Beyoncé, our pop icon and guest star on the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show Sunday, just Michelle Williams-ed the shows actual headliner, Coldplay. Nowhere was it more apparent than when Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer and Gwyneth Paltrow’s consciously uncoupled partner, struggled to keep up with Queen Bey and fellow guest Bruno Mars as they strutted down the catwalk. A few times, Beyoncé even condescendingly placed her hand on Martin’s shoulder to make sure he hadn’t evaporated into the San Francisco sky.
It is quite obvious that producers had no faith in the original lineup, so at the last minute, they added the woman who put on the greatest halftime show of all time (an undisputable fact) and Bruno Mars. Coldplay, the last yellow Starburst that no one wants, just does not have the skill for the biggest music event of the year. Mid-tempo rock does not scream excitement or energy. Or maybe that is just me.
The segments performed by Coldplay, the Chinese takeout leftovers that you forgot about in your fridge for a week, prove what a truly dull show it would have been without the added star power.
The arrival of Bruno Mars, performing one of the biggest hits of the century, injected much-needed excitement into the show. It is like when you watch an episode from the last season of “Friends,” only to turn on one from the third season — the first one is completely forgotten.
Bruno Mars was only the build-up to the true main event — Beyoncé. And like only Beyoncé can do, she performed a song — the aggressive and irresistible “Formation” — that she had only released the day before.
Surrounded by a group of all-black female dancers, the reigning Queen of Pop truly proved herself to be the descendent of Michael and Janet Jackson. Even her outfit was a reference to MJ’s own amazing halftime show from 1993. Her stage presence and performance skills are really unmatched by anyone in music today, a fact amplified by the presence of Bruno Mars and Coldplay, that one person in your friend group you make sure to never hang out alone with.
While certain sects of white people are complaining about the “politicization” of Beyoncé’s performance, citing her references to the Black Panthers and the overt black pride, it really speaks to her power as an artist and star. The fact that country’s most important pop star used the halftime show to make a statement of black pride (“I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” she proclaimed) at a time when race relations have deteriorated is incredible.
Disappointingly, Lady Gaga, who had slayed the national anthem earlier in the evening, did not show up to perform “Telephone.” Imagine if that had happened.
All too soon, Beyoncé’s display of raw talent and star power was over, replaced by the sappy return of Coldplay, the Kidz Bop remix of “Anaconda.” The finale turned out to be a bizarre look back on previous halftime shows (Janet Jackson and Madonna were both left out, however, in what I am sure was an unintentional snub). In an unexpected move, the San Francisco crowd erupted into rainbows, with “Believe in Love” blasted out from the audience. Gay pride and black pride, both controversial things for some reason, at the halftime show? Who would’ve thought.
The halftime show really should be just named the Beyoncé Show. No one has used the platform more effectively than her. From debuting new music to announcing new tours to statements of black pride, Beyoncé made the halftime show serve her, not the other way around. She relegated the show’s main act to a mere afterthought. And thank goodness she did.