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A Daydreamy Halftime Show

| Monday, February 8, 2016

HalftimeShow_WebEric Richelsen | The Observer

The Illuminati must have had a hand in planning the Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, which featured Coldplay as the headliner along with Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, in a show that was so surreal, I’m still requesting testimony that it occurred in real life.

The early time of day had the double effect of demystifying the usually invisible crowd and far edges of the stadium, yet simultaneously contributing to its daydream-like visual. Coldplay opened atop a colorful stage surrounded by dancers dressed as huge flowers, further accentuating the surreal ambiance surrounding the halftime performance.

Chris Martin revealed in the NFL halftime show press conference that the style was inspired by Glastonbury Festival, a place considered an oasis of community, individualism and freedom from social norms. The vibe is nothing short of shocking when juxtaposed with the Super Bowl, appealing to the opposite ideological demographic as possibly the most commercial event in the world.

As the most watched music event of the year, the halftime show is expected to be the most ubiquitous. This year’s choice of performers followed the trend of recent years of seasoned-yet-relevant artists, as opposed to earlier years of throwbacks like Madonna and The Who. In an age when parents are streaming new music instead of replaying old records, these are the performers that now appeal to the widest audience.

Despite their reputation for impressive live performance, Coldplay’s presence was shrunken by the crowd and the venue. Most of the band’s energy was in the form of Martin’s jumping. Maybe a Bruno Mars drum solo would have livened things.

A mere two years after his headlining performance, Bruno Mars came onstage to Mark Ronson’s funky spinning. Metallic suits against the blue sky captured from a low angle was one of the most surreal shots of the performance: Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m tempted to suspect this particular shot was filmed in a studio. The mesmerizing choreography was a pick-me-up after a headliner hardly more interesting than sports.

Beyoncé and her girl army took formation turning the football field into a battlefield reminiscent of the video for “Run the World,” performing the politically charged song “Formation” released only the day before. Only three years after headlining the best halftime show in my memory, Beyoncé brought yet another fierce and sexy performance but obviously couldn’t reach the level she did in 2013. Beyoncé is said to have dominated this year’s performance, but Bruno Mars might have actually had the upper hand in the climactic dance battle with Queen Bey.

The inclusion of two recent headliners was an obvious point to the past. In its 50th year, the Super Bowl got retrospective, looking further into the past with video clips from past performers like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé came together for a montage including lyrics from Prince’s “Purple Rain” and U2’s “Beautiful Day” in a sentimental conclusion.

The attempt to send a “deeper message” with the halftime show becomes more blatant each year. This time, the crowd even spelled out the colorful message, “Believe in love.” Promoting peace and equality, the halftime show is the perfect opportunity to inflate your hope in humanity before returning to watching guys who are getting paid millions of dollars knock the snot out of each other.

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