Given the nation’s current political climate, it would come as no surprise if an artist such as Lady Gaga — who has been known for her social activism — might choose the enormous stage of Super Bowl LI to make a statement reflecting her own views.
Certainly many were considering this possibility at halftime, with the Atlanta Falcons holding what seemed to be a commanding 21-3 lead. But Lady Gaga — who performed the national anthem at last year’s Super Bowl — surprised everyone with a performance that managed to lift everyone’s spirits.
Gaga had been hinting at an entrance that would raise the roof, and she delivered by starting her show at the very top of Houston’s NRG Stadium, clad in an otherworldly silver bodysuit. There, she opened up with a simple medley of “God Bless America,” “This Land Is Your Land,” and the last few words of the Pledge of Allegiance as red and blue drones danced in the sky behind her, culminating in a flag pattern as she concluded. While her choice to sing the latter song, a Woody Guthrie protest anthem that continues to be played often at rallies, could have been interpreted as a political statement, it was a subtle, inclusive, and overall patriotic one to please viewers of all stripes.
From there, the singer dived through the roof into the stadium — and, anchored by cords, launched into an aerial rendition of her hit “Poker Face” while performing Cirque de Soleil-worthy suspended acrobatics.
Gaga didn’t rest for a second after her athletic performance in the air. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she was joined by a dynamic troupe of dancers to groove through a variety of her best hits, including “Born This Way,” “Telephone,” and “Just Dance.”
Indeed, the show was one of the few in recent years that was powered solely on choreography, talent, and pure energy — no special guests, no tricks, and very little effects beyond old-school glow torches and fireworks.
The singer slowed down for a moment in the middle of her set, sitting down at a piano to perform “Million Reasons” for the crowd, as well as give a shout-out to her parents. “Hey, Dad,” she called out. “Hi, Mom!”
Although well known for her love of costumes, Gaga kept it easy in this arena too, changing only once. She swapped her bodysuit for a two-piece for her finale, “Bad Romance” — and even kept it in the same color family so not as to distract from what really mattered: the music.
As the final song ended, fireworks exploded outside the stadium, and the crowd was left with the very-much-needed — and rejuvenating — reminder that, yes, we are all “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Super Bowl LI was held in Houston’s NRG Stadium on Feb. 5 between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.