Beyonce will perform during the halftime show on Super Bowl Sunday. / Twitter
Beyoncé's camp isn't revealing many details about her much-anticipated halftime performance at Sunday's Super Bowl in New Orleans. But there are a few things we can be fairly sure of.
For starters, you're unlikely to hear the term "wardrobe malfunction" around the water cooler Monday morning. Nor should there be speculation about questionable words or gestures, such as the middle finger seen 'round the world last February - raised by M.I.A. in a seeming bid to steal the spotlight during Madonna's halftime show.
This year's main attraction is "somebody who's universally loved, with a sterling reputation," says Rolling Stone associate editor Andy Greene. "Beyoncé has done sexy, of course," most recently in a thigh-flashing promotional shot posted alongside rehearsal photos on her website Tuesday. "But she's always erred on the side of classy."
Greene expects "not a hint of scandal" - particularly since Beyoncé, at a news conference Thursday, addressed the brouhaha over reports of her lip-syncing the national anthem at President Obama's second inauguration. She sang the anthem for reporters, admitted she had used a prerecorded track last week and vowed to sing live Sunday at the Superdome.
"I have no reason not to take her at her word," Greene says. "It's definitely not worth taking that risk twice."
Other chatter has focused on what the overall production will be like. Greene anticipates "a spectacular (show) on par with something from Broadway or Vegas. That's been the trend lately, to make it a one-time-only event, like Madonna did last year, with bells and whistles."
That approach appears to have been a canny one: The halftime show typically attracts fewer viewers than the overall game, but last year, the reverse was true, with Madonna's set drawing 114 million pairs of eyeballs and scoring a 47.4 household rating, edging out averages for the game.
As for the set list, there's lingering talk that Beyoncé's old bandmates from Destiny's Child will join her (the trio released a compilation album Tuesday, with one new song, Nuclear), even after member Michelle Williams said in a radio interview that it wouldn't happen. (Williams is touring in a production of the musical Fela! - though, notably, she isn't scheduled to appear in it this weekend.)
Regardless, Beyoncé has no shortage of material to draw from. Alan Light, former Vibe editor and director of programming for the public television series Live From the Artists Den, notes that she can "fill the 14 minutes with massively successful songs and still have a bunch on the table." And she'll likely launch at least one new tune from her upcoming album, expected this year. "That seems part of the point of doing a thing like this."
Light notes that, at 31, Beyoncé is considerably younger than the average halftime performer and that, like Madonna, she represents "a move away from the male-driven classic-rock world, which seems to have worked from a ratings perspective."
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