Why would you ever have a Super Bowl without Beyoncé? Now that was a halftime show, and that is a star. This woman single-handedly blew out the power in the Superdome. No special guests, no costume changes – just Beyoncé, her heels, her thighs, her leather-and-lace corset and a freewheeling romp through her songbook, ignoring most of her proven crowd-pleasers just because she’s Beyoncé and Beyoncé can get away with doing whatever Beyoncé feels like doing. No “Countdown,” no “Say My Name,” no “Irreplaceable” or “Survivor” or “Run the World (Girls).” Yet the Queen B demonstrated why she is the great pop performer of our time, stomping and writhing in a swirl of multiple-Beyoncé holograms. So many Beyoncés onscreen – yet somehow, still nowhere near enough of them.
Bey came out singing a snippet of “Love on Top,” surrounded by her extremely weird new logo, showing two silhouetted Beyoncé faces kissing, Narcissus-style – it was like a mix of the logos for Yellow Submarine and the goth band Bauhaus. But the performance really took off with the rock & roll burlesque of “Crazy in Love,” as she busted out her collection of Paul Stanley finger-licks and lip-puckers and ass-slaps.
She also instigated an all-too-brief reunion of Destiny’s Child, bringing back old bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. (Although not LeToya or LaTavia. Maybe next year, gals?) Maybe it wasn’t exactly the full-on reunion fans were praying for – after one song about Beyoncé’s ass and another about independence, she shooed them back offstage in the middle of her most Child-like solo hit, “Single Ladies.” So what? Nobody ever said Destiny’s Child was a democracy – it’s a Beyo-cracy.
At least we got to see Kelly and Michelle get delivered onstage by way of that futuristic diva-launcher chute. And it was a thrill to hear them do “Bootylicious” and “Independent Women,” complete with a Charlie’s Angels soundbite from the late great John Forsythe, despite unfortunately ditching the original movie version’s immortal intro: “Lucy Liu, my girl Drew, Cameron D . . . and Destiny!” (And where the hell is Charlie’s Angels III already? It’s been 10 years since Full Throttle! Get cracking, Drew!)
Yet Bey didn’t need to share her stage with anyone – she didn’t even bring out Slash for what looked like the ready-made obligatory-Slash-cameo guitar solo. She ended on a daringly downtempo note with “Halo,” shamelessly begging for more of the crowd’s adoration. (“Everybody put your hands toward me – I want to feel your energy!”) Well, nobody ever accused the girl of not being into herself, yet as always, that’s part of why we love her – she’s so dutiful and sweet-natured, even her prima-donna excesses seem like a job she does strictly for our benefit. And as Super Bowl halftime blowouts go, she scored a triumph on the same level as Madonna last year, Prince in 2007, U2 in 2002 or the Aerosmith/Britney/Justin/Mary/Nelly throwdown of 2001.
It was the highlight of a Super Bowl broadcast that was full of bizarro musical moments. Stevie Nicks gave it up to gold-dust Clydesdales in a beer commercial featuring “Landslide,” which almost made up for Destiny’s Child leaving out the “Edge of Seventeen” guitar sample from last night’s “Bootylicious.” Alicia Keys rasped a sad attempt at the national anthem with the charred remnants of her once-magnificent voice. (But at least she remembered the words, right?) Psy turned “Gangnam Style” into an ad for pistachios, the Flaming Lips did a minivan ad and a fish sang “No Diggity.”
The actual game wasn’t bad, either. Sorry, 49ers. But there’s no question who the night belonged to: Beyoncé.