NY DAILY NEWS – During Bruno Mars’ 12-minute display — complete with a seamless cameo by The Red Hot Chili Peppers — the 28-year-old singer touched on bouncy ’60s Motown, fun ’70s disco funk, slick ’80s pop and a hint of modern hip-hop-flash. He may not have the figure of Beyoncé or the buzz of Madonna. But this year’s half time star — Bruno Mars — brought dynamism and an old-fashioned sense of showmanship to his Super Bowl blow-out. Opening with his smash “Locked Out of Heaven,” the pompadour’d star whipped through a tight and brisk run of four hits. His sole guest stars — The Red Hot Chili Peppers — seamlessly slipped their percussive song “Give It Away” into the headliner’s “Runaway Baby.” Mars’ 12-minute display exuded a friendliness and ease so winning, it made the edginess or cool of some past Super Bowl stars irrelevant. More, the performance wore its sources well, doubling as a history lesson in song. The songs Mars offered represented a virtual pop nexus of the last 40 years, touching on bouncy ’60s Motown, fun ’70s disco funk, slick ’80s pop and a hint of modern hip-hop-flash. At one point, he referenced James Brown’s fast-footed dance moves.
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SUPER SOPRANO: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, “No one — and I mean no one — will ever do a better version” of the National Anthem “than Renee Fleming did on Sunday.” It was “the best version ever done at a Super Bowl — yep, it even blew away Whitney Houston’s version in Tampa — and the best that will ever be done.” Jones: “Let’s just bring Fleming back every year” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/3). In Pittsburgh, Mark Kanny writes Fleming’s singing was “beautifully sustained and pitch perfect — but did not try to compete with the emotional impact of pop divas who have sung it in years past” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/3). In St. Louis, Sarah Bryan Miller wrote Fleming “sang it straight: She didn’t take liberties with the notes, although she did mess with the tempos.” Fleming’s “tuning was absolutely accurate and her high notes gleamed” (STLTODAY.com, 2/2). In N.Y., Zachary Woolfe writes Fleming’s performance was “eminently operatic: confident, sensible and performed with ease, and without the strain … that pop-diva belting entails” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3). The AP’s Talbott wrote singer Queen Latifah — who sang “America The Beautiful” — and Fleming “proved the perfect choices to sing” before the game. Both women are “accomplished performers and handled the pitfall-ridden material with relative ease in stirring performances that brought cheers from the crowd” (AP, 2/2).
Here’s a round up of the reviews from media outlets across the country:
Bruno Mars during his halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVIII “brought dynamism and an old-fashioned sense of showmanship to his Super Bowl blow-out,” according to Jim Farber of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Mars’ 12-minute performance “exuded a friendliness and ease so winning, it made the edginess or cool of some past Super Bowl stars irrelevant” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/3). In New Jersey, Jim Beckerman writes Mars gave “a high-octane, rip-roaring halftime show that aced what was widely perceived as a gamble.” Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers “bonded sensationally” (Bergen RECORD, 2/3). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “I thought Bruno Mars killed it last night. I thought he was fantastic. … I thought he way exceeded expectations.” Greenberg: “From the moment he appeared hitting those drums to the very last second, I thought he was absolutely sensational. … He’s got a little bit of James Brown and a little bit of Michael Jackson, and that’s a dynamite combination” (“Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio, 2/3). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes this was “one of the worst and least memorable Super Bowls ever except for the sensational Bruno Mars halftime show” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 2/3). In Newark, Tris McCall writes under the header, “Bruno Mars Lights Up Halftime.” Mars’ set was “smart and accomplished; if it never rose to the level of spectacle, it was confident throughout, and made the argument that there’s no special effect any better than a tight pop band” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/3).
MEMORABLE SET: USA TODAY’s Brian Mansfield writes Mars “established his musician credentials quickly, starting his set behind the drum kit” (USA TODAY, 2/3). BILLBOARD’s Kevin Rutherford wrote the finale of Mars’ show was a “nice, touching moment, and a definite mid-tempo breather from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, energetic showcase that had preceded it” (BILLBOARD.com, 2/2). The AP’s Chris Talbott writes there were “no flubs, no negative moments that will live on at the water cooler.” Talbott: “And while you can argue about the entertainment value of watching shirtless Chili Peppers gambol about the stage, the 50-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famers managed to match Mars’ energy in a brief appearance that was no less memorable” (AP, 2/3). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Scott Brown wrote Mars “delivered a fluid, frictionless set based on old-fashioned showsmanship” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 2/2). In California, Ben Wener writes as “halftime shows go,” Mars’ performance was “definitely a cut above, a smart and sharply executed shift away from the overblown productions of the past three years” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/3).
TAKE THAT: In N.Y., Hardeep Phull writes Mars’ “spectacle was a poke in the eye for the doubters who questioned the choice of halftime entertainment.” The late addition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers “proved to be a smart move” (N.Y. POST, 2/3). In Phoenix, Joe Golfen writes under the header, “Bruno Mars Up To Super Bowl Challenge.” Mars “proved more than capable of rocking a stadium full of football fans who might not have known exactly who he was” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/3). In DC, Chris Richards noted Mars during his final song “wore a triumphant smile, seemingly aware he was a risk well worth taking” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Pia Catton wrote, “Looking back, the question now seems absurd: Was Bruno Mars enough of a star to carry the Super Bowl halftime show?” The real question is, “Was the Super Bowl a big enough show for Bruno Mars?” (WSJ.com, 2/2). In Buffalo, Jeff Miers writes Mars had “a lot to live up to,” and he “almost pulled it off” (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/3). In N.Y., Joe Caramanica writes Mars was “energetic and slick during this set, if not quite fun” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3).
USA TODAY - The Super Bowl has made cultural icons out of quarterbacks, running backs and Budweiser frogs. Why shouldn’t it do the same for halftime headliner Bruno Mars? Mars wasn’t the biggest name that the biggest game could have booked. Compared to the superstars who have performed for the past several years — Beyoncé, Madonna, the Black Eyed Peas, The Who,Bruce Springsteen — he’s a relative unknown. But the Super Bowl has a way of elevating those who step up their game in the spotlight. And Mars, the Hawaii-born pop/R&B singer whose style draws onMichael Jackson, Elvis Presley and a wide range of ’60s and ’70s soul, has made a career out of doing just that. The fireworks over MetLife Stadium were secondary to Mars’ incendiary, 2.2 million tweet-generating set, which was packed with hits and steeped in history, starting with a blackout that recalled last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. Dressed in a gold lamé jacket and black tuxedo pants, Mars established his musician credentials quickly, starting his set behind the drum kit before launching into a 12-minute medley that launched with Locked Out of Heaven then segued seamlessly into Treasure and Runaway Baby. (read the whole article here)
TIME MAGAZINE - Concert of the Year? That’s what the NFL claimed all week long as it hyped its halftime show with Bruno Mars. But could a relatively young artist without huge name recognition carry the day? Even one of the football commentators came out and said “There were a lot of doubters.” Once Mars was done, though, doubters should have been few. (continued here)
VARIETY - Unless you were born with the first name “Prince,” there’s really only so much a performer can do with the Super Bowl halftime show slot, and Bruno Mars did plenty with his…Mars relied on a lot of flash, a hefty dose of Famous Flames-style stagecraft, and a requisite hat tip to the military for a winningly unprepossessing performance. (continued here)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY - With nary a middle finger or nipple shield in sight, pop star Bruno Mars took the Super Bowl halftime stage tonight with a polished, shiny set. …There’s no question the kid is talented. He opened up behind a drum kit (he also plays bass, guitar, and piano, people), banging out an indisputable funky beat before launching into monster hits “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Treasure.” It sounded and looked like real vocals backed by a real band putting on a real show for a really huge audience. Mars is a truly impressive performer — catchy songs, strong vocals, and James Brown footwork rivaled only by the Godfather himself. (continued here)
THE DAILY BEAST - With a little help from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a lot of help from his boundless energy, Bruno Mars delivered a start-to-finish impressive, entertaining, and fun Super Bowl performance. (continued here)
E! ONLINE - Well, Bruno Mars did say, “I ain’t scared,” when it came to his Super Bowl performance. And it showed as the “Locked Out of Heaven” crooner brought it at the Pepsi half time show, kicking off his performance on the drums. With a few body rolls to boot, the super-talented artist killed it as he performed “Locked Out of Heaven,” “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby” with his eight-piece band, The Hooligans, who were all dressed in a gold blazer and black pants created custom Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane. (continued here)