AN AVERAGE ANTHEM, IN LENGTH ONLY
“Quickie Mickey” slowed it down for the Super Bowl.
Mickey Guyton who told The Associated Press this week that she’d earned the nickname for singing “The Star Spangled Banner” in a tight 1:30, sang it in about 1:50 on Sunday before the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals took the field.
Oddsmakers had put the over/under on the anthem length at 1:35.
“I don’t want to ruin anybody’s sports bets, but let’s just say it’s the Super Bowl, so it most likely won’t be as fast,” the Grammy-nominated country singer told the AP.
She delivered a soaring, emotive version of the anthem with a minimum of frills that was largely acapella at first before a small choir and piano joined her.
She was still faster than the average Super Bowl anthem of around two minutes.
Guyton did not appear to drop or flub a word, another propositional bet that was offered. And those who bet on her outfit being blue can cash in. She wore a royal blue gown.
The 38-year-old Texas native, best known for her hit “Black Like Me,” made history as the first Black woman to earn a Grammy nomination in a country category and first Black solo woman to host the ACM Awards. She’s a four-time Grammy nominee — up for three at the upcoming ceremony in April.
ROCK ROLLS OUT THE KICKOFF
Dwayne Johnson brought out “The Rock.”
Standing on the field, the actor grabbed a mic and put on his old wrestling persona to introduce the teams just before kickoff, in the style of an announcer before a big fight.
“Finally! The Super Bowl has come back to Los Aaaaangelesssss!” Johnson said, cocking his eyebrow as he did when he was a WWE star before he became a movie star.
He introduced the Rams as a team with a “a soul-crushing, unrelenting defense” and “a head-spinning onslaught of an offense,” and the Bengals as “a team that has risen from the ashes to become one of the most feared , dominant, absolutely electrifying teams in the NFL.”
Johnson played football himself for the University of Miami where he won a national championship in 1991.
“It is time for all of us here and millions around the world to bear witness to these incredible players, who will leave every ounce of sweat, guts, pride and legacy out here on this hallowed field, because that is what champions do,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to say: ‘Finally, it is time for the Suuuper Boooooowwwl!’”
Guyton’s “Star Spangled Banner” was really the final part of a trilogy of anthemic pregame songs.
About 40 minutes before kickoff, the Rams and Bengals lined the end zones and looked up at the big screen while outside, next to SoFi Stadium’s lake, gospel duo Mary Mary and the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing, ” a song that’s known as the unofficial Black national anthem.
The duo, sisters Erica Campbell and Trecina Atkins-Campbell, grew up in the same neighborhood as the Super Bowl stadium.
And down the field from Guyton, singer Jhené Aiko brought a novel combination of R&B and harp to her rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
NBC’s telecast briefly misidentified Guyton as Aiko just as Aiko began singing.
Actress Sandra Mae Frank performed both “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” in American sign language.
STARS ON THE BIG SCREEN
Celebrities in the stands of the first Hollywood-adjacent Super Bowl in nearly 30 years provided much of the entertainment at SoFi Stadium during commercial breaks.
The crowd cheered as Kevin Hart blew kisses, Chris Tucker and Charlize Theron danced and Doja Cat and Danny Trejo waved.
Jennifer Lopez didn’t seem to notice she was on the huge 360-degree screen at all.
And a shot of a man in a hoodie whose face was fully covered by a black mask who was seated with NFL player Antonio Brown set off social media speculation on his identity.
The loudest cheers came for local Los Angeles sports heroes, including Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, who wagged his tongue at the camera.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton