Kickoff to Super Bowl XLIV is now just a few breathless second away . . . and I'm already drool-cup bored with the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Sure, I might have a friendly wager on the Crescent City crew (+5.5, if you know what I mean). But after two weeks of Big Game buildup, I'm done chattering about X's, O's and the healing power of Breesus.
So let's talk music instead.
Pop critics tend to filter most debates through our record collections. Give us a sporting match or a political race, and we'll use music as the deciding factor. Obama vs. McCain? Obama, by a hair — but only because we dig Chicago's Wilco slightly more than Arizona's Alice Cooper. Suspect reasoning? Absolutely. But that's why we're music critics and not Wolf Blitzer. So in keeping with this year's Super Bowl adversaries, I ask you this: Which state has the richer musical legacy, Indiana or Louisiana? Not so fast. Although New Orleans is the birthplace of popular music, Indiana gave us the Jackson 5. Louis Armstrong vs. the King of Pop? Hmmm. We're going to have to break this down a bit. Herewith, the rosters of the inaugural Music Super Bowl . . . plus an ultimate winner.
DE Louis Armstrong Call him "Pops," call him "Satchmo," call the ample-cheeked trumpeter one of the most influential artists of all time. Don't forget the beloved jazzman's gravelly voice, which helped make this a wonderful world indeed.
DT Louis Prima The King of Swing, baby! Jump Jive an' Wail, I Wanna Be Like You, Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody. Not sure if Louis can play football, but he'd sure be a heck of a lot of fun at the postgame after-parties.
LB Mahalia Jackson The Queen of Gospel — Aretha before Aretha — had God on her side and great licks of fire in her voice. She'll play in the Music Bowl — and sing the national anthem.
DB Hank Williams Jr. Bocephus! "All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight!" Forget Howard Cosell, Al Michaels or Mike Tirico: Hank Jr. is the real voice of Monday Night Football.
DB Lil Wayne Weezy is the top tough in rap — and also one of the most incarcerated, as he's about to hit to the clink. But give the Nawlins native credit: At a time when album sales are in the toilet, he sold 1 million copies of his last album. In one week.
On the bench: Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Master P, Tim McGraw
QB John Mellencamp Nicknamed "Little Bastard," the Hoosier State's chain-smoking native son has the hits and anger issues to lead the pack. Are YOU going to take the ball from him?
WR Michael Jackson The prettiest, most incandescent player in the Music Bowl. Score a touchdown? Psh. How 'bout moonwalk a touchdown? Hee!
WR Axl Rose Scrappy, surly, prone to biting, he's a cross between the Patriots' Wes Welker and a psychotic leprechaun. Indiana produced two of rock's top frontmen. The other is at running back.
RB David Lee Roth Diamond Dave, the mouthpiece for Van Halen, is the trash-talk king. You wouldn't want to play against DLR . . . or sit next to him on a plane . . . or have him date your sister. But sing Jump? You bet.
C Tito Jackson Think of Tito, the cherubic anchor of the Jackson 5, as the William "Refrigerator" Perry of this Indiana team. He's willing to block . . . and sing backup on I'll Be There.
On the bench: Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Janet Jackson, John Hiatt, Izzy Stradlin, Shannon "Blind Melon" Hoon
That's some serious talent on both sides. We can only hope the actual Super Bowl is this close. (I'm liking my +5.5 even more now, if you know what I mean.) In the end, though, you have to acknowledge the progenitors over the pop heavyweights. In other words, no one beats Louis Armstrong. Louisiana over Indiana in a last-second encore of When the Saints Go Marching In.