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On Thursday, Beyonce faced the press for the first time following her “controversial” non-performance at President Barack Obama's inauguration earlier in January. It had been widely reported that Beyonce, who is the featured artist for this year's Super Bowl halftime spectacle, lip-synched to a pre-recorded track at the inauguration gala.

Which, of course, begs the question – will Mrs. Jay-Z actually sing at the Super Bowl? In order to quash any speculation on the subject, Beyonce commenced her news conference by nailing “The National Anthem” to the wall. There could be no questioning this time – she was most definitely singing the thing, and incredibly well.

Still, if Beyonce doesn't actually vocalize in real-time during the halftime bacchanal, which is unlikely, this would not constitute the most embarrassing moment in Super Bowl halftime history. Not even close. In fact, the competition for the most cringe-inducing halftime performance is incredibly stiff.

In truth, very few artists fare well in this over-hyped, mega-viewed, 12-minute slot. It's either too short – for artists like Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen or Prince, who are known for offering marathon concerts that ebb and flow over time – or too long, for artists like Aerosmith, who foolishly teamed with Britney Spears, or Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who... well, you know the rest.

As contradictory as such a statement might seem, it's true, nonetheless – the Super Bowl Halftime slot is a loser's gig.

Very few artists are able to pull it off without appearing at least a little bit foolish. Interestingly, few consumers appear to be particularly bothered by this – they still flock to purchase the halftime performer in question's “product” in droves, come far-less-super Monday morning. According to a recent Nielsen Wire story, artists including Madonna, Black Eyed Peas and The Who all experienced major sales jumps in the weeks immediately following their halftime shows.

There have been exceptions to the halftime curse, naturally. U2, for example, made the most of its 12 minutes during Super Bowl XXXVI by transforming a football game into a massive U2 concert. Of course, Bono and Co. have become incredibly adept at performing to throngs of this size in the sporting arenas of the world over the years. The Rolling Stones, completely unsurprisingly, kicked up a (dis)respectable ruckus too, employing Super Bowl XL as an opportunity to debut a new song, “Rough Justice,” tucked squarely between evergreen stadium rockers “Start Me Up” and “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.” Prince may have been the very best of the bunch, as he stormed through a guitar-heavy set that peaked with a simply transcendent, albeit edited, take on “Purple Rain.”

Will Beyonce offer a performance on par with the above? In terms of showmanship, she's more than likely up to the task. There's also the possibility that her husband will show up for a duet, or perhaps a Destiny's Child reunion is in the offing?

But are her tunes legitimate classics, on a McCartney, Springsteen, or Prince level? That's a matter of opinion, and mine's a definite “Um, no.” Whatever happens, it's not likely to be boring. And hey, if it is, don't worry – it'll all be over in 12 minutes.

And then it's back to the battle of the brothers.



email: jmiers@buffnews.com