With Levi's Stadium still under daylight, Coldplay did its best during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show to convince everyone that it really was the star of the production. And for a few minutes, at least, it succeeded. The first half of the mini-concert was all about Chris Martin, surrounded by his band and what seemed like hundreds of functioning extras.
Martin started out on the field among said extras, singing a little bit of the early Coldplay jam "Yellow" and then segueing into the much more bombastic "Viva La Vida" as he took the center stage. The second song, which featured a colorful string section on stage, ended quickly when the frontman made his best Bono-esque proclamation: "Wherever you are, we are in this together!"
Cue a large band marching onto the field as Coldplay offered up two newer tunes, the sway-worthy "Paradise" and last year's disco-fied single "Adventure of a Lifetime." During all of this, Martin seemed more interested in broad movements and fan handshakes than on-point vocals. But, hey, at least he was singing live, right?
Just when we felt a tiny yawn beginning to form, the opening notes of "Uptown Funk" perked the whole affair right up. There was Bruno Mars, surrounded by dancers, re-creating the street-dancing vibe of his and Mark Ronson's joyous music video. Mars punctuated the song's verse and chorus with a James-Brown-by-way-of-MC-Hammer dance break.
We all know, though, that not even Mars could approach the gravitas of the performer to come. Cut to Houston's own Beyoncé on the field, delivering the hot-sauciest lines of the spankin' new single "Formation" and slaying all that intricate choreography with at least two dozen dancers.
The "Formation" performance certainly lived up to all the hype, but it couldn't last too long, because Bey had to join her opening acts on stage for the grand finale. First she and Bruno engaged in a little Grease-Live-style back and forth as their respective tunes were mashed together. And then it was up to Martin to preside over a quick-clip tour of past Super Bowl halftime shows. He worked lines from Prince and others into his final vocals, and then linked back up with Bruno and Bey for a show-ending huddle.
For a few seconds after the extravaganza ended, we thought of Coldplay and its valiant attempt to compete with its guest stars, the most exciting performers in the biz. But then a commercial for Beyoncé's world tour aired, and all memories of Chris Martin were swept away. She'll be at AT&T Stadium May 9.
About the Anthem
Dressed in a conservative (for her) red sparkle suit — with a touch of glam'ed up, glittery eye makeup — Lady Gaga delivered the most Whitney-fied National Anthem that she could muster. She injected plenty of diva-esque vocal runs into "The Star-Spangled Banner," not so subtle nods to Houston's game-changing 1991 Super Bowl rendition. Fortunately, Gaga's voice is more than strong enough to handle the challenge. Accompanied by a pianist, Gaga received a hearty reception from the stadium crowd, although their biggest applause was reserved for live video footage of service members in Afghanistan. Speaking of the military, a choir with representatives from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces sang "America the Beautiful" before Gaga made her entrance. Oscar winner Marlee Matlin was on hand to sign both patriotic tunes (although the cameras didn't stay on her for long).