LOS ANGELES -- Bruno Mars may have been locked out of heaven, but it’s looking like he’ll have a ticket to the Super Bowl.
The crooner is expected to be tapped to perform at the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVIII next February, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. An announcement could come as early as this Sunday.
Neither the NFL, which produces the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show, or Fox, which is carrying the Super Bowl this season, would comment. An NFL spokesman would only jokingly say that Janet Jackson and Miley Cyrus have been ruled out as performers.
If he gets the gig, Mars better bring his winter coat or at least a warm sweater. This year’s game is being played in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The New Jersey locale would seem to require a homegrown act. However, Bruce Springsteen has already played the Super Bowl and Bon Jovi is in disarray after the exit of guitarist Richie Sambora from the band.
Mars might not be at the mega-star status of recent headliners like Beyonce and Madonna, but he’s solidified himself as a scene-stealing performer - as indicated by his recent performances at MTV’s Video Music Awards, the Grammys and Billboard Music Awards.
A consummate performer, the singer-songwriter effortlessly harnesses the old school pizazz of James Brown, Prince and Elvis, who he cut his teeth impersonating as a kid, with a shimmering pop lilt that makes him an undeniable live force.
His current Moonshine Jungle tour, which packed Staples Center for two sold-out nights this summer, showcased Mars at the top of his game. It was arena-worthy thrills without some of the go-to frills that his peers rely on to fill seats (forget backup dancers and acrobatics, Mars and his spectacularly charming eight-piece band do all of the heavy lifting onstage).
Being trusted with the halftime show makes good on the promise Mars has shown in his young career. Having crafted a slew of ubiquitous hits for other acts with his production crew, the Smeezingtons, Mars finally stepped into the spotlight with his solo debut, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,“ that came armed with a smattering of No. 1 pop tunes like “Grenade“ and “Just the Way You Are.“
His sophomore album, last year’s “Unorthodox Jukebox,“ has sold more than 1 million records since its release in December, and chances are his smash “Locked Out of Heaven“ will warm up the chilly stadium.