Current Events

Halftime Hero: Why Bruno Mars Is the Right Choice for Super Bowl XLVIII

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:

REWIND: Bruno Mars & Ellie Goulding at Toyota Center, 8/15/2013

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.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.