Rehearsal Notes: Rihanna Chooses Cohesion Over Chaos for Super Bowl Halftime Show

If I say that Rihanna and the Apple Music halftime show at Super Bowl LVII was one of the most cohesive in the game's history, will the NFL, Rihanna, and Apple Music think I'm being critical?

The term "cohesive" is not associated with enthusiasm, and neither has the Super Bowl halftime show ever tried to be cohesive. As to why, you already know. Simply put, unity doesn't make a difference. Consistency and uniformity characterize cohesion, and the "Holy crap!" moments that arise during the halftime show of the Super Bowl are legendary. " Variations

Thus, most modern halftime shows feature a headlining act and a variety of guest stars, some of whom may be expected while others may be a complete surprise. It was the 50th Super Bowl, but how in the name of all that is holy did we end up with a year where Coldplay headlined and Beyoncé and Bruno Mars were merely supporting acts?

The halftime show doesn't always need an extra person or ten to be a chaotic, well-orchestrated spectacle. There may be a massive stage change in the middle of the performance, or an influx of new musicians and dancers. In other cases, it may involve a daring stunt or cutting-edge technology rather than a costume change (or an unsuccessful costume change).

By cramming as many genres as possible into a 10-minute performance and then orchestrating the chaos that ensues, you can ensure that the largest TV audience of the year will be thoroughly engaged. In addition, there are times when it's simply enjoyable.

There were five major acts at last year's halftime show, including Dr. Rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige K. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and 50 Cent and Anderson. Paak — involved moving props around and bringing in and sending out groups of dancers, and then there was whatever was going on with 50 Cent's entrance. It was ambitious and disjointed to the point where I kept comparing different acts as if there would be a victor at the show's conclusion.

Since Rihanna hasn't performed live in over five years, the halftime show's real winner was... anyone at home who wanted to watch a 10-minute snippet from a Rihanna concert. Much of the talk leading up to the big game centered on how this would be her "comeback," and secondary stories focused on which of her many collaborators would fly out to Arizona to perform with her. Both reasonable and irrational assumptions were made. The chances of Tom Holland showing up to dance to "Umbrella" in honor of his forever viral lip-synching cover of the song were, to put it mildly, slim. Low To what extent, though, would that have made people happy? Some More to the point, do you think it would have had a direct impact on the show's popularity on social media? Heck yes

This was not a program of that nature.

The absence of special guests Zero That's why Rihanna's "All of the Lights" wasn't accompanied by a swarm of kids or Kanye West. The latter, I think, is something for which we can all be eternally grateful. Perhaps it was only mildly surprising, given that so many of Rihanna's songs featured collaborations.

Rihanna wore only one outfit, a bright red dress with a shiny rubber or plastic bustle that, I assume, was made by the same tailors who sewed the identical Imperial Royal Guard uniforms in Return of the Jedi. (I should preface this by saying I am neither a music critic nor a fashion critic; however, I am a geek. It was a multipurpose outfit, able to cloak a support cable and prompt approximately 85% of viewers to search for "Is Rihanna pregnant again?" The truth is out, she is )

We should all be thankful the military didn't shoot down one of the several unidentified floating objects on which Rihanna made her entrance, so we can assume that question set tongues wagging. Anybody who was thinking, "OK, so now how will she top that?" I asked, "Did she?," and the response was, "She ”

Rihanna has been working her way through a discography that is absurdly large, considering she is only 34 years old and hasn't released a new album in years. She opened with "Only Girl" and "Bitch Better Have My Money," a jauntily menacing classic that was upstaged by the lowering of those floating platforms, and she ended with rousing renditions of "Work," "All the Lights," "Run This Town," "Umbrella," and "Diamonds." ”

Even though we couldn't help but focus on the couple dozen dancers in white hooded tracksuits who were constantly surrounding Rihanna, she was surrounded by the same troupe of dancers throughout, a remarkably synchronized ensemble that stretched across much of the field. They masked the fact that, despite her apparent movement, she wasn't really performing any choreography of her own.

What Rihanna was doing, in addition to singing and sometimes leaning on the backing track like the ultra-charismatic star and actress — You say, "Battleship" — was expressing herself directly to the camera. I respond, "Bates Motel. " — she is Rihanna was constantly aware of the cameras and her angles from the start of the performance to the finish. And while that may seem like the most fundamental thing a performer can do, in reality, it's not, especially not at a Super Bowl halftime show, where there's so much going on that the directors are mostly just trying to keep up. to give each performer their 15 seconds of fame, to draw focus to every elaborate set piece and innovative use of the field

For the most part, the focus was solely on Rihanna. There were some up-close shots of her band. Were any of the performances truly live? Dunno However, they did exist. Instead of singling out standout performances, the showcase highlighted the cohesiveness of the dancers as a whole. This could have reduced the wild spectacle that sometimes characterizes a halftime show. There were fireworks and, I don't know, glowsticks or something in the audience as the performance built to its climax, but the effect was muted at best. Not even an "oh cool" No "How on earth did they do that? ”

What truly stood out to me, however, was the camera's uncanny knack for being precisely where it needed to be during each and every performance. There were occasional flourishes, like when the camera backed away from Rihanna and did a full-scale loop-the-loop, because the overall choreography was so good (not just the dancers, but where everything was taking place within the multiple platforms of the stages). flouncing in the air while upside down After two years in a row of drone-fu dominating the halftime show, it was a huge relief to see either that the drones have become proficient enough not to draw attention to themselves or that more of the halftime show's traditional elements have returned. Wires, cranes, and the Steadicam make up the camera apparatus.

Each song built upon the previous one. I didn't think any of the individual performances were particularly noteworthy, and there wasn't even one that was so bad that I was mad she didn't do, I dunno, "What's My Name?" as an alternative

This means that Tom Holland or Jay-Z might have been more to your liking. You may have wished for an unexpected new song to be released. Perhaps you were anticipating something truly groundbreaking at a performance that was in some way related to sports (the floating platform stuff was cool, but you were hoping for something more). There's a chance you yearned for the thrill of the unexpected, but you should know that doing so can lead to decades of controversy and possible FCC intervention. That's not what this was about.

Smooth, precise, and cohesive are not always required or rewarded by me. Except for tonight, when I had no objections

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