“Wow, Amazing.” I believe those were the very words that escaped my lips as I watched Bruno Mars’ Super Bowl XLVIII halftime performance. I have super high standards for what I deem a great live performance and it’s hard to isolate and evaluate any one factor in a vacuum.
Pitch is affected by breathing, and breathing is complicated by excessive movement. Singers are instructed to stand still at an optimal posture for singing, but it would have been a lackluster show if Mars abided by all the technical rules. After entering on a moving platform, Mars drummed his heart out even before he uttered one note, which is no easy cardio feat. He also danced a good amount, showing off fancy footwork and gyrating his hips in line with his band. All of this affected his pitch at certain points where he lost his breath and delivered sharp or flat notes. The energy in the stadium, any butterflies Mars might have been experiencing backstage, or even the technical equipment could affect his ability to control his pitch. Though where pitch gave way a little, Mars made up for it tenfold with his energetic performance.
The performance overall was incredibly dynamic – a great arrangement of his original songs and a feature by the Red Hot Chili Peppers that took the audience on a journey of emotions. The first minute was a huge buildup backed by a choir and Mars on drums, followed by 5 minutes of high energy singing and dancing from a stage full of men in matching gold jackets. 6:15 into the show, Mars brought the audience down “a little bit softer now…” until he was at a complete whisper before bringing it back up to full energy (reminiscent of James Brown in the best way possible). The Red Hot Chili Peppers then took over, adding a great level of persity to the show. Mars ended with an amazing performance of “Just The Way You Are”, which was immediately preceded by a dedication video from servicemen and women. I don’t know about you, but I got chills, wanted to get up and dance, and nearly shed a tear, all in 13 minutes.
Bruno Mars is such an amazing talent – he has great mastery over his voice, even with all of the challenging factors involved in a super bowl halftime show. He supports his strong chest voice by dropping his jaw and opening his whole face, and his vocal inflections are smooth like butter. Note: in his last song, “Just The Way You Are”, he stands in place, with near perfect singer’s posture (with the exception for how he tilts his chin upward at the higher notes). And, I’ll add that it is no coincidence that this was the most perfect segment of his entire performance from a strictly vocal perspective.