SAN FRANCISCO — You have to understand that this part of the Super Bowl was once handled by the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band and the Grambling State University Marching Band, by Carol Channing and Walt Disney, by the Apache Belles Drill Team.
Like most things when it comes to the NFL’s biggest game each season, the halftime show has evolved over time.
First things first: You know a Coldplay song. You probably know more than one. You just might not realize it. But when the British rock band that has sold more than 87 million albums worldwide and has been nominated for 31 Grammy Awards since 2002 takes the field at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday to perform, you will recognize the sound and lyrics.
Question is, how many believe it’s the best setting to hear them?
Coldplay is passable. Some of its songs are really good. It’s safe, which the NFL loves. It won’t do anything crazy. It’s hard to have many wardrobe malfunctions with T-shirts and jeans.
Its lead singer (Chris Martin) was married to Gwyneth Paltrow and engaged to Jennifer Lawrence.
His kids are named Apple and Moses.
You know him.
But when the announcement came that Coldplay was the choice for such a pivotal moment (or at least 12 of them), the universal reaction was one big, giant yawn. Mellow, like a lot of Coldplay songs.
Is passable good enough for Super Bowl 50? Shouldn’t such an iconic game offer a similarly classic band from America?
The thing is, Coldplay just might work.
The NFL has gone out of its way to highlight all of its history leading to No. 50, and included in those efforts is the fact Coldplay will reportedly be joined by stars who offered some of the all-time best halftime shows.
Beyonce is in and so, too, reportedly is Bruno Mars for Sunday, meaning the easygoing style of Coldplay will intertwine with famous pop artists and also Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. A little past, a little present, a little future.
“We’ve watched all of the other halftime shows many times, and most of them are fantastic,” Martin said. “I think we’re going to try to celebrate those others and hopefully make a show as memorable as some of our favorites.
“Trying to make it the most memorable halftime show ever is not fair to everyone else who has done the show, who knows there is no bigger honor or privilege and who have put their life and soul into it.”
Other halftime collaborations have done well. This one might also.
You haven’t lived until you have attended the Super Bowl press conference for halftime performers. It’s a virtual smorgasbord of E! News and Entertainment Tonight for the TMZ culture, with all the predictable wacky questions.
Like the one from a female reporter on Thursday who first thanked the band for helping her through a terrible breakup years ago, then listed all the songs that aided in healing her broken heart, then asked how in the world Coldplay could pick just a few for the 12-minute show.
“We decided to play all our No. 1 songs and then work on filling out the other 10 minutes,” joked Martin.
For a band that doesn’t sit for many interviews, Coldplay actually killed it Thursday. Funny, entertaining, humble, the latter a quality not always mentioned when describing Martin.
There was also the reporter who requested a hug from Martin, a standard query of mine to UNLV basketball coach Todd Simon, and the James Corden correspondent who played the trumpet as part of his question.
Someone also asked why the band would want to play a Super Bowl halftime.
You mean besides the 100 million-plus viewers worldwide?
It might seem crazy — or just yet another money grab by the NFL, which it sort of is — but those lead acts that perform at halftime reportedly now pay the league to do so.
Makes sense. Think about it. Coldplay will receive what amounts to a 12-minute commercial at the same time it’s promoting a new album and with a concert tour beginning in March. Not bad, considering your average 30-second commercial during the game goes for around $4 million, meaning whatever check Coldplay writes the NFL should be returned millions of times over.
“When we found out it was us, we were staggered,” said guitarist Jonny Buckland. “It’s such a huge event. There is nothing bigger for a band. At first, we were blown away, and then we started to get to work. There was an awful lot of stuff to do.”
The four don’t know much about American football, leaving things at they will cheer for the … Denver Panthers. Martin joked that as long as LeBron James has a good game, all should be fine.
You know Coldplay. You have heard “Paradise,” or “Yellow,” or “Clocks,” or “Viva La Vida.”
Coldplay is good. It’s fine. It was formed in 1996 and will one day retire having sold 100 million albums.
It’s not Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks or Metallica or others that would have absolutely created a much bigger stir for a halftime stage that has featured the likes of Michael Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner and Prince and Madonna. It’s not what most expected and hoped for a 50th game.
But there is a chance the collaboration works.
It’s not a certain failure by any means.
In need of an expert opinion, I lobbed a call home to the 14-year old daughter, who is fairly sure the history of music began the moment Harry Styles was born: “I would have preferred One Direction,” she predictably said. “Coldplay is cool, though. I like the song ‘Paradise.’ They’re more for older people though, like college kids.”
Shoot me now.
Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney