A light rain started as Bruno Mars, clad in a gold lamé jacket and skinny black tie, blasted onto the stage during the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show. At the center of MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, a pompadoured Mars shone, putting on a performance with an old-school feel and a lot of soul.
The 28-year-old Hawaii native, who is relatively new to the international music scene, performed what some are calling one of the better Super Bowl performances in recent history. Others, however, say the performance was “forgettable.”
On Sunday, the young artist, whose name probably registered as a question mark in the minds of many of the Super Bowl’s middle-aged viewers, performed for the biggest audience of his career. The Super Bowl half time show opened with a children’s choir singing their rendition of Mars’ hit song “Billionaire.” Then, Mars’ look-alike brother, Eric Hernandez rose from the stage to perform a drum solo.
From there, Mars embarked on a medley of his music, skipping from his song “Locked Out Of Heaven” to “Treasure,” and following it with “Runaway Baby.” At one point, Mars segued into The Isley Brothers’ version of “Shout,” which included some fancy footwork by Mars.
Shortly after, a shirtless Red Hot Chili Peppers joined Mars onstage to belt out their 1991 hit “Give It Away.” Mars closed the set with his ballad “Just The Way You Are.”
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Many Twitter users lauded Mars’ performance, saying the singer’s routine offered some much-needed respite from what many were calling an uneventful Super Bowl game.
Others, however, said the performance was nothing special, citing Mars’ relative anonymity when compared to previous performers like Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Janet Jackson. Certainly, Mars doesn’t have a legacy like those who came before him.
“We grew up with The Beatles,” wrote Chris Chase and Chris Strauss for USA Today following the performance. “You, Bruno Mars, are no Beatles. Despite the best attempts of the NFL and Pepsi to sell Mars as a pop idol worthy of shrieking girls and an audience of 110 million people, the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show was a wholly unspectacular production that will join Tom Petty and The Who in the annals of instantly-forgettable halftime entertainment.”
Still, for an artist whose fan base is certainly on the younger side, and whose music has yet to reach the level of legendary, it was a respectable performance overall. As Chris Richards of the Washington Post wrote, Mars’ performance was “risky” and “refreshing,” but a “risk worth taking.”
Watch the Super Bowl 2014 halftime show featuring Bruno Mars here: