Super Bowl 2023 highlights: Troy Kotsur poetic signing and Rihanna’s greatness

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Rihanna performs onstage during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Rihanna performs onstage during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Chris Stapleton absolutely killed it with his stirring rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl LVII between the Chiefs and the Eagles. It was so good, it moved several to tears.

We need Troy Kotsur for every Super Bowl

If that wasn’t inspiring enough, how about the pure poetry expressed by CODA’s Troy Kotsur, one of three ASL translators for the song? Kotsur said he was “honored” to perform the service in his home state. The other two ASL interpreters were Colin Denny and Justina Miles at the State Farm Stadium event in Glendale, Ariz.

"“The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) invited me here and it’s so great to see this diversity representing different types of deaf communities,” said the Mesa, AZ native during a Feb. 9 press conference, according to E News. “When they asked me, ‘Hey Troy, would you mind signing the national anthem at the Super Bowl?’ I said, ‘Yeah, sure. I’m in.'”"

But what the 54-year-old Kotsur performed was lyrical poetry on a big stage, with several commenting on how emotionally resonating his interpretation was.

Kotsur also paid homage to the anthem’s writer, Francis Scott Key, saying “I’m adding a little salt and pepper that will make it even more poetic, even more delicious. It’s a visual art,” he added, via The Independent.

"“He actually witnessed what happened during the Revolutionary War and seeing that the flag was still there, and the smoke and the fire and even through it all, the flag had remained,” Troy said. “I’m becoming Francis and put myself in his shoes and tell it from his perspective.”“I’m going to show you all what I’m seeing and what he wrote, which was pure poetry,” he added. “I’m going to add in my personality as an artist, and put it all out there to show you all my work.”"

You can read a full interview in Interview with Troy Kotsur and his interpretation process.

Rihanna returns in an ultimate way

Since it had been about seven years since the live performance and her last album, anticipation was huge for the halftime show featuring musical artist Rihanna. Considering that she had given birth to her nine-month-old son last year, it only generated more excitement about her long absence and subsequent return to the stage.

Suspended high above the 50-yard line, resplendent in an all-red, almost-operatic ensemble—which she elaborated had been inspired by Andre Leon Talley—she steadied herself with a steely gaze and launched into her hit “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Even if she was securely attached to the seemingly floating platform, the image was nothing short of spectacular, and as she continued with her greatest hits, including “All of the Lights,” “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl (in the World),” and snippets of “Work,” “Rude Boy.” “Umbrella” (my personal favorite), and “Diamonds,” the effect was nothing short of astonishing. She was also accompanied by an awesome ASL interpreter:

Rihanna performed the set in a relaxed manner, flanked by energized dancers, never upstaging them and acting more like a cheerleader. Whether it was due to her second pregnancy (confirmed the day after) or precautions due to the elaborate costumes and/or staging of moving/floating platforms, it didn’t really matter in the end. The overall spectacle was a marvel of performance art and set the stadium on fire. As far as halftime shows go, it was a huge success (although Lady Gaga still sets the standard, and is one of the few who insisted on not lip-syncing).

If there’s one criticism, as much as I love Rihanna’s music, it seemed obvious that she was lip-syncing, at least some of it, although the performance vision was still phenomenal.

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What a night for the Chiefs, what a night for MVP Patrick Mahomes, and what a night for our beautiful national anthem and its poetry. Until Super Bowl LVIII.