Halftime show veterans outshine Coldplay

[image courtesy of CNN]

By: Liam McGurl  @Liiiammm1996

Despite some Super Bowl fans’ unease when Coldplay’s Super Bowl 50 halftime headline was announced in early December, the British rock band exceeded expectations this past Sunday—with a little help from some past halftime headlines.

During the Feb. 7 performance, lead singer Chris Martin ran to the stage in the most anticlimactic of ways, standing atop a technicolor platform after what seemed like 1000 fans stormed the field.  It has been done before and didn’t compare to Katy Perry’s robotic lion entrance last year, but Coldplay kept things true to their rarely faltering aesthetic.

Opening with their 2008 single “Viva La Vida”—a not-so-surprising move—the Super Bowl stadium seemed more like “Paradise” than the home to the world’s most televised sporting event, with band members donning vibrant, colorful patches on their clothing and floral arrangements all around the set.  It’s likely the set was inspired by the group’s Beyoncé collaboration “Hymn for the Weekend,” released less than two weeks before the big game, but the track remained unsung by the end of the nearly 15-minute-long performance.

From a whimsical “Paradise” rendition, with fluttering butterflies lighting up the stage, to an upbeat performance of “Adventure of a Lifetime,” accompanied by twirling, larger-than-life flowers, vibrant color and symphonic sound seemed to be the show’s only consistent.  In essence, Coldplay delivered “good enough” vocals and, with the help of an extensive budget, provided psychedelic visuals to match them.  Albeit entertaining, the group’s solo portion of the show was far from its most memorable moments.

Likely acknowledging fans plea for a break in the group’s typical lullaby tunes, “Grenade” singer Bruno Mars took the stage—joined by an entourage of leather-clad dancers—before superstar Beyoncé appeared behind a splitting line of militaristic drummers and beret-bearing dancers.  The 2013 halftime headline sparked some conversation, singing her rap-heavy, politically motivated single “Formation,” which comments on the long-standing history of racial intolerance in America.  As for Bey’s outfit, it’s looking like her golden chest straps were a likely intentional tribute to 1993 Super Bowl headliner Michael Jackson.

Fan reactions to the “Single Ladies” singer’s performance were split, with some missing the 34 year-old performers softer side and others reveling in her forceful, equality-focused message; the song choice is debatable but the effectiveness of its message, well, not so much.

Bruno Mars also joined Queen B onstage for a momentary dance battle and “Uptown Funk,” “Crazy in Love” mashup, before uniting with Coldplay for a finale, supported by choirs, fireworks and a stadium donning the message “Believe in Love.”

The performance pleased, yielding the appropriate amount of controversy and collaborations, but nothing came as a surprise.  Unlike Beyoncé’s post-performance stadium blackout, Prince’s questionable guitar positioning or MIA’s unfitting hand gestures, Coldplay’s halftime legacy will be rooted in a sentiment of feel-good messages and visuals, rather than relying on the unexpected.  As for Beyoncé and Mars, they might have been Coldplay’s best decision for the night, livening up what felt like an overall dull performance.

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