The announcement of Coldplay as the Super Bowl 50 Halftime performer drew the Twitter mockery of football and music fans alike, claiming the band is too boring for the event and will put everyone to sleep. Whoever is in charge of making the pick knew they were taking a gamble on Coldplay, but it's a pretty sound one given the group's success and massive popularity, it's just a shame that bet won't play out because the band's new album, A Head Full of Dreams, is so mediocre.
This pick makes perfect sense if you're the people behind the scenes making the decisions. The halftime show in the past five years has been all about safe bets that simultaneously appear at least somewhat hip with the kids and appease the older crowd that actually have TVs. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, you have to play to your audience, and like Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune once said on the weekly podcast Sound Opinions, "it's nearly impossible to do anything nuanced or thoughtful on such a stage in 12 minutes."
But some picks have certainly been better and more progressive than others. The Black Eyed Peas fit the hip yet family-friendly formula but were a resounding flop, even earning Rolling Stone's pick for worst performance of all time. Bruno Mars was surprisingly great mainly because his whole schtick is the revival of a modernized funk sound that is easy to rally around. Katy Perry is Katy Perry and just so over the top that even if you didn't care for the vocals you remember that lion, and of course, left shark. Beyoncé as the headliner was possibly the most genius move they pulled yet, but you also have to figure it's a pretty safe bet to go with one of the world's best performers.
So why pick Coldplay? Well, for all the scorn the band receives, there's no denying the group is incredibly popular. Four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 is an impressive feat no matter who you are, not to mention numerous Hot 100 hits, even if only one song, "Viva La Vida," ever made it to No. 1 in the U.S. The also continue the Super Bowl tradition of a safe yet exciting act.
So, with the band dropping its latest and possibly final album, A Head Full of Dreams, back in December, this might have seemed like the golden ticket to success. A U2-tinged arena rock act that has a large catalog to draw from and a new potentially extremely popular album - the stage was set for success?
Well, A Head Full Of Dreams was relatively popular for about a week but it hasn't exactly captured attention beyond the UK, and the Super Bowl is an American sport after all. It's also the band's first full-length LP to fall short of No. 1 since 2002's A Rush To The Head (no thanks to Adele) and none of the singles are charting particularly well in the U.S. -- with "Adventure of a Lifetime" peaking at No. 39 on the Hot 100.
Sure, the Super Bowl always pairs big acts up with supporting roles, such as Katy Perry and Missy Elliot last year or Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers the year before. But, bringing back two former and very recent headlining acts to support Coldplay feels like kind of a slap in the face. They did it better than you ever could, it reads, and we'll miss them. So we brought them back to help.
This show could have been a real surprise win. All the football jocks laugh at the sensitive rock band, but then they come out and do a killer, high-energy show. But, given the lack of popular or critical support behind A Head Full Of Dreams, and a cast of artists likely to outshine one another, it's hard to imagine anything more positive than a lukewarm response to Sunday's show.