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Coldplay, Beyonce heat up ‘safe’ halftime

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Super Bowl halftimes changed forever in 2004, the day the Carolina Panthers made their Super Bowl debut in Houston.

That was the year of Janet Jackson’s costume malfunction, an embarrassment so stinging to the NFL’s carefully cultivated apple-pie wholesomeness that the league took over producing the halftime show itself.

Super Bowl 50 marked 12 years of “safe” halftime shows and the production hewed the straight and narrow with the British rock group Coldplay sharing the stage with Beyonce, Bruno Mars and the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.

For the golden anniversary edition of the show, Beyonce was chosen to represent the past (she was the headliner in New Orleans when the lights failed in 2013) and the youth choir was chosen to symbolize the future.

Their stage for the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show was surrounded by 2,000 black-clad extras coached to emote energy and look delighted, a living prop used in recent programs.

Beyonce struted to her new single, “Formation,” which was released only Saturday, then faced off against Bruno Mars in rousing rendition of “Uptown Funk.”

Chris Martin of Coldplay launched the show with a few lines of their hit “Yellow,” then went to “Viva la Vida,” “Paradise” and “Adventure of a Lifetime” as salvo after salvo of fireworks fogged the air above Levi’s Stadium.

A video salute to great halftime shows included scenes of Michael Jackson’s 1993 appearance, the one that began the long run of superstar acts at halftime. His finale included 3,500 children singing “We Are The World.”

Other artists from Super Bowl performances who were saluted included Paul McCartney, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones and Whitney Houston performing her memorable rendition of the national anthem – many consider it one of the best presentations of its age – in Tampa in 1991.

Before kickoff, Lady Gaga – clad in a glittery crimson pants suit that matched her glittering eye makeup and red-white-and-blue Gucci heels made by the company’s creative designer Alessandro Michele – belted out “The Star Spangled Banner” with measured elegance, rising from a soft open to a thundering finish.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs