every female performer in recent Superbowl history has worn some version of this all-black ensemble.

Leather Gladiator, Part 1.
Leather Gladiator, Part 1.

In 2012, Madonna wore a slight variation of the leather uniform. But the details remain the same — the boots, the fishnets, the fingerless gloves. Madonna’s pleated skirt may appear more demure than Beyonce’s unitard, but no worries — Madonna made sure to do a spread eagle to declare herself the yummiest mummy of them all.

This unintended uniformity is far from an isolated incident. Here’s Fergie’s 2011 Superbowl costume:

Gladiator fights pigskin -- only one can survive.
Gladiator fights pigskin — only one can survive.

Again, we see the unholy trinity of biker bustier, fishnets and knee-high boots. But in this incarnation, everything’s been morphed to resemble a football uniform, including the spangled shoulder pads and boot laces designed to look like a pigskin.

Of course, it would be a serious omission to ignore the pioneer of this look.

This is just getting old.
This is just getting old.

Look, the costume was a disaster for Janet back in 2004, and I’m bewildered as to why so many pop stars continue to beat this funereal drum.

So, my congratulations to Katy for breaking free of her predecessors’ shackles. She may look like an anime character — but at least she’s not headed to a dominatrix’s funeral.