The one major downside to being the headlining act for the Super Bowl halftime show is that you don’t really get to enjoy the Super Bowl.
Well, it’s a major downside if you’re a football fan. If you’re not, then it’s probably fine.
“I think we’re firmly split down the middle between those of us who know absolutely nothing about football, and those of us who know almost absolutely nothing,” Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland told a crowd of journalists at the Moscone Center this week.
Added frontman Chris Martin: “I think, you know, as long as LeBron James has a good game, things are going to be fine.”
Based on the way they handled their press conference, you almost wonder whether they should spend a few of the 12 minutes they’ve been allotted for their performance doing stand-up comedy. Except that wouldn’t leave much time for their hits. Or for Beyonce. Or for (reportedly, but not officially announced) Bruno Mars.
Though no one’s giving away any secrets, the general outline for Coldplay’s offering on Sunday is simple, vague and cryptic:
“Well, because it’s Super Bowl 50, (the NFL) said ... ‘Could you possibly try and include the past, and the present and the future?’” Martin said, seriously. “So the way we’ve done that is to look to the future by asking these kids from YOLA, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (to join us).
“And the way we’re honoring the past is by asking some of the people whose halftime shows we really loved (to also join us). Beyoncé’s of course is right up there, I think most people would agree. So we just thought that asking her would be appropriate.”
But enough with the straightforward, boring answers. Here are a few things Coldplay said, in jest, that Super Bowl viewers can expect from their highly anticipated halftime performance:
1. Regarding the set list, Martin said: “We decided we’d play all our number ones and then work out how to fill the other 10 minutes.
2. A reporter asked about Martin’s friendship with Beyoncé, and how their planning sessions have gone leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. The reporter: “What is the conversation like when you call up? Is it, ‘Hey Queen B, I want you in a red bodysuit and we’re gonna do this’? What is that conversation like?” Martin: “Just like that. I say, ‘Hey Queen B, I want you in a red bodysuit...’ Just what you said.”
3. Asked to predict what their “Left Shark” moment will be, Martin said: “We’ve trained them so well this year – all of our sharks. We’ve got Left Shark, Middle Shark, Front Shark, Back Shark, two Right Sharks and the Reserve Shark, in case one of the first sharks has a problem. In which case ... a Pepsi logo will be flashed on screen. Everything will shut down for two minutes while we replace whichever shark has messed up. There’s a delay on the timing, so no viewer at home will have any shark-based trauma. And that’s how we’re hoping to get around that thing.”
As for how Coldplay got the Super Bowl gig in the first place, Martin had a wry explanation.
“We started in Iowa three years ago. We had a bus – a small bus – and at that point, not many investors. We had barely enough money to afford one can of Pepsi. Pepsi stepped in; they were very sweet. They gave us a bigger bus, we got some stickers: ‘Coldplay for 2016.’ And then we just got there and we just worked our little butts off. And lo and behold, the voters of America said, ‘All right. You have a go.’ ”
And just like that, four guys who know absolutely nothing (or almost absolutely nothing) about football will help to celebrate the biggest football game of the year.
Pressed, they’ll even have a go at picking a winner.
“They have a Scottish kicker,” said drummer Will Champion, referring to the Carolina Panthers’ Graham Gano. “And Guy (Berryman), our bass player, is Scottish as well. So we feel a certain affinity with the Scots. I think we’ll go with the Panthers.”
Added Martin: “It’s the Denver Panthers that we definitely are rooting for, OK? So put that in your paper.”