NEW YORK — Bruno Mars says he feels honored the NFL is letting him perform at the Super Bowl halftime show even though he’s still a budding artist.
“I feel like a new artist,” Mars said at a news conference Thursday. The “NFL is such a prestigious stage … and I’m so grateful for that.”
Mars will hit the field Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks play the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The pop crooner debuted on the mainstream music scene in 2010 when he released his friendly pop debut, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” which featured the No. 1 hits “Grenade” and the Grammy-winning “Just the Way You Are.”
Mars, 28, said he started rehearsing at the stadium two days ago and cold weather will be an issue.
“It’s like the microphone turns into a Popsicle,” he said. “We’re getting some heaters on everything.”
The singer told the audience at the Rose Theater in the Time Warner Center that he hopes to “get people dancing, get people smiling” with his performance. He was in good spirits Thursday, earning laughs from the crowd.
When asked if he would reveal any surprises, he said: “I’m going to give T-shirts away after the show.”
When a reporter asked if he would sing in Spanish, Mars — who is half Puerto Rican — dramatically turned his head and shoulder and in an erotic voice said, “Si!”
Mars is one of the youngest artists to perform during the halftime show, following recent performances from Beyonce, Madonna and the Black Eyed Peas, who flopped in 2011.
He says while there’s pressure, “I ain’t scared!”
Mars was named Billboard’s top artist of 2013, and his latest album, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” won the best pop vocal album Grammy Award this week. He has connected with fans of all ages, his R&B-pop sound has become a staple on radios around the world, and his live shows are critically acclaimed.
Mars has written and produced songs for artists including Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber and CeeLo Green. The singer, who grew up in Hawaii, said chasing his dream wasn’t always easy.
“Don’t let anyone ever try to stop you. That’s what I had to face when I moved up to California. Nobody knew what nationality I was and that was such a big deal I guess in the music industry, that we don’t know who to sell these records (to) or what radio stations (should play them), and a lot of people were trying to tell me, âYou’re too unorthodox,’ ” he said. “If you got your head on straight and focus on what you do and practice your craft, then you have nowhere else to go but up.”
Mars will be joined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers — the first act that came to his mind when he thought of collaborating on the Super Bowl stage.
“They’re a soulful band, not just musically, but as people,” he said.
Opera singer Renee Fleming, who will sing the national anthem on Sunday, said she’s feeling the pressure, but is also excited.