Less than a month into the new NFL season, we already know who will be playing at the Super Bowl. We may not know which teams will line up for football's biggest game. As the sports cliché goes, there's a lot of football yet to be played; but, no prognostication is required when the subject is the entertainment booked for the halftime event. It'll be pop sensation Bruno Mars.
No one I've discussed this with has even the slightest problem with the NFL's and sponsoring Pepsi's choice. The grizzled geezers I watch games with would probably prefer some addled rockers out there at the half, bands like The Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or the Rolling Stones, who have all played this gig. But, they also have no objection to this diminutive, flashy wunderkind of pop music.
The reason everyone is fine with Mars as entertainment headliner of one of the world's most televised events is because he is the perfect man for the job. Here are a few reasons why he's an inspired choice:
He's Current For the past couple of years, the game's organizers have been trying to book more relevant acts for this event, performers with hits still on the charts and not already in the books. Before the Black Eyed Peas played Super Bowl XLV in 2011, the list of the past few halftime performers looked like that part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony where all the classic rockers crowd the stage to jam together.
The Who, The Boss, Petty, Prince, the Stones and McCartney were the NFL's response to having Janet Jackson expose herself onstage here in Houston during Super Bowl XXXVIII. Billboard's Top 100 is riddled with Mars songs. As current music superstars go, he's near the top of the list.
No Twerking Mars usually performs with an eight-piece band. They're all dudes. There won't be any Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke moments to overshadow what happens on the football field that night. Just nine guys, all dressed alike, throwing down some jams.
"Gorilla" Have you heard this song? It's dripping with sweat, the kind that breaks on one's brow from nothing other than good, old-fashioned fornication. And it's catchy as hell. Once it gets caught in whatever brain folds keep us humming the same song, it's there all day, reminding us of stuff we can't do all day.
If Bruno unleashes "Gorilla" during his set, a lot of people might miss the second half of the game.
Michael Jackson Last year's Beyonce Bowl was fine by me; I am a fan as all Houstonians are sworn to be. But Bruno would have made a much better choice because last year was the 20th anniversary of Michael Jackson's game-changing Super Bowl performance.
Like a lot of things the King of Pop did, his 1993 Super Bowl turn shifted pop culture. I was born months before the very first Super Bowl game, so I've seen a few, kids. I'm here to tell you, the halftime show used to be dreadful. The incredibly cheesy Up With People (if you don't know, don't Google 'em -- ignorance is bliss) were frequently booked. Marching bands were big. When they trotted out "stars," Carol Channing and George Burns showed up.
All that changed when Michael did his thing. The game was a snoozefest, unless you happen to be a Cowboys fan (Dallas 52, Buffalo 17). It's unknown whether eight-year-old Mars was watching from his Hawaiian home that night, but there's no doubt he saw and has emulated plenty of Michael Jackson. Having him onstage will feel a little like having Mike back for one night.
More Bruno on the next page.
The Ladies Love Him About 110 million U.S. viewers saw last year's Super Bowl contest. Women made up a huge chunk of that audience, more than 51 million by the league's estimates. If you're a competing TV network, you might plan something that will draw some percentage of those 51 million women away for a bit. Maybe a new episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," so the ladies can feel all maternal, or some Oprah-produced offering.
Don't do it this year, TV honchos. A very informal poll of some women I know suggests Mars is adorable, dreamy and, true to his name, out of this world. No matter how cold it is in New Jersey come February, he'll heat things up a bit, they say. Expect that 51 million to increase a bit this year.
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SHOW ME HOW
Everyone Loves Him Okay, "everyone" might be a bit hyperbolic. Nothing invites comments of "you're out of your damn mind" or "I wish the Press would hire real writers" quicker than a blanket statement about a pop star. But, if you truly despise Mars, you'll be the first person I've heard from who can't appreciate some part of what he does.
If you don't hate talent, you might recognize he is a songwriter with a gift for creating songs that stick with you, like that stuff on your fingers when you eat buffalo wings (a Super Bowl favorite!) You have to admit, it's tasty. Or, at least concede he has a fine voice
If you're not a fan of pop music, a: grow up, it's pop music, it's not going away; and b: admit that the kid has some nice dance moves. If all this fails, find the episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted on Hulu and check out his comedic timing. That might win you over.
Or, you could just wait until February and watch with millions more of us while Mars proves why he was the right choice for this gig.