Coldplay may be the first Super Bowl Halftime Show headliner of the modern era to get eclipsed by its guests.
The British quartet — best known for thoughtful soft rock like “Clocks” and “The Scientist” — was well on its way to creating one of the sweetest halftime shows ever, with a football field filled with marching bands and dancers carrying paper flowers during “Adventure of a Lifetime.” Coldplay singer Chris Martin had already announced, “Wherever you are, we’re in this together,” as the stage filled with kids playing stringed instruments. It was all very nice.
Then, it seems, producers felt the need to return the show to the pros. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson rolled out a groovy version of “Uptown Funk.” Beyoncé showed up on the field, doing “Formation,” the surprise single she released Saturday. And soon, she and Mars and their troupes of dancers were involved in a fierce dance off.
That wasn’t enough interference, though. For the finale, Martin began playing the instrumental opening of “Clocks,” while video highlights from previous halftimes showed, seemingly to point out how this one wasn’t quite as exciting.
While the band played “Fix You,” Martin began singing bits of U2’s “Beautiful Day,” Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women” with help from Beyoncé and Mars, before winding up on Coldplay’s “Up and Up.”
It was awkward to say the least, though it should whet the appetites of people to see what Coldplay can actually do, as it embarks on a worldwide stadium tour promoting “A Head Full of Dreams,” including shows at MetLife Stadium on July 16 and 17.
In many ways, Lady Gaga’s surprise played out more successfully, offering a huge, emotional version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the top of her range. Her gorgeous, powerful version shone as brightly as her conservative red-spangled pantsuit.
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Coldplay, on the other hand, provided exactly what was expected from them. The band is known for subtlety — something that works fine during their full show, but doesn’t necessary play well for 115 million or so during a show known for bold statements.
It was Beyoncé who ultimately got the last word. Immediately after the halftime show, she announced a stadium tour of her own, including a stop at Citi Field on June 7.