She twisted her hips in ways that appeared to defy the laws of physics, but on Sunday night, everyone was watching Beyonce’s lips.
After the pop uber-star admitted to lip-syncing the national anthem at President Obama’s inauguration, her performance during the big game in New Orleans may have been the most hyper-scrutinized halftime show of all time.
There was plenty to look at. Clad in leather and lace, the 31-year-old gyrated to a pyro-punctuated medley of hits – “Crazy in Love,” “Halo,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”– that last one, plus “Bootylicious,” with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, the marvelous millennial pop group that made Beyonce a household name.
Hearing the reunited threesome harmonize for a few fleeting moments during their 2000 hit “Independent Women” was the show’s musical highlight. And yeah, it sounded like the real thing. (At a press conference last week, Beyonce promised that she would “absolutely be singing live.”)
She knew the planet would be tuning in. Last year, Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance drew 114 million viewers — 3 million more than the game itself. And this is an audience that knows how to read a flat screen for the miniscule details. Football fans spend their Sunday afternoons watching balls bobbling off fingertips, cleats grazing blades of painted turf, knees buckling in slow motion.
Musically, Beyonce’s performance was serviceable, but physically, this was the sexiest Super Bowl halftime since 2004 when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s notorious wardrobe malfunction ushered in six consecutive years of classic rock mini-concerts from the likes of Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and the Who.
Heavy on smoke, strobe lights, impressive video screen trickery and explosive choreography, Beyonce’s Sunday night performance didn’t eclipse any of her rock-and-roll elders’, but it did improve on recent efforts from the Black Eyed Peas and Madonna. She ended her eye-popping gig with a humble bow and a warm smile.
READ MORE: Super Bowl live blog