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Super Bowl XLVII: Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers Surprising Highlights of Boring Game

Going into last night’s Super Bowl, not even Bruno Mars’ grandma would have predicted the halftime show would outshine the game itself. After all, we had the Denver Broncos, the league’s best offense, facing off against the Seattle Seahawks’ top-ranked defense, and ex-jocks and number crunchers supposedly schooled in such matters promised a tight one.

But this was no unstoppable force hitting an immovable project. Peyton Manning and the Broncos were more ‘My Little Pony’ than ‘Warhorse,’ and the Seahawks came into New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium with sharpened talons. By halftime, the Hawks had shot ahead 22-0, en route to a 43-8 victory, and that left Mars and special guests the Red Hot Chili Peppers to pick up the slack and give 100 million bored-ass people a reason to stay tuned.

Fox had to have been pleased with what Bruno and the boys delivered, though Anthony, Flea, Chad and that new guy that sorta looks like John Frusciante only deserve about one-sixteenth of the credit. The rest goes to Mars and his ace show band, the Hooligans, who opened with ‘Locked Out of Heaven,’ ‘Treasure’ and ‘Runaway Baby,’ a trio of sweaty funk-soul pop pastiches written by Mars after years of studying James Brown and Michael Jackson.

By imitating these and other artists everyone loves and blending their styles seamlessly and with undeniable skill and conviction, Mars has built a glitzy, inoffensive stage act perfect for the Super Bowl. The sponsors at Pepsi didn’t even need to spring for gold lame suits — dude packs his own.

The Chili Peppers — at least a decade beyond the point of being big enough to headline the halftime spectacular by themselves — were merely serviceable by comparison, and even the ever-frantic Flea looked tired next to Bruno and his crew. Maybe the band felt disheartened to have flown all the way across the country to punch in for one measly number, a Mars-assisted run-through of ‘Give It Away,’ a song Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson probably dug in elementary school.

Even if they didn’t exactly reaffirm their relevance, the Peppers deserve props for trying to keep pace with musicians many years their junior. To the extent they pushed themselves to their physical limits and made a valiant effort to seize the moment and go for glory and do all those things you’re supposed to do on football fields, they fared way, way better than the Broncos.

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