Beyoncé draws outrage and praise for Super Bowl set

Beyoncé performing during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday.

Beyoncé performing during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday.

(Christopher Polk / Getty Images)

Who says pop music can’t incite?

Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show featuring Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars has prompted more online comment, analysis and reaction the morning after than the football game itself. The Black Panthers, not the Carolina Panthers, are trending across social media.

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The question on everyone’s mind? Was Beyoncé’s performance, in which she stormed an uneventfully crowd-pleasing Coldplay medley with a new song called “Formation,” a political call to action?


For those who missed it, the show began with themes of love and peace from headliners Coldplay, who didn’t retain the spotlight long. Three years after headlining the Super Bowl halftime show, Beyoncé and a team of dancers, dressed in black and wearing Black Panther-style berets, moved to center stage and took over. The contrast was immediate and undeniable. She and her troops jumped into her politically charged new song, “Formation.”

Released on Saturday, the song and video exude defiance. Beyoncé sings about her looks, her ancestry and her identity: “Earned all this money but they never take the country out me,” she sang, along with declaring, “I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”

The response was immediate, especially as she and her team danced their way into an “X” formation, tacitly referencing civil rights activist Malcolm X.

After the set, those dancers issued a photo via Twitter.

By Monday morning, Beyoncé’s set was on its way to becoming the most controversial halftime show since Janet Jackson’s so-called wardrobe malfunction. Unlike that incident, Beyoncé’s choreographed protest was about more than sex.

On Fox News’ “Fox & Friends, the show’s host Anna Kooiman said, “Beyoncé got a police escort there and then she gives a salute to the Black Lives Matter movement.”


Rudolph Giuliani, who was a guest on the show, added a dash of music criticism to his response. “I think it was outrageous. The halftime show I thought was ridiculous anyway. I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible.”


The original version of this post misspelled Rudolph Giuliani’s name.

Others had different reactions. Avowed Beyoncé lover James Corden cried.

Twitter user @christyyray asked a simple question.

Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper had nothing but raves and invoked a pop idol of similar stature as the level Beyoncé enjoys in 2016: Michael Jackson.

Conservative writer Michelle Malkin took issue with the language.

And Neil deGrasse Tyson played it safe by opting for a politically neutral anagram.

Beyoncé also capitalized on Super Bowl Sunday’s massive pop cultural footprint to announce a run of concert dates, which will be her first solo tour since 2013. The tour kicks off in April and comes to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in May. By then, perhaps, the Internet’s outrage generation capabilities will find a new target, but time will tell.

For tips on playlists, Los Angeles music news and video clips, follow @liledit


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