I was contracted by Pencilstorm to critique the Bruno Mars halftime performance at the SuperBowl, but first I’d like to refute a coupla points Colin made in his “What kind of jack-ass actually wants to go to the Super Bowl?” post, the main one being that the Super Bowl is not American Sports' Greatest Championship, which I happen to believe it is.
First, and let me be clear up-front, I am a professional football fan. I don’t really enjoy the college game, it just strikes me that college football players never really look like they’re trying very hard. (My Sunday Night NFL friends Kyle & Rob - both of whom actually like college football, O.S.U. in particular - begged me not to put that sentence in print, but I stand by it.) (That being said, I’m not answering any knocks at my door the next week or ten days, in case Michael “Biggie” McDermott is hiding in the bushes, waiting to punch me in the throat.)
I like my football liberally sprinkled with million-dollar paychecks, commercial endorsements, greedy owners (who will at least admit their greed, unlike college presidents & athletic directors who reap untold MILLIONS of dollars off of their “student athletes”), steroids, concussions & painkillers. Plus the NFL season is short, succinct and to the point, just like the best rock & roll. The NFL season starts in the fall and ends in the winter, unlike the Endless Slog Bataan Death March that the Major League Baseball season has become, wherein the games commence in April and end in November with snowflakes flying and die-hard baseball fans bundled up like extras in an Antarctic documentary. Baseball should begin when the birds start singing in the spring and the last game of the World Series should be played the day before elementary school starts. Case closed.
Also, as my good friend Rob points out, the entire NFL playoff season is accomplished in three tidy weekends, one & done, you lose and you’re out. It’s not the NBA where all but six teams make the playoffs, or the NHL, where the Stanley Cup is still being contested when baseball season opens, a situational sports overlap that should not be tolerated. Hockey & baseball just do not mix. Dropping the puck and throwing out the first pitch are not contemporaneous in a Rational World.
But I digress….Bruno Mars:
Mars’ halftime show was just as underwhelming as this year’s Super Bowl game. (Which I enjoyed, once I adjusted to the fact that my Steelers, Packers and Saints were nowhere to be found and threw in my lot with Brian Phillips’ Seahawks, just so his family would be safe in February.) When Mars was first announced as the Super Bowl halftime “entertainment” I had serious reservations, doubts and questions: 1) Had we really used up every classic-rock act – your Tom Petty’s, your Bruce Springsteen’s, your Rolling Stones’, your Aerosmith’s, your Who’s – that we had to resort to the likes of Bruno Mars? 2) Would the Great Unwashed of football-watching, wing-chomping masses even know who Bruno Mars was? (Not everyone suffers through the Grammy’s or other “awards” shows of their ilk like I do.) 3) Worst of all, does this mean I’m facing a future where I might have to sit through the likes of Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, or Arcade Fire during halftime of the Super Bowl? Christ, I’d watch a high-school marching band playing Foreigner tunes like back in the day before I’d subject myself to that.
Anyway, Mars delivered his usual “I-think-I’m-Prince-for-the-21st-century” act, complete with unison step routines for the band and the obligatory James Brown dance cops. (It just kinda made me miss Wendy & Lisa.) (And oddly, Prince himself guested on Zooey Deschanel’s “New Girl” right after the Super Bowl, effortlessly making Bruno Mars appear the wannabe that he is.)
Mars began the show playing drums, briefly leading me to believe he was going to challenge the late Karen Carpenter as pop music’s Greatest Lead-Singing Drummer. (For those of you scoring at home: Dick Dodd of The Standells - of “Dirty Water” fame - was rock & roll’s greatest lead-singing drummer.) (Am I forgetting Don Henley of The Eagles, one might ask? Don’t make me laugh.) Mars and the band moved through “Locked Out Of Heaven” and “Treasure” pleasantly enough, prompting my buddy Kyle to comment, “White girls know ALL the words to Bruno Mars’ songs.”
By 8:16 pm, when The Red Hot Chili Peppers appear for their guest-spot on “Give It Away,” we’re all just kinda waiting for this debacle to be over, just as Peyton Manning and the rest of the Broncos were probably doing. Flea and Anthony Kiedis take the stage shirtless and the best thing I can think is, “At least, thank God, they’re in relatively good shape and it’s not Roger Daltrey of The Who baring his pale, bumpy, 60-something year-old chest.”
Mars ends his Super Bowl show with “Just The Way You Are,” a BALLAD, for Chrissakes. You clamber all the way up the pop ladder to appear for no pay at the Super Bowl and finish your set with a BALLAD? Come on, Bruno. (Kyle comments, “Bruno is now tied with Billy Joel for the worst song called “Just The Way You Are.”)
Anyway, ending his appearance with a romantic, heart-wrenching ballad apparently brought tears to the eyes of the Broncos kick-off team, making it impossible for them to see the Seahawks’ Percy Harvin clearly, thus enabling him to run back the opening kick of the second half for a game-clinching touchdown, and ending the Broncos season really, really early.
Please God, don’t make me watch Daft Punk or Robin Thicke at next year’s Super Bowl. – Ricki C. / February 3rd, 2014.