By Katharine Grubb
February 9, 2017
I think we can all agree that the 51st Super Bowl will be one for the books for a multitude of reasons. Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, the Schuyler sisters from the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton” started the show off with a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful” which included not only the original lyric “brotherhood” but also had an added “and sisterhood” that made the crowd go wild. The Patriots made a surprising comeback in the second half, much to the disappointment of the Falcons fans, and the commercials were both comical and culturally awakening. But the thing that will be most talked about by almost everyone for months to come is Lady Gaga’s halftime show. The internet is already churning out memes to commemorate the event, some describing it as a Lady Gaga concert that just happened to be hosting a football game on the side. Bryan Cranston jokingly remarked on Twitter, “Lady Gaga covered more ground on the field than the Patriots.” (The only reason half of us were watching was for Gaga.) No matter what your opinion is of her as a person, it’s not hard to admit that she’s an incredible performer, and Super Bowl LI halftime show was proof of that.
Let’s talk about the beginning of the show. Lady Gaga starts off standing on the open roof of the Super Bowl stadium in Houston. Her opening medley was met with cheers and screams from the audience below. To add to the space-like effect that her glittering costume provided was a huge cluster of drones twinkling like stars in the dark sky behind her. Throughout the show they changed positions and colors, which is impressive on its own. Then, as if standing on top of a 200-ft. building wasn’t enough, Gaga dove off the side of the roof and floated to the stage via harness and wire. She showed off her amazing acrobatic skills and landed flawlessly in front of the crowd, which had been rightfully stunned by her daring act. The only thing that could’ve made this show better would be if it had been real, because it was confirmed that Gaga faked the jump and instead prerecorded footage of her standing on the roof to go along with the show. The rest of the show was a combination of her most popular songs with multiple costume changes and complicated choreography. At one point, Lady Gaga was literally carried from one point on the stage to another by a very muscular male backup dancer, making us wish that we all had the sort of money that allows for personal carriers. The large group of people surrounding the stage holding glowing yellow wands gave the field a fairy-like quality that was stunning from a distance. Overall, it was an impressive visual piece.
There had been rumors that Lady Gaga’s performance would contain a political statement fired directly at our very own president-elect Donald Trump, and while nothing about her shows is ever subtle, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly which part was a callout on Trump, because the whole performance seemed to be full of moments Trump would be sure to criticize. It may have been her very beginning song, which was a medley of “God Bless America” that included the lyrics “this land is your land, this land is our land,” which is speculated to be disapproval of Donald Trump’s latest crackdown on immigration laws. It may also have been when she hyped the crowd up with one of her most-listened-to songs “Born This Way,” which contains the lyrics “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby. I was born to survive.” Donald Trump and his vice president Mike Pence have both been very vocal about their negative opinions of the LGBT+ community, so this could have been an attack on Mike Pence’s rumored belief in conversion therapy. Or maybe Gaga’s callout was when she addressed the audience during a song change, exclaiming “the Super Bowl is what Trump world is about,” which could have multiple meanings. Either way, the proud advocate of LGBT+ rightsand a known feminist’s superstar performance was the sort of raw, artistic and social awareness of which our country needed to be reminded.