Will singer Bruno Mars return to the Super Bowl halftime show?
It’s being reported that the National Football League (NFL) has asked Mars to come back for the upcoming game, which will be the fiftieth Super Bowl, and that if he accepted, Mars would not only perform but that the “Uptown Funk” singer was also invited to “curate” the program and so would presumably have a hand in inviting others to come aboard the show.
Mars performed at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show with the band the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2014. Mars’ performance was fairly well-received and his performance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the second-highest-rated halftime show of all time (Katy Perry, who performed with singer Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz this past February, became the highest-rated halftime show).
The fact that the upcoming Super Bowl, which will take place next February, is the fiftieth indicates that the NFL is probably looking for an even grander show than usual (and performing at the Super Bowl halftime show is normally one of the most high-profile music gigs in the country).
It has only been in recent decades that it was expected that a singer with current or recent top 40 hits would be taking the stage for the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s likely that viewers would be confused if a show today included, for example, the “Indiana Jones” theme that was used for the halftime show in 1995 that included Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett performing and actors doing various stunts.
The recent roster of performers like Mars and Perry are also more current than some of the other acts. The 2001 Super Bowl halftime show included the top singers of the day like the band Aerosmith, Britney Spears, and NSYNC. That trend was echoed the next year by inviting U2, then the next by having Sting, No Doubt, and Shania Twain take the stage.
But the infamous halftime program in February 2004, which involved singer Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, prompted a new emphasis on classic rock acts that could be viewed as less prone to controversy. Paul McCartney and the bands the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and the Who took the stage over the next years.
Bringing the Black Eyed Peas in for the 2011 show marked a return to having more current acts onstage, though the next year’s performer, Madonna, provided a bridge between the two.
Inviting back Mars could be a sign that those behind the Super Bowl are looking to bring back other popular acts as well – perhaps Perry or Beyoncé or even looking back further to artists like Prince or Justin Timberlake. Or Mars could bring on some of his collaborators to form a kind of superstar lineup. Mars has worked in the past with musicians including rapper Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Kesha, Flo Rida, CeeLo Green, and Alicia Keys, among many others, and it was reported earlier this year that Mars is working with Kanye West on a project.