The Michelob Ultra Super Bowl commercial features a line of bowlers facing off against one another, so it is only fitting that the song playing is “Showdown” by Electric Light Orchestra. The smooth disco tune captures a relaxed, cool environment as Peyton Manning arrives at Superior Bowl, dressed in a classic blue league shirt, and Steve Buscemi works the bar, spraying down bowling shoes and getting beer ready.
ELO’s “Showdown” wasn’t a huge success during its initial release in ’73, but the use of the song in 1996 for the film “Kingpin” with Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray revived its popularity. Apparently this track has become synonymous with bowling! John Lennon loved the song so much, he thought it belonged at #1 on the charts. “[It’s] a beautiful combination of ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ by Marvin Gaye and ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’ by Lou Christie, and it’s a beautiful job with a little ‘I Am the Walrus’ underneath,” Lennon said, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
Allowing the song to do most of the work, there is barely any dialogue; the cast communicating through nodding, acknowledgment, and competitive glances as bowling gets underway. As ELO sets up “there’s gonna be a showdown,” we get a look at the entire bowling alley: the lanes, bar, karaoke area, a pool table. Athletes including Peyton Manning, Jimmy Butler, Brooks Koepka, Alex Morgan, and Nneka Ogwumike fill the place and gather for the friendly competition as another icon arrives.