Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show: An Echo of Change?

By Alex Cooper

Upon hearing the words “Super Bowl Halftime show”, many Americans expect a concoction of the best talent in pop music, choreography, and of course, added celebrity sex appeal. However, something about this year’s Super Bowl set a new bar for expectations; one with the potential to start a conversation beyond the Instagram comment section.

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For this year’s show, there were three acts featured. Coldplay was the opener and headliner for the much-anticipated halftime performance, choosing a nostalgic melody made up of their No. 1 hits and fan favorites that exuded a hopeful and lively tone. So, ya know, typical Coldplay stuff. Dressed in colorful but casual outfits, the band brought comfort to the stage with their songs “Viva la Vida”, “Paradise”, “Yellow”, and “Fix You”. Backed up by a colorful marching band of sorts and floral choreography (yes, floral), Coldplay’s set introduced the show with their usual motto of hope, love, and every other emotion Coldplay inevitably brings out of you.

Next up, Bruno Mars showed us all the familiar moves. While his Michael Jackson-esque dance numbers and gaudy costumes are certainly no stranger to his live performances, I’m pretty sure everyone in America rolled their eyes at yet another display of “Uptown Funk”.

Lastly, they don’t call her Queen Bee for nothin’, folks. Beyoncé showed up in her regular Sunday night uniform…or to us mere mortals, a gold-and-black leotard (a subtle homage to the late MJ), fishnets, and her signature voluminous, shiny, glorious head of hair. Pardon me if this becomes an opinion piece, but my god, the woman knows what she’s doing. Performing just hours after releasing another music video on Tidal, Bey showed Coldplay and Bruno up by debuting new material, single “Formation”, for her set.

So, the recipe of sex appeal, pop singles, and choreography was complete with a duet from Beyoncé and Bruno that featured swift camera cuts and some pretty intense dance moves (Bey almost fell at one point, emphasis on almost, as she saved herself with some killer footwork.)

Image courtesy of Los Angeles Times

While Beyoncé’s hits consistently ring a tone of girl power, this year she paid tribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement with backup dancers portraying political activist group the Black Panthers, decked in their likeness with berets and uniforms.

Bey’s latest single, “Formation”, has received major media attention for the accompanying video, where some perceive the settings and props as a way to further amplify the Black Lives Matter Movement. The video features resistance to police, with shots of the pop mogul on top of a police car, and a close-up of a sign reading “Stop shooting us”. Not only that, but she released this music video on Trayvon Martin’s birthday, which is also a day before Sandra Bland’s.

Whether it’s a political move or just Beyoncé adding to the conversation, her “Formation” song teamed with Coldplay’s hopeful tunes brought the halftime finale together in a united front, nodding off to the violence experienced within the last year by calling for peace and change.

The pivotal scene of the Super Bowl Halftime peaked when all three artists joined together for a rendition of Coldplay’s “Up & Up”, a song meant to uplift spirits from the football field to the flat screen in your living room. While it was hard not to view Chris Martin as a garage band member in the midst of pop-music’s familiar voices, (mostly due to the obvious difference in outfits) the three came together, optimistically harmonizing on hope and forgiveness. The show ended with a pan out to the crowd, who together spelled out the phrase, “Believe in Love”.

Although the Super Bowl Halftime show might not be the usual revenue for political discussion, it certainly left a taste of curiosity, if not a reflection of the last year in America, saturating viewers’ minds. Here, three artists, who couldn’t be more different in music genre, performance style, and vocals, all managed to make it work.

While they were paid an amount of money many of us would stroke out upon seeing on a check, they provided a message to all 110 million viewers: at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, who’s right or who’s wrong, but it’s the world we live in and the act of bringing everyone together for mutual peace, regardless of religion, race, or gender (or musical genre).

After a monumental year, featuring the legalization of gay marriage, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the emergence of a louder, stronger voice for femme-power, it’s only right to honor these revolutionary pushes toward change with the gentle nudge of unification in the dire times.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no doubt in my mind I’m glorifying the Halftime show, but as corny as this sounds, this was one of the best Super Bowl Halftime show’s I’ve seen because it wasn’t about who-ripped-off-who’s-shirt (cough, Justin, cough) or how late one dancer’s timing was (#LeftShark). Instead, it started a conversation about change for a better future.

And amidst a time of terrorism and trouble, sometimes you need to change the conversation; even if just for the Super Bowl Half Time show.

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