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The Super Bowl Halftime Show just happened, and if the Twitter response is any indication, everyone was collectively pretty happy-- a solid 8/10. That’s actually great for a Super Bowl Halftime Show. And I think I know why: it was a true ensemble in every sense of the word.
For years, the NFL has toyed with trotting out a host of famous musicians during the Halftime Show. Unfortunately, the majority of these appearances have historically been little more than window dressing, like when MIA showed up to flip off the world. At best, they’ve allowed fans watching at home to say, “Hey, I think I just saw Lenny Kravitz”. At worst, they’ve come off as forced and downright distracting. But this year was different. Coldplay may have technically been the headliner, but both Bruno Mars and Beyonce were given plenty of time to shine.
Each artist was given room to actually breathe. They were able to perform an entire song or more in their own style, without interference or weirdness from the others. Consequently, it was like a really extravagant series of music videos that all meshed together for one over-the-top finale. It wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve seen, or anyone else has ever seen for that matter, but it was worth watching and not in a cringe-worthy type way. It worked. Considering how often these things don’t, that’s worth taking note of too.
That’s the thing about the Super Bowl Halftime Show. It’s really hard to get right. The best possible thing that can happen is for one musician or band to come out and absolutely crush it, delivering a performance that’s both a spectacle and a real concert people would enjoy going to. That’s really hard to do though because the fans in the audience aren’t there to see a concert, the sound is always a real problem and everyone in the world is into different types of music. It takes a special performer to catch lightning in a bottle and make it work. So, if that’s not available, why not pick three or four acts, give them a few minutes each to create one fantastic spectacle and then bring them together for one big finish? It’s a recipe that could be replicated over and over again.
So, hats off to Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce. Perhaps more importantly, hats off to the NFL, which isn’t always the best at decision making, for finding a formula that worked. Instead of bringing in famous faces to play second fiddle, let those famous faces get their own moments in the sun. It allows them to perform in their natural elements, and it gives fans a pretty solid show.