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HomeentertainmentCritic's Notebook: Rihanna chooses cohesion over chaos during Super Bowl halftime show

Critic's Notebook: Rihanna chooses cohesion over chaos during Super Bowl halftime show

Will the NFL, Rihanna and Apple Music think I’m nitpicking at the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII on Sunday one of the most cohesive games in gaming history?

No one thinks “cohesion” is a particularly passionate adjective, ) The Super Bowl halftime show ever really craves cohesion . You know why? Because of the cohesive force, the needle does not move. The cohesion is consistent, and the Super Bowl halftime show is usually all about the “OMG!” moment. deviation.

That’s why most recent halftime highlights have headlines and then they have surprising or unsurprising guest stars, sometimes from completely incompatible genres Or the head-scratching difference in star power. Like, I know it’s the 2023th Super Bowl, but what a year we have Coldplay is the most important, and then Beyoncé and Bruno Mars just provide support ?

Sometimes the orchestrated halftime chaos doesn’t need guests or 50. Sometimes It might involve a huge mid-show stage change or the influx of new background singers or dancers. Sometimes it might include dynamic costume changes (or failed costume changes) or crazy stunts or technological innovations.

Well-planned mayhem is a great way to get everyone in the biggest TV audience of the year feeling invested, bringing as many genres as possible into one minutes of the show. Sometimes it’s just fun.

Last year’s halftime show, had five headliners – Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, plus 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak cameo appearances – need to re-stage and introduce and Exit the different groups of dancers, then the 50 Cent’s entrance. It was so ambitious and so pervasive that I kept feeling like I was pitting one move against the others, as if there would be a victor crowned at the end of the show.

At the end of Rihanna’s halftime show the winner is…anyone at home wants to see of people – Minute clip of a Rihanna concert, a perfectly reasonable wish considering Rihanna hasn’t performed a live show in over five years. The prevailing narrative leading up to the Super Bowl was about this being her “comeback,” and the secondary narrative involved which of her countless collaborators would head to Arizona to provide stage support. Some of the guesswork makes sense, and some of it is just wild speculation. How likely is it that Tom Holland will show up to dance with “Umbrella” in homage to his forever viral lip-syncing cover song? low! But will it make people happy? Some! More importantly, will it lead directly to a surge in social media reaction to the show? oops yes.

This is not that kind of show.

No cameos. zero. That means no accidental children’s chorus when Rihanna sings “All of the Lights,” and no Kanye West. I believe we can all be eternally grateful for the latter. That might still come as a small surprise, considering how many of the songs Rihanna sang had some sort of collaborative element.

Rihanna wore only one costume, the red number with shiny rubber or plastic inserts, a design I must assume was made by the same tailor very similar to the Imperial Royal Guard Costume from Return of the Jedi . (Disclaimer: I’m not a music critic or a fashion critic, but I’m a geek.) It’s a versatile rig capable of hiding support cables and causing sketchy 50 % of viewers Google “is Rihanna pregnant again?” (it turns out she is . )

This question can be eye-popping, and so is Rihanna. The entrance to one of the few unidentified floating objects, we should all be relieved that the military didn’t shoot it down. But if anyone is wondering, “Okay, so now how is she going to top it?” the answer is, “She really hasn’t.”

Rihanna did It’s just a matter of flipping through a pretty ridiculous catalog, especially for a guy who only has and hasn’t released a new album in years. She starts with “Bitch Better Have My Money”—a menacing classic that loses its edge by being upstaged by the lowering of those floating platforms—and “Only Girl,” before working on the powerful ” ,” “All the Lights,” “Run This Town,” “Umbrella,” and “Diamonds.”

She is surrounded by the same dance troupe throughout, a very synchronized ensemble spanning the entire venue, even though we inevitably spend most of our time looking at these dozens of dancers Dressed in a white hooded tracksuit, Rihanna was surrounded from start to finish. They gloss over the fact that when she’s moving, she doesn’t do much choreography herself.

What Rihanna is doing besides sometimes singing and sometimes leaning on the background music, expressing emotion directly to the camera like super attractive stars and actresses – you say, “ Battleship!” I said, “ Bates Motel !” – she is. From the first second of the performance to the last, Rihanna keeps an eye on the camera and her angles. While that might seem like the most obvious thing a performer could do, it’s definitely not the case for a typical Super Bowl halftime show, where there’s so much going on that the directors mostly try to keep up to make sure each artist gets their Every super-expensive expansion of the stage or expanded use of the venue gets noticed for a few seconds of screen time.

For the most part, the cameras were just on Rihanna. There are several close-ups of her band. Are they actually playing live? have no idea. But there they are! Dancers are showcased, but the focus is not on highlighting individual excellence, but on demonstrating the unity or “cohesion” of the dance. The result might not be that crazy sense of spectacle you can sometimes get from a halftime show. Near the climax of the show, there were fireworks and glow sticks among the crowd, but it didn’t create much awe. No “oh, that’s great!” No “how did they do that?”

Instead, the main thing that impresses me is that the cameras always show up at the right time In the right place – this kind of precision you usually don’t get from a live show of this scale. The overall choreography – not just the dancers, everything happening on multiple platforms of the stage – is great, you can occasionally see moments where the camera pulls back from Rihanna and does a full loop – -loop , turned upside down, soaring into the sky. The direction of the halftime show has been very much in favor of drones for several years now seeing drones have reached a level of proficiency enough that they don’t draw attention or more of the camerawork is done with wires and cranes and smooth Steadicam driven.

One song is written for the next, and then written for the next. There wasn’t a single micro-performance that I thought was particularly good, and there wasn’t one that made me mad she didn’t do the… dunno… “what’s my name?” instead.

So you probably want Tom Holland or Jay-Z. You may be longing for a new song to come out of nowhere. You might want to see something you’ve never seen before at a sports-related show (the floating platform thing is pretty neat). You might crave something that feels spontaneous and unplanned, even though that sometimes leads to decades of controversy and the threat of FCC action. It’s not like that.

I don’t always demand or reward “fluency,” “precise,” and “cohesive.” But tonight, I have no objection.




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