They were right.
In just under 12 minutes, Ms. Knowles dished a show-stopper that was every second Sasha Fierce. Blowing through eight songs in a typical halftime-hits medley, Beyonce threw her hips and whipped her hair and -- so it seems -- actually sang.
Following last month's overly harsh drubbing over her national anthem performance at President Obama's second inauguration -- on Thursday she admitted to singing live but using a pre-recorded support track, as I suspected -- everyone was on the lookout for no, no, no lip-syncing.
Looked good from the cheap seats. As if she had something to prove -- after a superlative 15-year career leading Destiny's Child and on her own -- Beyoncé brought her A game to a performance that was literally and figuratively on fire.
Pyrotechnics first illuminated two 20-yard-long faces on the field, followed by a larger-than-life outline of the singer's curves. (Throughout the first half, Twitter was packed with men hoping and praying for a wardrobe malfunction.) Beyoncé appeared in silhouette, strutting like a supermodel and singing "Love on Top." Lights up revealed a super-sexy outfit -- designed by up-and-coming New York designer Rubin Singer -- made of space-age silver-black leather, with a plunging neckline and Barbarella shapes and cuts.
A dozen dancers joined her for "Crazy in Love" (no husband Jay-Z, as rumored) and into the stomping Caribbean rhythms of "End of Time," which also spotlighted her all-female band and horn section. Throughout the performance, Beyoncé's knack for knowing exactly where the camera was and exactly which hot look, wink or kiss to blow was pretty stunning every time.
Midway through -- surprising exactly no one -- Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland sprang through trap doors in the stage to join Beyoncé for the first Destiny's Child performance in five years. The trio has a new single out, "Nuclear," but the Super Bowl set list was brief and safe: "Bootylicious" and "Independent Women," followed by Beyonce's hit "Single Ladies," with Williams and Rowland gamely backing up the boss. A triumphant reassertion of the power trio it was not. More like a guarantee of the quality of Beyoncé's coattails.
Beyoncé capped the quick show on her own, crouching before fans (who'd rushed onto the field at the beginning of the show) to sing "Halo," going for as intimate a moment as you can get on the 50-yard line of the Super Bowl. She ended the song and the set on her knees and on her back -- the kind of ouch! yowza! move the set was loaded with.
"Thank you for this moment," she said. "God bless y'all."
The set list wasn't exciting. There wasn't a single song that (sorry) put a ring on the show. The medley was a bit breathless, though at least the breathlessness evaporated lip-syncing concerns.
In the end, she didn't topple Prince for best all-time Super Bowl halftime performance, but she certainly cemented her own stature.
Before kickoff, things kicked off with goose bumps as kids from the Sandy Hook Elementary School Chorus sang "America the Beautiful" with Chicago's own Jennifer Hudson.
A couple dozen young singers from the Newtown, Conn., school -- site of December's massacre -- started the song, singing bravely in white shirts and lil' khakis. Hudson, herself affected by gun violence, joined them on the second verse with typical power and grace.
Continuing the subdued tone to the traditional, patriotic opening to the year's most-watched TV event, Alicia Keys sat alone at a piano on the field and sang a slow, supple arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner," keeping the extra notes in check and delivering a performance as elegant as her dress and 'do. She wasn't lip-syncing -- or piano-syncing, either, as a wrong note on the penultimate chord gave her away. Which only made it more human and rewarding, really.
In other Super Bowl-related pop music news:
-- Classic rockers who sold their songs for new commercials include Fleetwood Mac -- a spliced "Landslide" scores a heart-tugging spot about the special relationship between a man and his Budweiser Clydesdale horse (complete with a tearful reunion in Chicago) -- and the Rolling Stones -- "Sympathy for the Devil" is now a jingle for Mercedes-Benz (shameful).
-- The Flaming Lips at least wrote a new tune for their Super Bowl commercial: the light, Beach Boy-esque "Sun Blows Up Today," which scores a semi-cute 60-second ad for Hyundai featuring a family spending a super Saturday running around and doing lots of activities that require "Do not attempt" in small print at the bottom of the screen. Wayne Coyne is there, in his now-typical grey suit, and the big plastic ball makes its now-requisite appearance. The Lips have a new album out April 2, "The Terror," and could use a little of that Super Bowl ad-mojo that sent fun.'s "We Are Young" to the top of the charts last year (and which showed up again this year, in a Taco Bell ad, in Spanish as "Viva Young"!).