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Super Bowl ‘Hit or Miss’-direction?

I’m just sitting here in my office, contemplating Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII and the aftermath of everyone’s likes and dislikes about the game, the commercials, the blackout, and the half-time show.

It was amusing to check my Facebook feed and see that half the posts were saying ‘Beyonce’s amazing!’ and the other half saying ‘worst half-time show ever.’

Yes, Beyonce has a great voice and can dance… no question. The special effects and lights were dazzling. It was a show. But, as one who doesn’t listen to her on a regular basis, I couldn’t tell you what the songs were about, or one song from another for that matter.

All I could tell from that performance was that Beyonce’s dance moves and wardrobe were very sexual. Much of the time her attitude and facial expression fit into this as well. Now, I did like the fact that she was confident and in control. I never once thought she was unsure about what she was doing, and that’s huge for any performer.

So, if the songs were all about sex, I guess she communicated that message, because we were assaulted with it. But if she was trying to tell me something else, it failed to get through the barrage of moves, and lack of clothing. (And, by the way, isn’t the Super Bowl a ‘family show’?? I’m guessing parents everywhere were shuttling their kids off to their rooms, or out to the kitchen to get more wings to avoid ‘over-exposure.’ But I digress…)

Now I ‘get’ that this genre of music as a rule, doesn’t really focus on deep lyrics, or telling much of a story. It’s mostly about the dance beats and vocalizing. So the real question here – to those who know her songs – was this what we call ‘misdirection’? Were the outfits and choreography communicating the right message? Or were they detracting from what I should have been paying attention to? I’d love to hear your feedback!

(If you’ve got a sense of humor about her show, check out the post from one of our Facebook friends in response to, “Did anyone catch any ‘moments’ during halftime?”)

Misdirection can come in many different forms. In this hilarious live video you’re about to see, it involves a band member taking the attention off of who the audience should be watching. Epic ‘team player’ fail!

It’s obvious that was misdirection! But sometimes it’s not so easy to know that you (or someone in your band) is doing it. So what do you do to avoid misdirection? If you haven’t done it already, read chapter 12 in Tom’s Live Music Method book (Fundamentals)… and start practicing those fundamentals!

There is a way to perform onstage that will direct your audience’s attention to exactly what you want them to see and experience. It doesn’t have to be ‘hit or miss.’


Photo courtesy of shak74 on Flickr

Amy Wolter

As a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions, Amy Wolter brings her years onstage as a lead singer & keyboardist - along with her experience as a producer, arranger, and songwriter - to singers and bands who won’t settle for ‘good enough’. She’s worked with artists at all levels, and genres ranging from Rock to Celtic, empowering them to have confidence and authority onstage, and put on memorable live shows, a few of whom have been on two of the largest US tours in recent history. Some of her clients include Grammy award winners The Band Perry & Lacrae, CMA and ACM –winning country acts, Gloriana & Thompson Square, 2016 The Voice contestant Mary Sarah, CCMA (Canada) winners High Valley, Jess Moskaluke & Chad Brownlee, and Winter Jam Tour veterans Sidewalk Prophets & Love and The Outcome.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. I honestly don’t see how somebody couldn’t appreciate the virtuosity, the professionalism and the world class level of talent that was displayed in her performance, whether they liked it or not.

  2. I believe the producer(s) of this show had it all ironed out ahead of time. They new how the crowd was gonna be, what they wanted, and what was available from all the performers.

  3. There were 3 changes of pressure for me.
    1) Beyonce appears! (she’s beautiful! she can move! she’s Beyonce!)
    2) Singing with the guitarist
    3) Destiny’s Child

    But, there was only 1 flat moment from the start to end, a whole lot of nothing (explosions, lights, backup dancers, band). Those things and even the changes of pressure didn’t create any clearly defined moments. Someone said she couldn’t look away. I did for a few minutes and when I came back, there was nothing different going on. BTW, I think during that time I missed her “thumb licking moment”. I saw it later but that’s majoring in minor, isn’t it? I also noticed that she had that whole wide stage but relatively stayed in one spot, intentionally for TV? Or, maybe not. Usually live shows intended for TV without the connection with the audience fail to connect with me both on TV or in person. But, TV live shows with the connection with the audience always move me emotionally, like “God, I wanna be there!!”

    I also noticed that some people commenting on her confidence. Amy said she was “in control”. I agree. But, she was not “in charge”. Maybe that’s because she wasn’t connected with the audience, although they were bedazzled. So, probably for that reason, I noticed her “thank you’s” were kind of out of place. She killed the applause cycles and didn’t put pressure on the audience. She didn’t sound diva-like only when she said “thank you”, which doesn’t make her look like a true diva, like she’s acting it out but she actually doesn’t really know what to do.

    One last thing is that even though the stage was amazing, the wardrobe didn’t compliment her among the backup dancers. They all wore black so she was drowned out. Ironically, the only one who stood out was the tenor saxophonist in b&w.

    • Kazki, about the killing applause cycles – great observation! I actually yelled it out loud at the TV when she did it. Maybe someone should send her my book with a bookmark in the section about “how to handle applause”.

  4. Not a bad burlesque show , I don’t know what else one could get out of it .

  5. One BIG fantasy “moment” — To me it doesn’t matter whether we know her overall lyrical message, or what she was communicating lyrically at the show. If what we saw was louder than what we heard, which it was, then the message was either on pitch or if it was different than what we’re seeing, was reinterpreted for us. Bad from that aspect as an artist.

    From an industry perspective it may have been great entertainment or they wouldn’t have put so much money an effort into it. But I hesitate to say great entertainment because then I would be agreeing with “great” as being synonymous with a major decline in moral standards — and that for any age. In fact we who think that way ought to let the music and television industry know just how we feel or they will be empowered to go further.

    • Good point Bob…maybe the lyrics DIDN’T matter for a Super Bowl crowd. Especially there in the stadium, maybe the audience just wants dancing and lights and cool graphics…maxed out, in-your-face energy! To the rest of us watching TV’s it’s different., where we can actually hear and see things more clearly & closely.

  6. Better than the Black Eyed Peas (which isn’t saying much). But I absolutely see why everyone was making fun of the dancing. *BA-BUMP BA-BUMP BA-BUMP* “Tha DIVA has entered tha clüb! It’s all about me now!” Just more narcissism displacement if you ask me. What I mean by that is that she was being a stand-in for other people’s “It’s all about me” tendencies.

    This half good half bad feedback is a pretty typical of current pop music. It seems like if you like things that are shallow and pander to your base instincts in a condescending way, then your vote counts as to what is “popular” in music. Otherwise your vote is mysteriously overlooked. For instance, this track “Bring Me Sunshine” by The Jive Aces, the UK’s longest-running and most successful modern swing group, went viral and became a YouTube sensation, racking up 2 million hits and counting.


    That should be enough to get interest from a record label or two, wouldn’t you say? But no, the labels completely ignored this joyful, well-composed song that has even been prescribed by a doctor in Seattle as part of a regimen for treating depression. The Jive Aces even make the culture papers and gossip columns in The UK, and still we hear nothing–they are a completely independent group. It’s things like this that convince me that the entertainment industry is just as biased and skewed in their thinking as the media, and that they are hellbent on having things their way (i.e. the stupid way) regardless of the cost.

    • I try to always make sure the artists I work with, know the difference between ‘attitude’ and ‘arrogance’. We like to see a certain amount of attitude – the kind where we see your confidence, and you ‘owning the stage’. Arrogance on the other hand, says it IS all about me. Like me or ELSE and I don’t give a rip about you! Whether she portrayed one or the other of these is your call. She may have been trying a bit to hard to emphasize the ‘girl power’ theme of her show…’I am woman hear me roar’!

      And thanks for sharing the Jive Aces clip – fun song!

  7. Definite misdirection. Impressive lights and explosions, but it took away from her performance. She didn’t connect emotionally with me at all. How could she?

    But then we have to ask, were they optimizing the show for the stadium or for TV or attempting to do both?

    The only song I was familiar with is “Single Ladies” – “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.” The costumes definitely did not fit that message. 😉

    • It IS tough to do both Leanne. (Read my reply to Bob’s comment above). She definately went for the ‘smack-em-in-the-face-blow-it-out-of-the-water’ kind of show, but you’re right, it was hard to feel an emotional connection.

  8. haha! that vid is hilarious!

    as far as comanding attention goes, beyonce is the best – I mean DANG! I couldn’t look away. As far as entertainment, it was one of the best superbowl shows because it was so intriguing and interesting to watch. Not to mention she’s and incredible singer and dancer.

    But you’re right… not all her songs are about sex and she was pretty much conveying sex the whole time (especially when she licked her finger and put it betwixt her lady lumps – yikes!) Not only was the sexual content uneccessary for a family event, but she miscommunicated her songs. Although… I suppose when you’re basically the contemporary queen of the music business, you don’t have to care what other people think -you just do whatever the heck you want and rake in the dough :/

    • I an glad I missed that part Katie, Again, here is an example of leading young
      girls in the wrong direction, that this type of performing is praised.

      As for the guys on the teams, the distraction for them was not helpful
      a marching band would have been more apppropriate.
      As far as I am concerned,
      If this type of performance must be seen, put it at the end of the game so children
      will not be exposed to it and we can turn off the tv . Game over….

    • Your last sentance is important Katie…when you’re the ‘queen’, ie; married to your audience, you don’t HAVE to care what people think….to a point. Enough people may remain your fans no matter what. But with that kind of platform, she had a chance to make even MORE fans, and make her existing fans even MORE in love with her, but I don’t think she accomplished that .Here’s an article on the half-time show you might find interesting; http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/02/beyonces_pig_snout.html#.URESM40vKqp.facebook

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