By Jeff Miers
News Music Critic
Well, she certainly wasn’t lip-synching. Beyonce played the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show, and her appearance, at the midpoint of a game during which emotions ran high, brought a feminine touch to a testosterone-fueled party. She very well may have blown a main fuse, too; the power at the Superdome in New Orleans went out shortly into the third quarter. A coincidence? Yeah, probably. But maybe not.
Make that a decidedly feminine touch, now that you mention it. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Beyonce’s halftime performance, aside from the astute blend of choreography and visual effects, was the fact that every dancer, musician, and guest artist appearing on the stage was a woman. That’s right — no men, not a one. This was both interesting and cool, but was it a statement?
I hope so. Though I’m not exactly sure what the statement might be.
The all-women rules meant that Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, didn’t make an appearance either. That was the most hotly rumored possibility during the week running up to the Super Bowl, followed in close second by the possible reunion of Beyonce’s first group, Destiny’s Child. The latter did indeed happen, as the star’s former group-mates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams arrived on platforms that shot up from beneath the stage, to rapturous applause.
The Destiny’s Child reunion was nicely done, Rowland’s and Williams’ harmonies mixing beautifully with Beyonce’s, as they always did. “Single Ladies” was the peak of the reunion mini-set. Beyonce sought praise for her cohorts, got it, and seemed eager to move on — surely the 12-minute time limit coming into play.
Early on, during “Crazy In Love,” the spotlight swerved to Beyonce’s right, and centered on guitarist Bibi McGill, who took a solo while her guitar shot sparks from either end. This was pretty awesome. Of course, it was awesome when Ace Frehley of Kiss did it back in 1976, too.
Particularly breathtaking was the stage itself. Shot from above, the layout revealed lights forming a male and female face, aimed directly toward each other, though not touching. This was striking, as was another from-above shot revealing Beyonce on her back, surrounded by video projections of similarly clad dancers mimicking her moves. (The star was dressed in a black leather bodysuit with lace trim, ankle boots with six-inch heels, and knee socks.)
The choreography, the visual accompaniment, and the pace of the show with hits like “Love On Top,” “End Of Time” and “Baby Boy” running together in a rapid-fire medley — were flawless. Musically, the high point was the Destiny’s Child mini-set, with “Bootylicious” and “Independent Woman” framing the aforementioned “Single Ladies.”
As Super Bowl Halftime performances go, this one certainly had its merits. An energetic, fast-paced, and gorgeously illuminated set seemed to thrill the crowd. It all whipped by in a blur, but Beyonce was able to pack an awful lot into her 12 minutes, and the well-rehearsed show certainly presented a spectacle.
All told: An A for the choreography, an A for visuals, an A for Beyonce’s ability to sing soulfully while performing a ceaseless series of complex dance moves.
But only a C+ for the music, which failed to differentiate itself from run-of-the-mill 21st century pop-R&B.