If you give any credence to astrological signs, the idea that Virgos are perfectionists is no surprise. That is a sign defined by driven, detail oriented folks like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson and Beyonce Knowles. So the fact that she pre-recorded her national anthem performance for Obama's second inauguration is simply an example of her overall world view. The leading pop diva of the 21st century was not gonna risk a sour note or a cough in the D.C. chill with the globe watching. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, had a great hat on in 2008, but her actual vocals were just okay.
Beyonce wasn't gonna take that chance. In the mini-scandal about her lip-synching, discussion of her well-arranged performance has been lost. While not as radical as Marvin Gaye's re-imaginging of the tune for the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Beyonce managed to personalize a difficult melody and actually pronounce all the words clearly, a task we all know is rarely accomplished.
Right after the inauguration, the next set of photos of Beyonce to hit the blogosphere were of her about to dine at Mother's, a fried food institution on Poydras Street in New Orleans. Though the Super Bowl was a solid two weeks away, Mrs. Carter was already down South prepping for her Feb 3 Super Bowl half-time show.
The Super Bowl half-time show has become as much an American ritual as the game itself. In some respects bigger, since non-fans tune in to catch a spectacle that launches hundreds of thousands of tweets. For much of the Super Bowl's history, from 1967 to 1992, the National Football League employed a hodge-podge of entertainers — from Broadway singer Carol Canning to trumpeter Al Hirt to the Up With People ensemble. Often there were theme shows, such as a Motown tribute at Michigan's Pontiac Silverdome in 1983.
Michael Jackson's 1993 appearance at the Rose Bowl was a turning point for the half-time show. A decade removed from his 'Thriller' peak and scarred by child molestations rumors, MJ's performance was arguably his last big pop culture triumph. He delivered the goods ("Billie Jean," "Black or White," "We Are the World") and ratings soared. In the ten years since '93, the NFL has either booked venerable stars (the Rolling Stones, U2, Prince, Madonna) along with some current pop stars (Black Eyed Peas with Usher.) Infamously Janet Jackson's nipple, exposed by Justin Timberlake, torpedoed her recording career in Houston in 2004.
Expect no such missteps from Beyonce, a relentless perfectionist. With Michael Jackson as an obvious role model, the lady is clearly consumed by some form of pop world domination. In my travels to places such as India and Brazil, I've seen that Beyonce is one of the few young black recording artists with a high profile. That only happens with a constant flow of material and a willingness to travel globally to support the music, both of which this Houston native has been very diligent about.
It's sad to me that Beyonce's hard work — which is apparent in her singing, performance and tour schedule – is so often used to knock her. Her workaholic tendencies have made some unfairly label her robotic or mechanical. For her technical and physical perfection in performance is not simply a goal, but an obtainable obsession. Anyone who thinks her Super Bowl half-time show will be less than impeccable should revisit her National Anthem. Perhaps not soul stirring, but clear, crisp and as well calibrated as a Peyton Manning spiral.