LOS ANGELES Absurd, gauche and oddly appropriate.
Those were some of the begrudgingly positive reviews of the Black Eyed Peas' brief set at the Super Bowl halftime show in Dallas on Sunday.
The chart-topping foursome, famed for frustratingly catchy dance tunes such as "Let's Get It Started" and "I Gotta Feeling," took to the stage at Cowboys Stadium accompanied by hundreds of dancers wearing LED-covered suits.
Following in the footsteps of such venerable rock acts as The Who, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, the Black Eyed Peas were the first hip-hop act to take center stage at America's biggest sporting event.
Amid all the glitz, the event was plagued by the inevitable technical difficulties. But at least singer Fergie did not fall victim to the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" that exposed Janet Jackson's nipple during the disastrous 2004 installment.
Amid guest slots by former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and scene-stealing R&B star Usher, critics appeared to give the Black Eyed Peas the benefit of the doubt.
"The Peas, love 'em or hate 'em, are the group this game of hype deserves," the Los Angeles Times said.
Sure, the band's music is aimed at "mindless partying," and Fergie's glittery top was "absurd and somewhat laughable," but the Peas had more relevance than previous baby boomer acts, wrote the paper's critic Todd Martens.
"The Peas of 2011 embrace all things commercial and ridiculous," he said. "Corny? Please. In the world of the Peas, nothing is too silly and everything is built for exaggeration."
The New York Times was also full of backhanded compliments, citing the group's "gauche taste" and "anonymous smash hits."
A spectacular piece of choreography by Usher, who leaped high over the head of kneeling singer will.i.am, and landed on the stage in a split "only ended up highlighting the headliners' weaknesses," said the paper's critic, Jon Caramanica.
The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot said the Peas were "an oddly appropriate choice" for the big event.
"With lyrics like Madison Avenue slogans plastered over relentless beats, the quartet's big, proudly superficial music advertised and celebrated itself," he wrote.
But Entertainment Weekly said the foursome seemed "... well, as small as peas themselves," awkwardly static as illuminated, "Tron"-like dancers swirled around them.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Elaine Lies)