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Volume 24 No. 115
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Bruno Mars Wins Mostly Positive Reviews For Halftime, While Fleming's Anthem Lauded

Bruno Mars during his halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVIII "brought dynamism and an old-fashioned sense of showmanship to his Super Bowl blow-out," according to Jim Farber of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Mars' 12-minute performance "exuded a friendliness and ease so winning, it made the edginess or cool of some past Super Bowl stars irrelevant" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/3). In New Jersey, Jim Beckerman writes Mars gave "a high-octane, rip-roaring halftime show that aced what was widely perceived as a gamble." Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers "bonded sensationally" (Bergen RECORD, 2/3). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, “I thought Bruno Mars killed it last night. I thought he was fantastic. ... I thought he way exceeded expectations." Greenberg: "From the moment he appeared hitting those drums to the very last second, I thought he was absolutely sensational. ... He's got a little bit of James Brown and a little bit of Michael Jackson, and that's a dynamite combination” ("Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio, 2/3). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes this was "one of the worst and least memorable Super Bowls ever except for the sensational Bruno Mars halftime show" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 2/3). In Newark, Tris McCall writes under the header, "Bruno Mars Lights Up Halftime." Mars' set was "smart and accomplished; if it never rose to the level of spectacle, it was confident throughout, and made the argument that there's no special effect any better than a tight pop band" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/3).

MEMORABLE SET: USA TODAY's Brian Mansfield writes Mars "established his musician credentials quickly, starting his set behind the drum kit" (USA TODAY, 2/3). BILLBOARD's Kevin Rutherford wrote the finale of Mars' show was a "nice, touching moment, and a definite mid-tempo breather from the blink-and-you'll-miss-it, energetic showcase that had preceded it" (, 2/2). The AP's Chris Talbott writes there were "no flubs, no negative moments that will live on at the water cooler." Talbott: "And while you can argue about the entertainment value of watching shirtless Chili Peppers gambol about the stage, the 50-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famers managed to match Mars' energy in a brief appearance that was no less memorable" (AP, 2/3). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Scott Brown wrote Mars "delivered a fluid, frictionless set based on old-fashioned showsmanship" (, 2/2). In California, Ben Wener writes as "halftime shows go," Mars' performance was "definitely a cut above, a smart and sharply executed shift away from the overblown productions of the past three years" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/3).

TAKE THAT: In N.Y., Hardeep Phull writes Mars' "spectacle was a poke in the eye for the doubters who questioned the choice of halftime entertainment." The late addition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers "proved to be a smart move" (N.Y. POST, 2/3). In Phoenix, Joe Golfen writes under the header, "Bruno Mars Up To Super Bowl Challenge." Mars "proved more than capable of rocking a stadium full of football fans who might not have known exactly who he was" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/3). In DC, Chris Richards noted Mars during his final song "wore a triumphant smile, seemingly aware he was a risk well worth taking" (, 2/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Pia Catton wrote, "Looking back, the question now seems absurd: Was Bruno Mars enough of a star to carry the Super Bowl halftime show?" The real question is, "Was the Super Bowl a big enough show for Bruno Mars?" (, 2/2). In Buffalo, Jeff Miers writes Mars had "a lot to live up to," and he "almost pulled it off" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/3). In N.Y., Joe Caramanica writes Mars was "energetic and slick during this set, if not quite fun" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3).

NOT UP TO SNUFF? USA TODAY's Strauss & Chase write Mars' show was a "wholly unspectacular production that will join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The Who in the annals of instantly forgettable halftime entertainment." Mars' performance "didn't seem to have the impact of previous performers in that spot." Until the "always-game Red Hot Chili Peppers appearance, the show felt like a snooze" (USA TODAY, 2/3). In Denver, Adrian Dater writes there was a "distinctive lack of buzz" for the halftime show (, 2/2). In Detroit, Adam Graham writes the inclusion of the Red Hot Chili Peppers "felt forced, and it never quite gelled" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/3). In Miami, Armando Salguero writes Mars' show was "a hit-and-miss affair, with half of the social media world calling Mars the greatest thing since Michael Jackson and the other half wishing he’d trade places with Jackson" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/3). In San Diego, George Vargas writes under the header, "Bruno, Peppers So-So Super Bowl Showing." Mars' "brassy, old-school band performed with vigor and verve in their snappy gold lamé outfits." Yet, as Mars demonstrated, "he has yet to achieve the artistic depth that separates legends from promising newcomers" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/3). In Chicago, Greg Kot writes while Mars' set was "all good fun, and performed with exuberance and undeniable skill, it all felt a bit nostalgic and second hand." Mars "just doesn't carry the same cultural weight as many of his Super Bowl predecessors" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/3).

: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, "No one -- and I mean no one -- will ever do a better version" of the National Anthem "than Renee Fleming did on Sunday." It was "the best version ever done at a Super Bowl -- yep, it even blew away Whitney Houston's version in Tampa -- and the best that will ever be done." Jones: "Let's just bring Fleming back every year" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/3). In Pittsburgh, Mark Kanny writes Fleming's singing was "beautifully sustained and pitch perfect -- but did not try to compete with the emotional impact of pop divas who have sung it in years past" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/3). In St. Louis, Sarah Bryan Miller wrote Fleming "sang it straight: She didn't take liberties with the notes, although she did mess with the tempos." Fleming's "tuning was absolutely accurate and her high notes gleamed" (, 2/2). In N.Y., Zachary Woolfe writes Fleming's performance was "eminently operatic: confident, sensible and performed with ease, and without the strain ... that pop-diva belting entails" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/3). The AP's Talbott wrote singer Queen Latifah -- who sang "America The Beautiful" -- and Fleming "proved the perfect choices to sing" before the game. Both women are "accomplished performers and handled the pitfall-ridden material with relative ease in stirring performances that brought cheers from the crowd" (AP, 2/2).