The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show felt a lot like a coronation.
While untold millions watched what was happening on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Bruno Mars used the halftime concert to further prove to the world that he now ranks as the top entertainer in pop music.
He's been in the running now for a few years, racing against top competitors like Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, but he's definitely starting to pull away from the pack.
All the reasons for his magnificent success were on display during the halftime gig, which followed two quarters of the Seattle Seahawks dominating the Denver Broncos. He was charismatic, likable, clean-cut, tuneful and entirely ready to perform for the cameras. It was one of the biggest music moments of the year, with viewers tuning in from Burlingame to Beijing and beyond, and yet Mars handled it with apparent ease. If he was nervous, it certainly didn't show.
He opened the show on the drums, which was a clever, rhythmic move, pounding away in a gold jacket, white shirt and black tie. He then joined his fellow band members, all in matching garb, and locked right into the upbeat smash "Locked Out of Heaven," which was nominated -- but lost -- in two of the four major general-field categories at last weekend's Grammy Awards. (It lost to Lorde's fantastic "Royals" for song of the year and Daft Punk's ubiquitous "Get Lucky" for record of the year).
He'd then croon through "Treasure," another top 5 hit from last year, before moving straight into "Runaway Baby." He sprinkled in a bit of the Isley Brothers' "Shout," delighting the crowd with the famed "a little bit softer now ... a little bit louder now" bit. Then he basically moved out of the way and let the freight train that is the Red Hot Chili Peppers roll through the stage.
Yes, in case you were wondering, the Peppers' Anthony Kiedis and Flea did so without wearing shirts.
You just have to love those California kids.
The Peppers rocked "Give It Away," then gave the stage back to Mars for what would be the most touching part of the halftime show. Active military personnel, stationed away from home, were shown in videos, dedicating the next song to their loved ones. The song, of course, would be "Just the Way You Are."
Mars performs May 28 at Oracle Arena in Oakland and Aug. 15 at SAP Center in San Jose. For more information, click here.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.