By the way: There are 35 bowls in the college football landscape, and January 1 is no longer the most important day of bowl season — the better bowls continue into the next week. The big bowls don’t even consistently fall on the same days anymore, for reasons that will be boring and not germane to this. What is germane to this: This year, we have the Orange Bowl as the final game of New Year’s Day, which means the super-long halftime show (once astutely mocked by the Simpsons, once inadvertently mocked by Ashlee Simpson’s performance) is returned to its rightful place of entertaining families numb from the day-long football marathon.
But, because ESPN is airing the Orange Bowl, it’s no longer quite the horriblawesome convergence of art and sport that it tried to be during its bygone-era airings on NBC, including a magic show gone awry, the Disney Electrical Parade inside a stadium (where it was never meant to be), and the most uncomfortable ZZ Top may have ever been.
Well, at least it’s no longer that for TV viewers. I’m sure that people inside the stadium were exposed to the full onslaught of pointless backing dancers and superfluous laser displayes. But those of us in TV land only saw three minutes of Jake Owen — one of those performances which look potentially parodic, but dishearteningly reveals itself to be real via the sort of earnest delivery that says, “We’re making art here — it might be bad art, but it’s art.”
America got to witness “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which, according to this article, confirms that the chorus forwards the sentiment, “Never gonna grow up! Never gonna slow down!” — with verses that detail hanging out and drinking beers by the fire, to which Owen added Orange Bowl-specific lyrics about hanging out about the Orange Bowl.
(Sample, non-Orange Bowl referencing lyrics: “Blue eyes and auburn hair/Sittin’ lookin’ pretty by the fire in a lawn chair/New to town, and new to me/Her ruby red lips was sippin’ on sweet tea.” Lyrical analysis: Jake Owen admires women at parties with the limited vocabulary of many of his fans. Auburn hair is fairly exacting, though, so points for that.)
Though I’d rather see wind-blown magic or crotch-centric performances from the likes of The Boss and The Purple One’s Super Bowl extravaganzas when I’m witnessing halftime entertainment, it’s nice to see that there’s some level of pomp in the Orange Bowl shows — Owen did plenty of good-looking country-singer flexing to augment what the drill team armada in front of the stage was doing. (And a quick note on his band: Banjo player. Always awesome.)