It will be a brave entertainer who accepts the invitation to perform the halftime show at the 2014 Super Bowl.
Beyonce arose from beneath the stage amidst flames and smoke to deliver a performance Sunday that was at once a call to rise up and dance and proof that she has the ability to wow a stadium and broadcast viewers with the sound of her voice – no prerecorded backing track needed.
Clad in a black leather and lace corset with removable miniskirt, Beyonce’s Super Bowl outing may have lacked the out-sized spectacle of Madonna’s Egyptian inspired headdresses, Vogueing and endless parade of speical appearances by artists including MIA, Nicki Minaj and LMFAO in 2012, but what it excelled with was an onslaught of foot-thumping rythms, gyrating dancing and full-throated vocals.
“Crazy in Love’s” staccato beat, 120 shimmying backup dancers and a jamming all-female band set the pace as Beyonce pranced between two 20-yard neon-lit facial silhouettes that comprised the stage area. “Till the End of Time” followed, executed before a giant LED screen.
"I'm so anxious," Beyonce said during a press conference Thursday of the pressure surrounding Sunday’s performance. It was at the same event she revealed she used a backing track at the recent presidential inauguration but promised her Super Bowl performance would be "absolutely live."
Any lingering anxiety was well hidden when the superstar was joined onstage in New Orleans by Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland for a much-anticipated Destiny's Child reunion. The group performed a medley of their hits including “Bootylicious,” “Independent Woman” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” - which is a solo Beyonce hit.
There had been plenty of speculation regarding special guests, including reports of the Destiny's Child reunion, though Williams had previously denied the possibility saying she would be in Washington, D.C. performing in the touring version of the Broadway hit "Fela.”
Taking solo control of the stage once more, Beyonce ended her halftime set - which lasted just over 13 minutes - with “Halo,” encouraging her legion of fans to join her in voice.
Whether the “Countdown” singer set a new viewing record remains to be seen.
Last year, Madonna's halftime performance was the most-watched Super Bowl halftime performance ever, with an average of 114 million viewers. It garnered more viewers than the game itself, which was the most-watched U.S. TV event in history.
The black leather costumes for Beyonce's extravaganza - as well as Williams' - were created by New York-based designer Rubin Singer. Rowland's bodysuit was by Emilio Pucci.
Opening the evening’s entertainment proceedings was Alicia Keys, who played the piano as she softly sang "The Star Spangled Banner,” the majority with her eyes closed. Her publicist said the performance was live.
Before Keys took her position at the grey grand piano, Oscar- and Grammy-winner Jennifer Hudson performed "America the Beautiful" with the 26-member Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus. All wore green ribbons on their shirts- green and white being the school’s colors - in honor of the 20 first-graders and six adults who were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage.