As most readers know, the Super Bowl is the final of the National Football League in the US. Worldwide, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched sports broadcasts in any year, and it is frequently the most watched broadcast in the US. It’s no surprise that the Super Bowl halftime shows are a big deal, especially since 1991.
1991 is when big-name recording artists replaced marching bands and drill teams as the mid-game entertainment (starting with New Kids on the Block). Since 2010, the 13-minute show typically has a headline act with special guests. AZcentral reports that a 2021 study determined that the Coldplay-hosted 2016 show is the best show of the 21st Century.
According to AZcentral, OnBuy.com “surveyed 4,376 fans around the world on their favourite performances and collated YouTube views and like-to-dislike ratios to arrive at a fan index score”. Coldplay got 48 out of 60, Shakira & J-Lo (2020) scored 46, and Prince (2007) made 44. The lowest rated show in the survey is Maroon 5, with 16 points. It needs to be said that AZcentral shows surprise that the Coldplay “scored better than Prince’s iconic performance of Purple Rain during an actual downpour”
If the study was conducted today, there would be a new winner. 2022’s acclaimed Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige & Kendrick Lamar performance at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California, would come out on top. In just 10 months it has 153m Youtube views against Coldplay’s 113m in six years. The 2022 show broke with the tradition of having a headliner and quests – all the acts were headliners – but, judging from the reviews and the response on YouTube, the change paid off. Judge for yourself
For all but the most hip-hop or rap-phobic, that was an impressive show. Commenting on his Facebook page on the night of Super Bowl 2022, acclaimed author and veteran Rolling Stone Magazine writer Mikal Gilmore caught the moment: “I sometimes like the music and musicians who play the Super Bowl but I’m only occasionally wowed by the halftime shows …. In any event, maybe it’s because I particularly liked tonight’s artists and sounds, or maybe because this was exactly the right—if overdue—moment for a grand hip-hop representation before America, but tonight’s show was GREAT. [My wife] and I looked at each other when it was over and said, at the same moment, ‘That was the best ever!'”
In marked contrast to the OnBuy.com survey, which placed the Coldplay-hosted show as the best before 2021, Grazia Magazine rated the Coldplay halftime show as the most cringe worthy (Grazia 12). Alissa Thomas writes “Once upon a time in 2016, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars performed the Super Bowl in addition to Coldplay. That’s correct, in ADDITION. Coldplay was billed first and Beyoncé and Bruno joined them. … To this day no one is sure why this occurred, however, after killer performances from Bey and Mr. Uptown Funk, the show culminated in the three of them on stage together singing a Coldplay number. Martin’s performance looked more like a third wheel, or a rogue roadie that jumped on stage, or a competition winner. All awkward synonyms apply”.
Thomas’s assessment reflects the general critical response. Wikipedia summarises: “The performance received generally mixed reviews from critics, who complimented Beyoncé and Mars’ part of the performance but were critical of Coldplay”. Wikipedia gives a number of review excerpts to back up it’s summary, but I’ll give only one. The New York Times reported that Chris Martin “acted more as a stagehand than an actual performer” and concluded that Beyoncé was “the night’s true event”.
This is an appropriate moment to remind readers that critics aren’t always right. As 113m hits show, the Coldplay-hosted Super Bowl halftime show remains one of the most watched on YouTube, and that says something!
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