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Viewers Decry Mark Ronson’s Unplugged SB50 DJing, Forgetting Halftime Is Never 100% Live

Ezra Shaw, Getty Images
Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

Last night’s (February 7) Super Bowl 50 saw an inspired halftime show: Beyonce  somehow surpassed impossibly-high expectations with a ferocious performance of her African-American empowerment anthem “Formation,” Bruno Mars delivered in equal measure, solidifying his reputation as a stellar live act with minimal screen time. Coldplay were also there, reminding viewers of epic halftime performances of years past with help from a video montage. The show, overall, was a good one, and yet some viewers are miffed that it wasn’t 100% live.

A Reddit user posted a photo showing DJ and “Uptown Funk” producer Mark Ronson using unplugged equipment, indicating aspects of the show may have ben prerecorded, as though this were a revelatory discovery. But the Super Bowl halftime performance is never 100% live because, logistically, it can’t be.

Back in 2014, the Red Hot Chili Peppers came under fire for clearly miming their halftime performance — even though the group did it on purpose. Bassist Flea detailed the decision in a post on the band’s official site, writing, “When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song ‘Give It Away’ at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL’s stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the T.V. viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.”

The group had reservations about signing on, having a no-miming stance when it comes to live performances, but “eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it.”

Flea’s letter to fans was something of an eye-opener for viewers — but, again, it’s nothing new.

“A lot of the (Super Bowl) bands want to play live, but you just can’t do it,” Super Bowl music audio supervisor Mike Stahl told the San Diego Tribune back in 2003. “The only reason they won’t be live is we can’t do a line check (of all the amplifiers and monitor speakers).  If you were going to do it live, it would take an hour to go through every instrument to make sure all the lines were perfect. So you have a live vocal to a canned track, simply because we don’t have enough time — we have 3 1/2 minutes to get the sound system set up (for the halftime show).”

Let’s try remember this for Super Bowl 51, okay?

Next: SB50: Celebrities React to Game, Halftime Show

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