There's no getting around it. Every year, those of us who don't even like football (and also aren't terribly interested in watching commercials, even if they are expensive) will still tune into the Superbowl, just like everybody else in America, because of the halftime show. Even this year, with the Bruno Mars/Red Hot Chili Peppers combination -- which was clearly going to be pretty fucking weird from the get-go -- we still tuned in. So was that nearly three hours of football and fancy ads worth it for the 12 minutes of music? Um. Meh. Kind of.
Look, part of the problem here came in trying to follow two great Superbowl halftime shows. Last year was Beyoncé (who isn't excited when they're watching Beyoncé?!) and, the year before, there was Madonna and a multitude of bendy acrobats and gladiator outfits. Those two performances are kind of hard to compete with, so Bruno Mars was up against it from the start. Was this better than the Black Eyed Peas in 2011? Of course it was! But so is getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick.
So what can we say about the Bruno Mars halftime show? Well, we can say that he is a flawless and fun performer and that he is a showman in the old-fashioned sense of the word. We can say that that gold jacket of his would look pretty good on our moms... fuck it -- everybody's moms -- and we can say that, surprisingly, a singer starting a Superbowl halftime show behind a drum kit is actually fucking awesome. The fact that the drums only came after a choir of grinning children holding hands is a great shame, but the passion that Mars displayed with those sticks almost made up for the gratuitous kids bit.
Post-drums, Mars got going on "Locked Out of Heaven" -- a super-feel-good song that is perfect to bounce up and down to. It is therefore, frankly, almost impossible to fuck up. And he didn't. The most interesting thing about it however, was wondering whether Mars and three of his band members would get into trouble for standing in a line and doing pointed (kind of creepy) crotch thrusts at the exact same time that the line "'Cause your sex takes me to paradise" was being sung. It's no middle-finger from M.I.A., but it was definitely... something. Or maybe everything else was so clean that this just seemed naughty in context.
Then Bruno and band did a bunch of side-stepping to the extremely non-offensive "Treasure," cutting it off mid-way through to launch into the upbeat "Runaway Baby" (complete with James Brown dancing). We think this was probably supposed to be a smooth segue into the Red Hot Chili Peppers doing "Give It Away", but, frankly, a Tetris expert couldn't get Mars and the Chili Peppers to fit together seamlessly. Given that fact, this worked about as well as it could have. It was slightly awkward, but not cringe-worthy. It was ... fine.
And while "Give It Away" was undoubtedly great party music last night -- especially when Mars and his band were jumping up and down in unison in the background -- we can't help but wonder if (the still-active) Red Hot Chili Peppers are sick to death of being best known for a song that came out in 1991. That shit's gotta hurt a little, surely? We're left to conclude that when you're immune to aging -- as the perma-shirtless Flea and Anthony Kiedis so clearly are -- it probably takes the edge off. (Did you see the abs on Kiedis? Dude is 51!)
After that injection of rock 'n' roll rowdiness, things wound down rather rapidly. The Chili Peppers left, Mars stood on a shiny disc and did a heartfelt rendition of "Just the Way You Are". Which was ... nice. Then some fireworks went off. Which was also ... nice. Then it was back to the football.
So no shocks, no fuck ups, no blackouts, no middle-fingers, and definitely no silver-plated lady nipples. Truly, Bruno Mars put on a very family-friendly, super-professional half-time show for the Superbowl XLVIII that no one on earth could be upset by. The levels of safety involved though, make us kind of hope Miley Cyrus gets the gig next year just to get some spice back.