If you made it to halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl (Snoozer Bowl?) without falling asleep, you were probably hoping to be rewarded with a grand, dazzling display of musical artistry and showmanship.
And you were probably disappointed.
About the best review I’ve heard is that Maroon 5 and company managed to not be the worst performance in Super Bowl halftime show history. Faint praise, indeed.
The underwhelming show sent many on a trip down memory lane, remembering top shelf performances of past years. Beyoncé’s 2013 performance is certainly among that number. Her halftime spectacle featured dazzling pyrotechnics, precise choreography, soaring vocals and – to top it all off – a Destiny’s Child reunion. All of that took place after a couple week’s worth of shade was thrown her way for opting to use a backing track rather than sing live in the bone-chilling cold of President Obama’s inauguration.
It takes moxie to command the attention of the world, and Queen Bey has it. Here’s how:
Moxie puts in the work.
From the tender age of 7 when she won her first talent show, it was clear that little Beyoncé Giselle Knowles had outsized talent. Her upper middle class upbringing afforded her opportunities to develop her talent under supportive guidance of her parents. She began auditioning around Houston, and the all-girl group that eventually evolved into Destiny’s Child began to take shape and appear in showcases and talent shows and backyards and even her mother’s hair salon. Throughout her childhood and teens, Beyoncé honed her craft, displaying discipline and determination beyond her years.
It took years of hard work for Destiny’s Child to break through with their self-titled debut album in 1998, and the hard work didn’t stop after Beyoncé went solo in 2003.
Her reward? She is one of the top-selling artists of all time. She’s been nominated for more Grammy awards than any other artist, and she’s taken home the golden trophy nearly two dozen times. She set the record for most Grammys won in one night by a female artist (six.) She’s won more VMAs than any artist in history. She’s been nominated for and won more BET awards than any other artist in history. Her forays into acting have netted her a Golden Globe award.
Beyoncé’s perfectionism is legendary, and it shows up in her flawless performances. It takes moxie to discipline yourself, and Beyoncé has it.
Moxie keeps healthy boundaries.
Beyoncé’s discipline isn’t limited to her career. She keeps a strict boundary between her personal and professional lives, which is no easy task considering her husband, Jay-Z, is a powerhouse performer and artist himself. They are among the most influential power couples in the world.
Beyoncé carefully constructs and presents her image and the image of her family to the world. I’ll admit that I find her so carefully curated and filtered and wordsmithed that it all seems terribly inauthentic, but I understand the necessity of that, too, and not just from a branding standpoint.
Beyoncé created an alter ego she dubbed “Sasha Fierce” to take that stage for her. She describes herself as shy and introverted offstage, and has admitted to struggling with depression early in her career.
Carefully drawing boundaries between public and private appears to me a healthy mechanism for coping with the glare of the spotlight. It takes moxie maintain control and say “No!” and Beyoncé has it.
Moxie comes back for an encore, and brings a message.
Super Bowl 2013 wasn’t Beyoncé’s only half time appearance. She came back for an encore in 2016.
She strutted on to the field and performed her latest single, “Formation”, which had dropped just the day before. The music video touched on themes related to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and critics called out the costumes worn by Beyoncé’s backup dancers as reminiscent of gear worn by members of the Black Panthers. Critics accused Beyoncé of attacking police with her performance and politicizing the Super Bowl.
Beyoncé later spoke to the controversy in an interview with Elle magazine.
“I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe,” she said.
“But let’s be clear. I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created, and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
That Beyoncé, who has never been one to court controversy – would choose that particular moment to wade into an argument – was telling. It takes moxie to use your voice and influence to speak up for a cause you believe in, and Beyoncé has it.
Are you a member of the Beyhive?