Three facts, all interconnected, will prove indisputable on Super Bowl XLVII, aka Beyoncé's largest concert.
Beyoncé will break the Internet. No pop star--not even tweet-happy, "little-monster"mommy Lady Gaga --attracts the kind of attention, love and hate, that Queen Bey does online. This is a performer, after all, whose iconic, Kanye West-declared-"One of the Best Videos of All Time," "Single Ladies" dance inspired a YouTube phenomenon. She's the kind of star who can walk the red carpet, put her hand over her baby bump and generate the most tweets per second (TPS) ever recorded for a single event at the time: 8,868 TPS at 10:35 p.m. on August 28, 2011 at the MTV Video Music Awards. No joke .
Beyoncé will not--absolutely, bar none, under-no-circumstances, not--lip sync. She lip-synced on President Obama's second inauguration, she said in a press conference on Thursday, because she didn't feel fully prepared. She's prepared for Beyoncé Bowl. (The greatest irony of the lip-syncing-heard-round-the-world is that Beyoncé is one of those rare vocalists who actually sounds better live than she does on her recordings.)
And Beyoncé, arguably the best performer of her generation, male or female, will deliver the most memorable Super Bowl halftime show we are likely to see in our lifetimes. That's not an exaggeration, especially for a singer-dancer-performer who has set the bar for everyone else. The lip-syncing controversy has generated Beyoncé even more buzz, which will hit fever pitch online by the time she takes the spotlight away from San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. (A recent poll on the cable channel Bravo asked, "Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?" The 49ers got 18 percent of the vote and the Ravens took 31 percent. Beyoncé won with 51 percent.)
But lip-syncing and the Internet aside, you don't have to like Beyoncé's music to respect her work. You don't have to be a Beyoncé fan and a member of her Beyhive to be awestruck by her talent.
I've grown up listening to Beyoncé, which says less about my age (we share a birth year--1981) and more about how long Bey has been performing. Born in the Philippines, I moved to the U.S. in 1993, when her group Girl's Tyme changed its name to Destiny's Child. To any immigrant seeking to assimilate, the quickest way to absorb American culture--the sounds and sights of this new country--is through television, movies, and music. For a Filipino-American kid growing up in California in the mid-1990s, pop equaled R&B, the sounds of TLC, Boyz II Men, and Mariah Carey, the first mainstream singer to integrate rappers in her music. (There was no turning back after Ol' Dirty Bastard rapped "Me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers" in the remix of "Fantasy.")
Destiny's Child, and particularly Beyoncé, was a part of that musical education for me. Nothing quite like using "bootylicious" in a sentence to feel characteristically American. If Mariah was the commercial epitome of a post-Motown, modern R&B--a hip-hop-pop sound--then Lauryn Hill was the critical and artistic apotheosis of it. For her part, Beyoncé bridged that gap and then some, defining this singular American sound for more than a decade and attaining both commercial and critical success. As the lead singer and song-writer of Destiny's Child, a group which her own father managed, she set the pace musically and aesthetically.