After a year of controversy and violence being associated with the NFL, it was a good move to invite a soft-indie band like Coldplay to perform. However, with over 100 million viewers tuned in for football, amusing commercials and the halftime show, the artists used the platform of Super Bowl 50’s Pepsi Halftime Show for something other than just entertainment.
The show opened with Coldplay mashing their hit songs “Yellow” and “Viva La Vida.” The 68,500-seated Levi’s Stadium exploded in color, fireworks and flags, when the band transitioned into the song “Paradise.” Seemingly reflecting a scene from a celebration of the Indian festival of Holi, the crowd held up cards of yellow, orange and red. Young musicians from the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles performed alongside the band using blue, purple and green instruments. Sunbursts, floral umbrellas, bold colors and a tie-dye spectacle was completed with a stage of lit kaleidoscope flourishes.
Things got more exciting when Bruno Mars took the stage with MC Hammer-inspired outfits and signature dance moves to he and Mark Ronson’s 2014 hit single, “Uptown Funk.” The Hawaiian R&B-pop performer headlined the Super Bowl halftime stage two years ago at Super Bowl XLVIII. Bruno Mars was welcomed back on the halftime stage along with Super Bowl XLVII headliner and multi-platinum artist, Beyoncé.
The day before the performance, Beyoncé released her new song, “Formation.” The accompanied visual anthem — dubbed as a powerful affirmation of black pride — has caused a lot of talk in the media. The music video for the song opens with the singer squatting on a New Orleans police car that has sunk into the floods of Hurricane Katrina. Beyoncé pulled from pools of culture and shot out a politically-charged assertion of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The message is conveyed through a young boy dancing in front of riot-geared police officers, and graffiti spelling out “Stop Shooting Us.”
Beyoncé kept up the theme the next day during her Super Bowl performance; accompanied by a posse of dancers dressed like the civil rights group the Black Panther Party, Beyoncé marched onto the field and performed her newest song.
The set has sparked backlash from many members of society, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said that it was “outrageous” that Beyoncé attacked police officers the way she did.
Lately, a lot of musicians have been using their status and popularity to promote equality, social justice and change; notable artists who have taken up the cause are Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West, to name a few. Very quickly, we are becoming the generation to challenge social norms and pop culture is helping it pick up momentum and support a lot faster.
All in all, the halftime show from this year’s Super Bowl seems to be paving the way to social reforms thanks to those who performed in it. One can only hope that this continues next year and that society is able to embrace the message that Beyoncé and others have been trying to send us with their performances.
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