Source: Dallas News – By Christine Ricciardi
Hours before Super Bowl XLVIII, the Internet was buzzing about halftime performer Bruno Mars. Publications such as PolicyMic suggested Mars’ appointment to the esteemed performance slot was “bizarre.” Said a Time story that morning: “The scrawny little dude with the gravity-defying haircut named Bruno Mars is, in fact, your halftime entertainment.”
Did he really deserve to join the ranks of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and The Who and play the year’s most coveted spot on prime time television? Most definitely.
Mars quieted the naysayers Sunday with an energetic blend of funk, soul and rock ‘n roll. After a dramatic lights-out moment at MetLife Stadium, Mars emerged in the spotlight for an impressive drum solo atop a moving platform, his gold jacket gleaming as he cruised above the crowd toward the stage. One final whack on the drum kit and an eight-piece band in matching gold blazers sprung onto the stage for the infinitely popular “Locked Out of Heaven” off 2012’s Unorthodox Jukebox (which was one of that year’s top five highest grossing albums, it’s worth noting).
The band jumped quickly into “Treasure,” a deliciously seductive tune that warrants equally as sexy dance moves — which Mars and his crew were more than happy to provide. During “Runaway Baby,” Mars showed his real swagger through a series of hip thrusts and shuffles that would make James Brown and Michael Jackson proud. The only thing missing was a swift crotch-grab.
Mars paid homage to his roots in funk and doo-wop by guiding the crowd “a little bit softer now” and “a little bit louder now” before singing the infamous chorus to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away.”
Talk about a rocking collaboration. The guest appearance by Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith doubled the concert’s intensity, inspiring a raucous party centerfield and, surely, in the living rooms of longtime fans.
Halftime peaked in a swirl of ‘90s-era guitar riffs backed by the power of a Mars’ brass section. Then, the Mars show took a serious turn. The stadium went dark and video messages from military personnel to their family took over the big screen as an introduction to Mars’ 2010 single “Just The Way You Are.”
It was a sweet and solemn moment, but perhaps not the best choice for a finale. The collaboration between Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers was so explosive, one has to wonder why halftime didn’t end on a high note — or another Chili Peppers’ hit.
Mars was not the Super Bowl Committee’s only unconventional musical choice on Sunday: Opera singer Renée Fleming — who in the week prior to the Super Bowl was deemed the “Peyton Manning of the opera world” — owned the National Anthem, leaving me to wonder why artists from this genre aren’t regularly recruited.
At his age, Mars is reported to be the youngest Super Bowl halftime performer since Justin Timberlake, who was 23 when he and Janet Jackson wowed crowds a decade ago. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment on Sunday night was reshaping the image of today’s pop music. Bruno Mars isn’t just a singer and his show wasn’t just about the spectacle of costume changes or pyrotechnics (though there were timely fireworks). His sound, like Sunday’s performance, is a marriage of old and new. Even the first bars of “Locked Out of Heaven” sound like something off a record from The Police.
Despite being the underdog, Mars provided a sonic reprieve; his performance will go down in a long line of Super Bowl halftime shows. He may have seemed like an arbitrary choice for the gig. But in 10 years, that notion may seem naïve.