In the words of Bruno Mars himself: “Oh yeah yeah. Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah. HOOH-UH!“
After diva extravaganzas — Madonna and Beyoncé, to be specific — the last two years, the pop-soul superstar brought a decidedly more organic musical vibe to the Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show, with special guests the Red Hot Chili Peppers contributing to the hook-tastic proceedings.
Out: Aggressive backing tracks, armies of dancers and wardrobe malfunctions (or things that might be mistaken for ’em). In: Bruno and his rockin’, raucous band (in typical horn-line formation — and jaunty gold jackets) doing the damn thing as he ripped through a medley of hits that — if I’m being honest — could’ve gone on for another 10-15 minutes without complaint from most (aside from the truly, deeply football fanatical).
Things opened with a fun, fascinating juxtaposition — a cute children’s chorus serving up a snippet of “Billionaire,” followed by a closeup shot of Mars at the drums — completely going off with an abandon you might not expect from a guy about to launch into a high-octane mini concert in front of a massive global audience.
After that, a spectacular one-two-three punch of “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby” — finished off with Mars giving us his best “is the dude moving on ice?” James Brown-esque dance breakdown. The subsequent jam session served as the perfect place to pause for a Red Hot Chili Peppers interlude — as a bizarrely kneesock-clad Anthony Kiedis & Co. bounced like kids on trampolines for the iconic “Give It Away.” Yep, they’ve still got it!
The final shift in tone? A touching montage of overseas U.S. military personnel sending dedications to family, friends and loved ones back home, as Mars launched into a subdued cover of “Just the Way You Are.” Were the ensuing fireworks a little over the top? Um, of course not! It’s the damn Super Bowl. And the halftime show, if you’ll forgive me a moment of cheesiness, was amazing — just the way it was.