The Super Bowl is arguably the most watched event every year in North America. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on not just the athletes but also the musical act chosen to perform during the big event. This year, Bruno Mars and his selected guests, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, will the face the greatest challenge of their careers as they are set to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. With over one hundred million people watching around the world, gigs do not get much bigger than this.
During most of the extravagant halftime show’s first decade, the musical act would be a simple college marching band. As the game grew in popularity, so did the elaborate nature of the mid-game performance. During the Super Bowl’s second decade, the show would begin to take on the form it has today. In 1976, the choreographed musical dance group Up With People performed at their first of four halftime shows, the most out of any act. The group played covers of popular songs while a giant dance group moved to the music. In the early nineties, in effort to fight back against the growing popularity of the counter-programming offered by rival networks, the halftime show began to bring in the top music acts in the world.
It began in 1993 with what many consider still to be the halftime performance to beat. When Michael Jackson stood motionless in the middle of the field while thousands of screaming fans rushed to welcome him, a new dawn was born. In 1997, the tradition of having multiple artists perform began with ZZ Top, James Brown and The Blues Brothers taking the midfield stage. The multiple artist act came to a hiatus following a performance by P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson in 2004. As many remember, there was a wardrobe malfunction at the end of Justin and Janet’s performance of Timberlake’s song Rock Your Body. Timberlake had accidentally torn Jackson’s dress to expose her nipple to the millions watching around the world. After the wardrobe malfunction, the show went back to being a single artist show for six years.
Mars and company will certainly have a tough challenge ahead of them as some of the greatest musical acts ever recorded have played the Super Bowl halftime show. In just the years following the nipple scandal of 2004, acts like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, The Who and The Rolling Stones took midfield by storm and delivered a performance they can hang amongst their best. In 2012, Madonna was joined by Cee Lo Green and others to performed some of her biggest hits at what is consider the most watched Super Bowl halftime event in history with 114 million tuning in. The following year, Beyoncé performed a series of her smash hits before reuniting with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to sing a pair of songs from their days back in Destiny’s Child. The performance went down as the second most viewed halftime event following Madonna’s the year previous.
Arriving at Metlife stadium on Tuesday, Mars has already been tweeting photos of the complex in eager anticipation. The 28-year-old singer songwriter just picked up his second Grammy this past Sunday. Mars will see if he can continue his roll this Sunday when he tackles the greatest challenge of his career at the Super Bowl halftime show.
By Benjamin Murray