By Tyler Gilliam

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was perhaps the most surprising Super Bowl in history. Well, maybe not as surprising as the one with Janet Jackson, but pretty exciting nonetheless. Allow me to explain. First off, the Patriots lost; who saw that coming? But more importantly, I noticed lizards doing the Thriller dance, democrats befriending republicans and the 7-foot-1-inch Shaquille O’Neal jockeying a racehorse. Shocking as these things may be, they pale in comparison to what I saw at the halftime show: Teenage girls screaming Tom Petty lyrics.

I had long since given up on young America’s taste in music. I grew up listening to classic rock (thank you Double Q), and never really gave much thought to pop music until I hit middle school. That’s when Britney Spears and the boy bands really hit big.

It was sickening to watch girls drool over the Backstreet Boys like they were the Beatles (I’m more of an N*Sync fan myself). Somehow, these third-rate processed teenage acts became Elvis. At this point, I decided I must have been born in the wrong generation, and completely gave up on people my age.

For at least ten years, I’ve turned on the radio and drudged through station after station searching for something vaguely listenable. On rare occasion, I stumbled on something good (like that song about the diner “do do do do do-da-do do”), but for the most part, the music was intolerable I have moaned and complained that everyone lacks taste and that teenagers have ruined American music, and America, for most of my life.

Well, allow me to apologize. This is official. It’s in writing. I apologize. I’m sorry for all those terrible things I said about you and your stupid friends and your horrid collective taste. I’m sorry I said young consumers were mindless zombies molded by corporations, and programmed to love everything on MTV. I’m sorry. It was stupid and I should never have said anything.

We’ve come a long way as a nation since the Aerosmith/Britney concert back in 2001. Thanks to Janet, Justin and Nipplegate (that’s what they call it, look it up), we took a step back to our roots in real music for one of our nation’s most revered events. The “big game” focuses on athletes who are the best of the best. It’s only fitting that they be coupled with the best of the music world.

The past four years have brought Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince and, now, Tom Petty to the Super Bowl. I really thought the days of young people singing along to these great artists were over, but it’s wonderful to see that Americans have not outgrown good music.

I’m thrilled to see that Tom Petty is still breaking hearts after all these years. Super Bowl XLII restored my faith in America’s youth. Rock on, America, rock on!

Thanks go to Petty and to those lovely singing girls for showing me the light. American music is real musicians playing real music, not so-called “singers” lip-syncing to the tune of a DJ (I believe they call that karaoke).

But what do I know? I’m just a college student.