The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 11, 2013

Jeremiah Tucker: Biggest hit of Super Bowl delivered at halftime

JOPLIN, Mo. — The day after the Super Bowl is when we all gather around the water cooler and debate if the guy who threw the football to the other guys dressed like him is the best Super Bowl thrower of all time, or if the guy who ran across the whole field without getting knocked down is the best jogger to ever jog in the game, or if the guy with the bionic arm and tinted visor is a crybaby for the ages.

The one performance that was undebatable this year, however, was that of Beyonce -- she dominated, giving the best halftime show since at least Prince in 2007.

The 31-year-old pop star earned nearly unanimous acclaim, with everyone from USA Today and The New York Times to the indie blog Stereogum and Justin Timberlake praising the 13-minute set that included an abbreviated Destiny's Child reunion.

Beyonce performed like a woman determined to cement her place as the indisputable new king of pop. The title of queen would imply there is perhaps someone with a better claim to the throne, and there is not.

She arrived on the biggest stage in the world -- a setting in recent years that has swallowed the likes of Springsteen, The Who and Madonna -- still stinging from criticism for lip-syncing the National Anthem during President Obama's inauguration.

She addressed the controversy a few days earlier in a press conference by opening with a sterling a cappella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," afterwards telling reporters that she had used a prerecorded backing track during the January ceremony because she's a perfectionist and there wasn't time to rehearse. But this was the halftime show, arranged to explicitly show off her vocal chops, that she likely intended to be the final word on the issue.

Beyonce possesses that crackling, voltaic stage presence rare even among people who make their living performing in front of large audiences. Michael Jackson also had this quality, but even he, during his mesmerizing performance at the Motown 25 TV special where he debuted the moonwalk, had to lip-sync "Billie Jean" in order to nail his dance moves.

Beyonce's short set was the equivalent of returning a kickoff for a touchdown while wearing high heels and simultaneously singing.

Unlike Jackson, Beyonce's style never appears effortless. Quite the opposite, in fact. She is more from the James Brown "hardest working man in show business" tradition.

Ushered by her parents into the music business at a young age, the Beyonce brand is built on sweat equity, her flawlessness the result of practice and savvy.

For instance: Her voice is technically good, but it isn't especially unique, yet she has learned to wield it like a precision instrument. If you still aren't believer, go to YouTube and watch the mesmerizing shaky home video, filmed in a dressing room by her husband, Jay-Z, of her rehearsing "1+1."

Watching her perform at the Super Bowl, what I found interesting is how Beyonce remains the biggest pop star in the world, despite not being the biggest-selling. Although her last album, "4," a brawny, idiosyncratic mix of classic R&B and pop, was terrific and likely the right move for career longevity, not one of its singles cracked the top 10.

Furthermore, she has yet to have an album come close to selling as many copies as Adele's "21." All three of Taylor Swift's albums have outperformed Beyonce's three releases in the U.S., and Swift has broader crossover appeal. Katy Perry has more No. 1 singles and Lady Gaga has nearly five times more Twitter followers.

Yet it's difficult to imagine any of them pulling off what Beyonce did last Sunday. Her peers may be stars, but they don't necessarily have star power.

Also -- none of them can move like Beyonce.

Like all Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Beyonce's was steeped in spectacle: backup dancers, a guitar that shot fire and impressive digital effects, including one that made it appear as if she had cloned herself. But there were also moments, like at the end of "Single Ladies," where she was on that expansive stage, dancing alone, unflinchingly holding the audience's gaze, confident that she is her own best special effect.

Text Only
  • Wichita.jpg Going Western: Indie film 'Wichita' to show tonight at MSSU

    Nicholas Burton isn't exactly raising a cash cow on his livestock ranch. But the Wichita, Kan.-based filmmaker has an advantage over other film producers: Westerns are in high demand, and he's in the perfect spot to make them.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041114_pajama game.jpg Love, labor liven up JHS musical 'Pajama Game'

    The spring musical put on by the Joplin High School Theatre Department deals with a labor of love among a labor dispute.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MSSU choir, orchestra combines for performance of legendary 'Carmina Burana'

    The free performance is a joint effort between the Southern Symphonic Chorus, which is composed of the MSSU Concert Chorale and volunteer singers, and the orchestra, which is made up of Missouri Southern students, faculty and professionals from the community.

    April 11, 2014

  • 1520face.JPG Globe Phone Test: Nokia Lumia 1520's outstanding camera offset by frustrating OS

    On Monday, news broke that flight attendants aboard Delta Airlines flights would receive Nokia Lumia 1520 devices in October. The devices will have flight manuals, support on-board sales, allow attendants to process credit card payments and crapcan heavy 500-page manuals they used have to bring.

    The move is similar to how American Airlines attendants were give Galaxy Note phablets. Because Delta already gave attendants similar smartphones, it's reasonable to assume that the company places a lot of faith in the Windows Phone system.

    But Delta's choice of device is puzzling because the 1520 is better suited to take photos and videos of people on board an airplane, not take their drink and meal orders. And because the device is so big, I'm not sure how flight attendants would feel carrying it around in a cramped flight.


    As the iOS and Android systems struggle for the top smartphone operating system, Microsoft's Windows Phone has scratched its way into the No. 3 spot, pushing past BlackBerry. Nokia, once one of the top names in devices, is pairing with Microsoft to make a device that features an incredible camera. The company already made the Lumia 1020, which features a humongous 41-megapixel camera that does amazing things.

    The Lumia 1520 is its biggest offering to date. The device, available exclusively from AT&T, is one of the biggest phablet-style phones on the market today. For about 10 days, I tested out a black-colored device provided by AT&T.


    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Kurt Cobain likely would have thrived in today's music scene

    I have no memory of the day he died. A friend asked me about this recently, and I said at that age -- I would've been 13 -- I was probably still rocking my cassingle of the Escape Club's "Wild Wild West." Needless to say, my middle school years were rough.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_108172906 Benji Tunnell: 'Winter Soldier' sets a high bar for summer movie season

    If a film was truly great, it would be held until June or July. Or so the thinking might have been before the release last week of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marta-mug.jpg Marta Churchwell: Joplin mural part of Benton's larger message

    Recently, I received information on Joplin's celebration of one of its native sons, Thomas Hart Benton. In observance of the artist's 125th birthday, City Hall will host a collection of his works alongside his mural that honors Joplin history.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 040814 Worldfest.jpg World Fest pairs well with Celebrate America

    The Slinkerds think Silver Dollar City's World Fest is a great opportunity to show their young children other cultures and introduce them to people from around the world.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ka-Pow! New attraction offers free-fall plunge

    On May 17, two brave souls willing to whether mid-May¹s unpredictable weather will climb into the two drop-floor aqua-launch capsules atop KaPau Plummet.

    April 11, 2014 1 Slideshow

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Letterman performance gives deserved boost to Future Islands

    It's hard to believe an appearance on a late-night talk show can still make a band's career. It's such a common occurrence and the cultural currency of the late-night format has dropped so much in recent years that, short of literally setting the stage ablaze or stabbing the host, the most a band could hope for is a couple of polite blog notices.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo