When Super Bowl 51 began on Sunday Feb. 5, thousands of fans were filled with excitement and curiosity, wondering if the four-time Super Bowl winners—the New England Patriots—would take home the Lombardi trophy yet again. But perhaps even a bigger sense of mystery surrounded Lady Gaga and her half time show.
With various rumors floating around about what the famously over-the-top pop star would surprise us with next, many couldn’t wait to see which rumors proved true.
One of the biggest issues surrounding Gaga’s performance was the prohibition of any political statement from the star. Known as an outspoken celebrity, Gaga’s political affiliations are no mystery. Yet rumors ran rampant that the singer was explicitly told not to “bring anything up about the election, or mention Donald Trump.” The National Football League, however, denied this vehemently, telling the media that this rumor was “nonsense.”
When the performance finally began, any questions about a political statement were immediately answered, as Gaga kicked off her gig—while standing on the roof of the stadium, surrounded by red and blue lights—with a rendition of “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Super Bowl half-time performers are not usually in the habit of starting their performances with patriotic songs—that right is usually reserved for the singer of the National Anthem. Although football is an exclusively American sport, it seems to be clear that the inclusion of “This Land is Your Land” is meant to be a statement regarding President Trump’s recent travel ban.
In addition to these patriotic anthems, Gaga also quoted the Pledge of Allegiance, announcing, “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Some are also arguing that the inclusion of one of Gaga’s more inspiring and powerful songs, “Born This Way,” was also a political statement about inclusion.
It wasn’t all political, though. Many were just as excited to witness what was sure to be an amazing and entertaining show from one of the world’s top pop stars. And Gaga did not disappoint her “little monsters.”
Starting the show off by leaping down from the roof and onto the stage below, Gaga began her 13-minute performance with one of her very first hits, “Poker Face.” With an army of back-up dancers and a keytar, the stadium watched in excitement as the star strutted and danced around the stage in a bedazzled body suit, belting out her top hits.
It was also rumored that Beyoncé—who recently announced her pregnancy with twins—would make a guest appearance, as she and Gaga collaborated in 2010 on “Telephone.” And while she did perform the hit, her partner was absent. But this should not come as a shock, as Gaga posted on Instagram prior to the show, thanking her fans and stating that “I’m doing these 13 minutes solo!”
Another one of Gaga’s partners, Tony Bennett, made a seconds-long appearance before the performance began, cutely introducing the show with a bottle of Pepsi.
For the most part, Gaga’s set list was a blast from the past—many songs dating back to her early career in the 2000s, apart from a few more recent hits. Of course, Gaga’s new album, Joanne, made an appearance with one of its more popular songs, “Million Reasons.”
For this newest hit—and arguably the most serious song of the night—Gaga took to the piano. Some are criticizing the inclusion of this song, citing its stylistic differences from the rest of the set list, but what would be a Gaga show without variation?
After Gaga ended the show by climbing to the top of a metal staircase, throwing her microphone into the crowd and hurling herself down, the crowd—and the Internet—exploded. Millions are praising Gaga not only for her musical and entertainment prowess, but also for her positive and optimistic attitude. Despite her fame, the star has managed to stay humble and has become a spokesperson for individualism and acceptance.
It’s no secret that 2017 has begun as a tumultuous year, with much of the nation divided politically. But it seems that Lady Gaga was a more than appropriate choice to deliver a message of togetherness and cooperation to the nation.