Halftime Show: Imagine Dragons Were Really Bad and Lil’ Wayne Looked Like the Hamburglar

the most ambitious crossover event in history

Last night I issued a challenge to my Twitter followers.

I asked them to rank the following bands from best to worst:

  • Imagine Dragons
  • Nickelback
  • Creed
  • Puddle of Mudd
  • Chumbawamba

Most peopled placed Creed first, I guess because of Mark Tremonti’s guitar playing. Chumbawamba came in second place on average because of their anarchist and punkish/indie past. In hindsight, I could have come up with a worse band. Maybe Hoobastank or Crazy Town.

This exercise in relative futility was inspired by the treat of a halftime performance we received last night from Imagine Dragons and Lil’ Wayne, a performance only slightly less impressive than what Alabama mustered in Santa Clara in a 44-16 loss to Clemson. It was a good night for Joe Giglio and his Tua Tagovailoa take:

Some random thoughts on the halftime train wreck:

  1. I will give Imagine Dragons a lot of credit for not lip-syncing, but the lead singer, Dan Reynolds, had trouble staying on key
  2. Reynolds was wearing some kind of terrible capri pants
  3. the chorus for the “Thunder” song just repeats this over and over: Thunder, feel the thunder, Lightning and the thunder, Thunder, feel the thunder, Lightning and the thunder, Thunder, thunder
  4. Lil’ Wayne was unlistenable
  5. Wayne was wearing some sort of knee-high Ugg-looking boots to go along with an overcoat that looked like a combination of a sherpa blanket, tribal shaman garb, and a Hamburglar top hat
  6. the performance didn’t even take place inside the stadium
  7. the crowd didn’t seem to be super excited
  8. there were barely any shots of the other guys in Imagine Dragons, just Reynolds, who was stage front while the guitar player and bass player were stuck in the back with the drummer, like session musicians

It was pretty bad. “Rock” and pop have been combined with hip hop successfully in the past, stuff like Aerosmith and Run DMC, Anthrax and Public Enemy, even that Method Man and Limp Bizkit jawn from the late 90s, but this crossover felt really forced. You could see Reynolds walk towards the drum kit when Wayne came on the stage. He didn’t seem to be digging it too much. The connection there was akin to Yoko Ono and George Harrison levels of chemistry.

The strange thing to me is that if you listened to any of Imagine Dragons’ early stuff, they were a pretty straightforward neo-dorky rock band, kind of like a less talented version of Franz Ferdinand or The Killers. There was guitar and drum and bass without the over-produced synth sounds you hear in all of their mega-smash radio hits.

As for Wayne, it’s hard to believe that this is the same guy who did “Tha Block is Hot” back in 1999. He was the most successful member of the Cash Money Millionaires, which isn’t saying too much I guess. The B.G. I think ended up in jail, Mannie Fresh and Birdman were pretty bad rappers, and Juvenile sort of just.. I don’t know. What happened to him? The other guy, Turk, had some good verses in some of the group’s songs, but I can’t recall much about his solo career.

Anyway, listen if you must, but be warned:

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14 Responses

    1. I’m a big fan of Imagine Dragons, but I feel like their performance was poo. The integration of Lil Wayne felt seamless and his first song was a perfect choice considering he was allowed to say F–K on air. Lil Wayne looked hot, but I would expect nothing less. It’s genius that the halftime show wasn’t in the stadium.

  1. good assessment….thanks for the clip. Didnt watch halftime, because, well, i hate ID and Lil Wayne is a joke….

  2. I’m not a big fan of Imagine Dragons, but I feel like their performance was fine. The integration of Lil Wayne felt forced and his first song was a bad choice considering he had to edit out F–K like 10 times. Lil Wayne looked ridiculous, but I would expect nothing less. It’s stupid that the halftime show wasn’t in the stadium.

    1. I agree with SOME GUY. I don’t really know Imagine Dragon but the performance was good, a little long but entertaining. I’m also an old white guy and would prefer highlights at halftime.

  3. The Imagine Dragons singer was a little pitchy at times, but the overall performance was fine. The Weezy parts were clearly grafted on, but they did fit. The reason it sounds sub-par is due to the horrible sound mixing. The vocals and sound FX are WAY too hot in relation to everything else. Low ceiling on accompaniment and a high floor on the vocals leads to this mess.

  4. Kev – love your work but stick to sports. I’m a professional singer of 25 years and he really wasn’t that pitchy other than the start of 1 song. Does it sound exactly like the album? No. And that is lost on many folks because so few artists even sing live plus Imagine Dragons use SO much production that it will never sound the same live. But pitch-wise he really wasn’t that “off” at all.

    1. well to me it’s more about how their music sucks, because, like you say, they use so much production

      so if you’re gonna try to sing this stuff live without lip synching, lower the vocals in the mix and bring up the bottom end.. I could barely hear the bass in the mix until the end of the set, and the drums were just as buried as the guitar, which isolated his vocals and made some moments that otherwise would not have been a big deal sound somewhat pitchy

      1. Kev – that was a huge part of the problem…the mix was garbage. The vocal was so exposed. If you isolated the live vocal of even the best singers you’d be amazed at how bad it sounds with the exception of a few total freaks of nature (Sting, Freddie Mercury, etc). Unfortunately you are the mercy of the TV audio crew often times on this and it can totally sink you.

        1. Yep. Makes me wonder why it was so difficult to get it right. It’s not like this was Nashville Pussy live at the North Star Bar. It was Imagine Dragons on a national ESPN broadcast. Infinite money, best equipment, plenty of of time for sound check, so on and so forth

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