For those of us who have no interest in football, the Super Bowl halftime show is the one thing (aside from Super Bowl parties and chili cookoffs) we have to look forward to during what is probably the biggest sporting event of the year.
The commercials during the game are entertaining, but I usually miss them. I find televised football so boring that I distract myself by socializing, eating and playing board games during the Super Bowl, which means I miss the game and the commercials.
All socializing and board games stop when it’s halftime, though.
The show opened with an epic chorus of “ahs,” followed by an adorable children’s choir bundled up against the New Jersey cold. They literally prepared us for Bruno Mars’ entrance with the line, “The world better prepare,” from Mars’ song “Billionaire.”
The visual effects coupled with the choir’s harmony gave me chills. I already described it as epic, but I’m going to have to say it again. The opening gave me high hopes for an epic performance from Mars.
I was confused about the American flag imagery and the red, white and blue lights flashing around the choir. I’ve never considered Mars’ songs especially patriotic. But nothing says “America” like the Super Bowl, so why not throw in some patriotic imagery?
Once the children sang their last “prepare,” there was Mars on the drums, delivering an impressive solo and sporting a pompadour that harkened back to Little Richard.
The retro comparisons continued throughout the performance. Mars’ gold jacket and black tie kept reminding me of Little Richard. His band’s brass instruments and coordinated dance moves had both a Motown and funk vibe.
Mars’ and the band’s dance moves during “Treasure” took me back to ‘90s boy band days.
Mars’ most obvious musical tribute was probably his footwork during “Runaway Baby,” where he channeled James Brown (and did a split, which caught me by surprise).
I thought Mars couldn’t have been older than 23 while watching his energetic performance, but an Internet search proved that he is actually 28, which is still incredibly young for performing at arguably one of the biggest entertainment spectaculars of the year.
And then, all semblance of youth disappeared when the Red Hot Chili Peppers shouted and thrashed around half naked on the stage. They are entirely too old to be going shirtless, not to mention it was cold in New Jersey.
The Chili Peppers’ performance of “Give it Away” was weird, simultaneously stale and chaotic compared to Mars’ intentional, tributary performance.
It also seemed random. Mars is a fresh, pop star, not a rocker. The segue from the Chili Peppers into Mars’ mellow “Just the Way You Are,” which opened with more patriotism through a tribute to military families, didn’t fit. The combination of Mars’ perfect, smooth vocals and The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ shouting didn’t work for me.
But despite the hiccup in the performance, couples everywhere made googly eyes at one another during Mars’ flawless vocals in “Just the Way You Are.” (Admit it, it’s been “your song” before.)
It was a stellar performance. Mars is just as good, perhaps even better, live than he is on a recording, and he proved that at only 28, he could give a legendary halftime show just like the veterans who have come before him.
The only thing I can hold against Mars is that he is not Beyoncé, whose halftime show will forever be the fierce standard by which I judge all future halftime shows.
No one can outdo Queen Bey.