Bruno Mars revives the halftime show

Bruno Mars performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the...

Bruno Mars performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, New Jersey, February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

Ten years later, Janet Jackson’s breast is still being felt.

Well, not literally felt. Not since Justin Timberlake got his hands on it and caused the wardrobe malfunction that’s cast a chill over Super Bowl halftime shows – hell, over entertainment on television in general – ever since.

That half-second flash of Jackson’s exposed boob in 2004, in front of tens of thousands of fans at Houston’s Reliant Stadium and tens of millions at home, ensured nothing particularly interesting would be allowed to happen at a halftime show for a long time.

But Sunday night’s melding of Bruno Mars (he of the twinkling eyes, sharp cheeks and golden voice) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (they of the sweaty, dirty, sock-wearing SoCal funk-rock) might have been a sign that the Super Bowl halftime spectacle is warming up a bit.

The show opened with Mars – pompadour’d hair, gold lame jacket, skinny tie and all – furiously pounding the drums as a lead-in to Locked Out of Heaven, the song that you’ve heard roughly 562 times in the past year.

But this proved exactly why Mars was a perfect choice for halftime: his audience crosses all kinds of age and cultural boundaries, and he’s both supremely talented and surprisingly genuine. Mars and his similarly attired band did Treasure and Runaway Baby before shifting into funkified, James Brown-esque version of Give It Away, signalling it was time for the Chili Peppers to teleport onto the stage.

Yes, the mix of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers was odd – Mars was six years old when Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out – but it worked. Partly because it was astounding to 51-year-old Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis bounding up and down the stage in multicoloured tights and no shirt, and partly because whether you like them or not, these guys are all experienced, talented showmen.

It was weird, chaotic and fun, three things the Super Bowl halftime show hasn’t seen a lot of over the past 10 years.

The show ended with Mars singing Just the Way You Are, preceded by some U.S. military servicemen and women sending their love to the folks back home. A nice tip of the hat to those who serve? A shameless ploy for patriotic goodwill? You be the judge.

Still – and maybe this is just a result of drastically lowered expectations – it was a surprisingly entertaining 12 minutes. We may never again see something as memorable as Janet Jackson’s boob during halftime, but this could be a grope in the right direction.


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