Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I feel bad for Coldplay. Those four wonderful gents from England have gotten unjustly hammered and ridiculed on social media following their performance during halftime of Super Bowl 50, and it’s really not fair.
Is it fair that they shared a stage with Beyonce? No.
Is it fair that they also shared the stage with Bruno Mars? No.
But here’s the thing: Is it fair that halftime at the Super Bowl has become a venue that is no longer friendly to rock bands? Also no.
So, let’s start with that last bit. The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become a pop star’s playground and a rock band’s minefield. First and foremost, this is a TV production and any producer would very quickly tell you that as a draw, they’d much rather have throngs of dancers and choreography instead of the only choreography being a guitar player doing windmills to his or her guitar. It’s an excitement thing and energy thing. The rock bands simply can’t compete. They can try as hard as they want, but in modern times, rock ‘n roll has taken a back seat to pop when it comes to getting the people up out of their chairs. And in all fairness, it’s kind of been this way for a while. Now, it’s just abundantly clear.
The first rock band to play the Halftime Show was KISS, who played at Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999. They were flanked by Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder. No one remembers KISS’ performance, and I bet if social media existed in 1999, KISS would be getting the same pounding Coldplay is currently receiving. Two years later at Super Bowl XXXV, Aerosmith played, but just like KISS, they were flanked by pop stars: NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Nelly. The classic rockers weren’t an afterthought, but they definitely weren’t the main attraction.