For as much as Super Bowl XLVIII will be about a high-level football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, it will also very much be about entertainment from other realms. Some people will tune in simply for the commercials, while others will be intrigued by the musical acts.
In many ways, the NFL has gone off the board this year from a musical perspective. Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Bruno Mars was selected as the featured performer at halftime, and that continued when it was announced that he would be joined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even the singer for the national anthem was a controversial decision, as it will be sung by opera singer Renee Fleming.
With all of that in mind, here is an overview of what you can expect from each of the critical musical performers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) January 29, 2014
The 28-year-old Mars is still fairly new to the spotlight, but there is no question that he has already built up a considerable fanbase. By picking Mars as the halftime act, it is fairly obvious that the NFL is trying to appeal to a younger demographic. Prior to last year’s Beyonce performance, the NFL had shied away from that due to the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction in 2004. In order to drive viewership even more, though, picking a fresh act like Mars is probably a good idea. The Grammy winner’s popularity is very much on the ascent right now, and he has a long list of hits that should allow him to build an interesting set list. Songs such as “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Treasure” and “Grenade” are all definite possibilities to reverberate throughout MetLife Stadium. As seen in this photo, courtesy of Mars’ Twitter account, he is already present to begin preparations: Since the NFL knows that football fans are guaranteed to watch the Super Bowl no matter what, picking Mars could ultimately prove to be a brilliant move. The choice may not exactly thrill diehard football fans, but it’s all about reaching as many people as possible.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
For all the viewers who may have trouble getting into Mars’ halftime performance, the NFL made yet another wise choice by throwing the Red Hot Chili Peppers into the fray. Although there is no question that the combination of a newer pop singer like Mars and a veteran alternative rock band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers seems odd on the surface, these types of collaborations have actually worked quite well in the past.
Few could have predicted in 2001 that Aerosmith and Britney Spears would mesh as well as they did, but that halftime show is still considered one of the best ever. If they can have chemistry, there is no reason why Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers can’t.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around since 1983, and they’re in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so they have a huge fanbase. They also seem to be embracing the Super Bowl atmosphere, as evidenced by this tweet, courtesy of drummer Chad Smith:
For as many hits as Mars has, the Red Hot Chili Peppers may have even more, from “Aeroplane” and “Under the Bridge” to “Can’t Stop” and “Californication.” Although they’ll have to let Mars have much of the spotlight, they figure to be a fantastic supporting act for what should be a unique halftime show.
As important as the halftime show is, it can be argued that the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an even bigger deal. The national anthem sets the stage for everything that happens at the Super Bowl, so there is plenty of pressure to sing it well.The NFL has chosen opera singer Renee Fleming to kick things off at MetLife Stadium. While she may not have the mainstream appeal that some past anthem singers have had, there is no question that she has the vocal chops necessary to do the anthem justice.
An opera singer obviously seems like a bizarre fit for the Super Bowl on the surface, but it isn’t as if she’ll be part of the halftime show. The national anthem thrives on emotion, and opera singers perform with more emotion than anyone. Fleming also enters the Super Bowl with a ringing endorsement from former vocal coach Benton Hess of the Eastman School of Music, according to Justin Grant of WHEC.com:
When the icons of that nature sing the national anthem, it becomes about that, but that’s not what the national anthem is. Renee can bring a certain gravitas. She is much beloved because she has never forgotten her background that she got here at Eastman.
Even if many of those watching the Super Bowl have never heard of Fleming, they may very well come away with a new respect for opera. If nothing else, it is worth it for the NFL to try something new, especially since a cold-weather Super Bowl is new in its own right.
By Mike Chiari