Bruno Mars joked to a reporter at a press conference on Thursday that he “ain’t scared, if that’s what you’re thinking” with regard to his halftime performance in Super Bowl XLVIII. Actually, it is safe to assume that this is exactly what some reporters were thinking. For those who wonder why Mr. Mars might be ever so slightly intimidated by performing in the Super Bowl, there are reasons even more pressing than the the fact that the show will be watched—easily—by more than 100 million people.
There possibly could, from Mars’ (and likely many other artists’) point of view, be something that is more intimidating than trying to meet the musical, vocal, and entertainment demands of perfection that will be made by one-hundred-plus million on him that he will attempt to satisfy by singing for 30 minutes to those people, who for the most part are not fans of his, and who for the most part may not have not even been aware of his existence until he will begin singing. And to top it all off, he will have to pull it all off in mid-40 degree weather. What could be more intimidating than that? From an artist like Mars’ point of view, there could actually be something else: the mega-ultra-uber stars that have preceded him on the NFL stage, stars such as Beyonce, Prince, U2, Madonna, and Janet Jackson. And in addition to the footsteps he will be filling like it or not, Mars will even be joined onstage by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band that can lay arguable claim to being one of the top 25 bands in history that should be seen live.
Mars is quite convincingly unfazed by it all. He began rehearsing at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium only two days ago in preparation for the show. A performer’s performer, he seems to be more concerned about the cold weather than any other ego-related issues such as measuring up to past performers or using a lot of high-tech props to dazzle the mega-audience that will be in attendance. At the halftime show press conference, Mars simply and logically pointed out that the cold would be an issue and, showing some light-hearted humor about the situation, compared the microphone to a popsicle. When a reporter asked about whether there would be any spectacles in his act, Mars was unmoved: “I don’t do trapeze and all that stuff.” Mars added that he hopes to get people smiling and dancing. It would appear that Mars feels no obligation whatsoever to mold his performance or style to any preconceived notions of what a “Super Bowl halftime show” should be like.
While Mars winningly expressed his gratitude for being chosen to play on the prestigious NFL stage and revealed that he “feel[s] like a new artist,” his gracious comments actually underscore the fact that he is anything but new to the music biz. He has been nominated for 18 Grammys and has won two. And one of those Grammys was won this year, no less. In 2014, he was awarded Best Pop Vocal Album for Unorthodox Jukebox. The American singer-songwriter and record producer singer has had five singles shoot to No. 1 faster than any man since Elvis Presley. Ironically, it is the people who would be impressed with that statistic who are most likely to question how Mars nabbed the Super Bowl halftime show. The young ones already know quite well who Bruno Mars is. Those watching Super Bowl XLVIII will soon know how talented, self-possessed, and confident Bruno Mars is as well.
By Donna Westlund