Was Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance really that good?
I was a little bit confused yesterday, watching Beyoncé’s performance at the Super Bowl whilst reading an amazed Twitter feed that seemed to be in awe of the singer’s efforts. Was it really that good?
No, it wasn’t. Beyoncé is no doubt an incredible singer with an extraordinary stage presence, but when it comes to judging her, the world appears to be somewhat blinded by the idea of Beyoncé: the cute, politically correct, all-American democrat with the girl-next-door quality, who sings inoffensive love songs and writes love letters to Michelle Obama. She’s got just the right amount of street cred – courtesy of her husband – and just the right amount of conservative Middle American relatableness, making her the most un-dislikeable artist in the world.
When Madonna – the eternal enfant terrible with her bitchy attitude and her hard-hitting ideas about sexual liberation – went on stage at the Super Bowl last year, she had been disqualified by so many people around the world before she even mounted the Egyptian litter she rode in on. When Beyoncé went on stage this year, she’d come out victorious before she even made it to New Orleans. Such is the world’s fixation with the former Destiny’s Child singer, who can do no wrong in the eyes of Western society’s provocation-phobic audiences. The safer the better, and Beyoncé’s always a willing purveyor.
But where was the epicness? And most importantly, where was the global message? I could have disregarded the fact that her show looked like it had been put together in less than a week (I mean, she didn’t even build a stage, let alone wear a nice costume) if Beyoncé had at least attempted to use her platform of 100-million-plus viewers to promote some sort of social message of, gee, I don’t know, global fellowship, charity, the environment or whatever cause might be on her mind, instead of just singing about independent women, who, on an ironic note, are pretty friggin’ vocal about their desire to get engaged.
Beyoncé’s catalogue may not hold a track in the vein of Michael Jackson’s Heal The World, his 1993 performance of which made for the strongest and most important Super Bowl Halftime show ever, but neither does Madonna and she at least worked her ass off to turn Like A Prayer into one instead. Not that it’s a Best Halftime Show competition, but whoever you are and whatever you stand for, there’s no excuse to not take advantage of 100 million viewers and encourage a greater cause than just yourself as an artist. Even if you’re already giving charity airtime to Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
The Super Bowl is a notoriously difficult gig to play. The stage is huge, you’ve got audiences on every side, the sound is kind of ugh, and there’s not a lot of time. And while Beyoncé brought a lot of energy to Louisiana, it was as if she hadn’t fully considered the size of the show she was putting on, or at least meant to be putting on. I get that she’s not as theatrical as a lot of other performers these days, but a light show and some back-up dancers just don’t cut it in 2013. Where was the spectacular entrance, where was the build-up, where was element of challenge?
Apart from Kelly and Michelle – who, if they didn’t feel like back-up dancers before, certainly got put their place – there was really nothing special about Beyoncé’s performance. And yet, the world loved it. At least according to Twitter and the reviews the halftime show received in the press Monday morning. It must be nice to be Beyoncé and be loved unconditionally without having to make that much of an effort when other, more interesting and legendary artists are scrutinised for their much bigger efforts. That would even be fine with me if it weren’t for the fact that this kind of mediocrity is seriously dumbing down the global quality level, not just of performances but of the minds of the audiences watching them. Greater expectations wouldn’t go amiss.
(Images via Getty)