Beyoncé, fresh off a mini-controversy surrounding her lip-syncing of the national anthem at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration, dazzled tens of millions of viewers around the world on Sunday with a Super Bowl halftime performance that was arguably far more exciting than the game's lethargic first half blowout. About midway through, Beyoncé was joined onstage for a brief reunion with one-time bandmates from Destiny's Child, and spent the duration of her 14 minutes in front of the world barreling into a frenzied collection of greatest hits, including "Crazy in Love," "Single Ladies," and, for the finale, "Halo."
Of course, the internet loved it, and could barely contain its effusive praise:
We've reached peak-Beyonce— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) February 4, 2013
Congrats on your MVP, Beyoncé.— ''Leslie Horn'' (@LesHorn) February 4, 2013
And plenty of people saw the performance as a direct retort to Beyonce's inauguration critics. Says Jon Caramanica at The New York Times:
[A]t the center of the Superdome field on Sunday night, she balanced explosions and humanity, imperiousness with warmth, an arena-ready sense of scale with a microscopic approach to the details of her vocals. Amid all the loudness were small things to indicate Beyoncé was answering her skeptics, quietly but effectively. [New York Times]
But was it the best Super Bowl halftime show ever? asks Nicole Sia at Spin. "Pretty damn close."
She stomped down a catwalk in a tight leather bodice and began with "Love on Top" a cappella — no, there would be no pre-recorded track this time, haters. She cycled through "Crazy in Love," "Never Let You Go," and "Baby Boy" backed by a band of badass ladies, her guitarist wielding a spark-spewing ax. The stage doubled as a screen, a gimmick she'd used previously at the Billboard Music Awards, and Beyoncé again popped, dropped, and set up shop in rows of mirror images of herself. Yes, with her legs akimbo, we witnessed a veritable wall of bumping Beyoncé crotches. [Spin]
Hold on, says Julia Turner at Slate. The cameos made by Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams were far too brief. And why did the group launch into "Single Ladies" — a definitive Beyoncé track — when other Destiny's Child chart-toppers like "Say My Name" were left untouched?
Beyoncé, don't shame Kelly and Michelle by dragging them back into the national spotlight and then making them sing the very song that shows what a culturally relevant force you still are, and what afterthoughts they have become! Be generous. Share the spotlight. You have so much. [Slate]
In any case, it was easily one of the best Super Bowl halftime performances ever, says Sasha Frere-Jones at The New Yorker, but the spectacle, at times, was overproduced. "Was it surprising that Beyoncé was amazing? Nope — she vaulted right into the top five halftime performers, along with Prince, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and U2." Still, many viewers may have been less than thrilled by the performance's "slight technical overload."
Blogger Anil Dash agreed:
Beyoncé's show's clearly among the all-time best for sheer Chinese Olympics-style spectacle. Prince still wins for musicianship & emotion.— Anil Dash (@anildash) February 4, 2013
Only other truly great halftimes: U2 in the wake of 9/11, Springsteen kicking ass & of course Michael Jackson permanently upgraded halftime.— Anil Dash (@anildash) February 4, 2013
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- 12 holiday gifts for the hardest-to-shop-for people on your list
Subscribe to the Week