04 February 2013

My Super Bowl MVP: Alicia Keys

I understand that I may be opening myself up to a whole slew of criticism here, but I only make these statements as theses of sorts, just musings aloud.  I'm not wedded to what I'm about to write and I don't posit it as any direct truth claims.  

Yes, I watched the Beyoncé at halftime show.  I've heard two prevailing opinions about it via the interwebs: 

1) That was a terrific show of the power of the woman -- and all her musicians were women too!  Beyoncé has a real body, real curves and flat out nailed it! She showed that women are just as good as men: Think about the children!

2) What a bunch of hypersexualized bollocks!  That's no way to act!  Think about the children!

I may be totally off-base, but the stark contrast between Alicia Keys' performance of the Star Spangled Banner and Beyoncé's halftime show knocked me off my metaphorical feet.  I thought Keys flat out nailed the anthem. I found myself absolutely mesmerized by the sound of her voice, by the absolutely artfulness with which her hands moved across the keys.  I did not give much thought to what she was or wasn't wearing.  Actually: that is a lie.  I forgot about it after about thirteen seconds, so taken was I by her talent.  Keys became something transcendent, an embodied soul absolutely flaunting the incredible talent placed inside of her by God.  As someone who can neither sing well, nor play more than a few chords on the piano (and perish the thought of doing both at once), I found the entire performance to be a true display of human genius and art.

On the other hand, I found myself left flat during Beyoncé's halftime show.  She too has a knock out voice: I've heard it before.  And I kept wondering: when is she going to start singing?  When is she going to roar through "Put a Ring On It" and distract me from reading the newspaper?  And the moment never came.  

The real question for me in all of this is not whether Beyoncé was right to choreograph or dress the way she did.  I don't doubt her right to do so.  I do, as one might guess, have some questions about whether she ought to have done so.  At the same time, I figure that Beyoncé had the final call on all this and for some reason, she thought this was what she ought to do.  Thus, these three questions, rights, ought-ness and reason, are not really the topic of my reflection.

Rather, I just note the beauty of Keys' performance precisely for the reason that she was so great both because she was a woman and because it didn't matter in the least.

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