Somehow Lady Gaga, who jumped off the roof of the NRG Stadium in Houston to start her Super Bowl LI halftime show, still ended up playing things a little too safe.
The native New Yorker’s 13-minute extravaganza was designed as a big-budget crowd-pleaser, focusing on her biggest hits, including “Poker Face” and “Just Dance,” ending with her smash “Bad Romance.”
Gaga began on the stadium roof, with a clever combination of “God Bless America” and what many see as its opposite, Woody Guthrie’s protest song “This Land Is Your Land.” But that subtly was likely lost on many and any worries about Gaga turning her halftime show platform into some sort of political protest were put to rest.
The ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton who has already protested in front of Trump Tower, said before her show that she saw the event as a way to show those who think they are different from her and her fans that they really all have plenty in common.
She stuck to that, offering the athletic, dance-heavy spectacle as a breezy good time marked by her powerful voice singing live while dancing impressively. The only other “edgy” bit of her performance was her decision to include the gay rights anthem “Born This Way.” (In a way, The Schuyler Sisters – Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones from the original cast of “Hamilton” – offered a more direct protest by tweaking the lyrics to their version of “America the Beautiful” before the game. They inserted the word “sisterhood” into the line “And crown thy good with brotherhood.”)
Considering how most of Gaga’s music videos looked like Super Bowl extravaganzas already, it didn’t take much to adapt them to a stadium, though some of her transitions from one level of the stage to another were often breathtaking as she delivered acrobatics in the air.
“We’re here to make you feel good,” Gaga said, before breaking into her current single, “Million Reasons” on the piano. “You ready to feel good with us?”
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Gaga delivered a feel-good moment, but not enough of one to rank among the greatest in halftime show history.