Superstar singer-songwriter Bruno Mars took the stage at Super Bowl XLVIII's halftime show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Sunday, Feb. 2, at MetLife Stadium. Despite the perceptibly odd pairing of acts, the performance was gripping and had several notable highlights.
The beginning was rather unexpected, when a number of children took the stage to sing the beginning of Travie McCoy's "Billionaire." Starting things off without either of the main attractions was bold, yet the excitement could only go up from there.
What came next was a sensational display of drumming from none other than Mars.
Following the introduction was an interlude of darkness and a spotlight cut to Mars rocking out on the drum set alone. In addition to being an outstanding vocalist, it was clear this man has some serious chops with the sticks in his hands.
The moving platform Mars was seated upon brought him to the main stage, where a slew of musicians joined him for his song "Locked Out of Heaven." All were dressed in gold blazers, black skinny ties and pants and white shirts, creating an awesome uniform look.
Unlike some performers, Mars was clearly not lip-syncing, which can sometimes be a turnoff for fans and musical purists.
Mars' vocals were top-notch, but the big question hanging in the air after his entertaining opening number was what role the Chili Peppers would play in the rest of the show. Instead of calling on the rock stars, Mars stuck with his own crew to perform his hit song "Treasure" and continued to crush it vocally.
After a medley of some more original tunes and popular classics, Mars dialed up the Chili Peppers, receding to the likes of a rapping Anthony Kiedis and Michael "Flea" Balzary's epic bass guitar skills at the forefront.
Kiedis and Flea brought serious, shirtless energy in an explosive rendition of "Give It Away"—a classic early tune—and the horns from Mars' band were added. Both bands were jumping up and down and getting the crowd heavily involved, making for an excellent show.
Perhaps the best highlight of the entire performance came immediately after.
Members of the U.S. military were shown paying tribute to their loved ones before Mars fired up his soulful "Just The Way You Are," which he performed on a single circular pad, with an epic fireworks display going off amid the action.
That served as an excellent conclusion to the booming spectacle that should go down as one of the better halftime performances in recent Super Bowl memory.
It can't be emphasized enough how much the 28-year-old pop star wowed as a vocalist, pouring an immense amount of emotion into the entire showcase and even leaving viewers—well, at least yours truly—wanting more.
The combination of the Chili Peppers and Mars was a bold risk that paid off, giving millions mainstream entertainment but with plenty of legitimate musicianship and talent on display.
Following up the memorable national anthem performance by Renee Fleming wasn't going to be easy, but this unlikely tandem got the job done to say the least.
Now it will be on the future halftime acts to emulate the raging success Mars and the Chili Peppers achieved on this Super Bowl Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.