Beyonce sang like she had something to prove at the Super Bowl, balancing out the testosterone levels on the football field with a dance-heavy performance that featured her Destiny's Child band mates and an all-female band.
She emerged onstage singing some of "Love on Top," transitioning to her hit "Crazy In Love" in an all-black ensemble, which matched the dark stage. She ripped off part of her shirt and skirt as she danced hard with background dancers doing the same.
She sang live — and sounded good. Days after admitting to singing to a pre-recorded track at President Barack Obama's inauguration, she proved herself to any doubters and added a few off-script remarks as if to show her microphone was on.
Her background singers helped out as Beyonce danced around the stage throughout most of the 13-minute performance. She was especially top-notch during "End of Time" and "Baby Boy."
She had a swarm of background dancers and band members spread throughout the stage, along with videotaped images of herself dancing. And the crowd got bigger when she was joined by her Destiny's Child band mates.
Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams popped up from below the stage to sing "Bootylicious." They were in similar outfits, singing and dancing closely as they harmonized. But Rowland and Williams were barely heard when the group sang "Independent Woman," as their voices faded into the background.
They also joined in for some of "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," where Beyonce's voice grew stronger.
She asked the crowd to put their hands toward her she belted the slow groove "Halo" on bended knee — and that's when she the performance hit its high note.
Before the game, Alicia Keys performed a lounge-y, piano-tinged version of the national anthem that her publicist assured was live. The Grammy-winning singer played the piano as she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" in a long red dress with her eyes shut.
She followed Jennifer Hudson, who performed "America the Beautiful" with the 26-member Sandy Hook Elementary School chorus, a performance that had some players on the sideline on the verge of tears.
The students wore green ribbons on their shirts in honor of the 20 first-graders and six adults who were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting rampage at the school in Newton, Conn.
The students began the song softly before Hudson, whose mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew were shot to death five years ago, jumped in with her gospel-flavored vocals. She stood still in black and white as the students moved to the left and right, singing background.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MusicMesfi n