Five must-have elements of past Super Bowl performances that Lady Gaga can refashion in her own image this Sunday
ady Gagas Super Bowl half-time performance this Sunday will be the result of her longstanding pop scholarship, which of course extends to pop musics premier showcase for its top artists. The thing is, its such a big world stage in terms of how many people see it and its been done so many times, Gaga L said while prepping for the big show in January. I think the challenge is to look at it and say, What can I do differently, how can I elevate certain little things here and there and also make it about the music?
An admirable goal, but history is littered with Super Bowl half-time performers who tried something different and found themselves pariahs. With that in mind, here are five must-have elements of the Super Bowl half-time show that Gaga can refashion in her own image this Sunday.
Make a big entrance
Nicki Minaj and Madonna perform during the Super Bowl XLVI half-time show. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
When Madonna came out for her show in 2012, she asserted herself as pop royalty by arriving on the Lucas Oil Stadium field on a giant throne. Reports that Gaga
has her sights set on a rooftop performance shades of the Beatles! might indicate that shes thinking of making a similarly big splash. (Literally, if theres rain; one of the reported plans for transporting her between the domed stadiums roof and its field involves cutting a hole in NRG Stadiums protective covering.)
Keep the momentum going
One of the problems with Gagas catalog as of late has been the unfocused nature of her songwriting; while Joanne was a vast improvement on 2013s messy, sprawling Artpop, it still gets stuck in musical cul-de-sacs at times. Perfect Illusion, the albums glammed-up lead single, brings to mind the theme-park ride known as the Gravitron its blatant channeling of Laura Branigans romantic desperation is enjoyable at first, although after a while the listener feels like shes being whipped around in circles for four or so minutes. But the relatively brief nature of the half-time show (recent spectacles have hovered somewhere around the 13- or 14-minute mark) means that she can medley it up, which will allow her to hit her songs high points in rapid succession and even promote some lesser-heard cuts from Joanne, which spent last week at number 58 on the Billboard 200.
Keep your guests close to your vest
The Super Bowl half-time show programmers have recently re-embraced pop, which languished in NFL exile for a few years after Justin Timberlakes
2004 disrobing of Janet Jackson. But theres still a tentativeness about the shift, which is evidenced by the cramming of guests on to the stage for any performer who exists out of the classic-rock paradigm (or whose name is Beyonc). Coldplay was the scheduled headliner last year, but Beyoncs just-released thunderbolt Formation and Bruno Marss Minneapolis Sound throwback Uptown Funk stole Chris Martins thunder; Madonnas deeper catalog was cast aside in favor of the Minaj/MIA trifle Give Me All Your Luvin and two LMFAO songs; and poor Bruno Mars had to deal with the Red Hot Chili Peppers homing in on his territory. Gagas biggest collaborations in recent years have involved much-beloved crooner Tony Bennett and the even more beloved Beyonc who hails from the Super Bowl setting of Houston and just made some waves of her own.
Offer up some gif-able moments
Katy Perry and the sharks. Photograph: David J. Phillip/AP
Bruce Springsteens stage-long slide in 2009 provided an eye-popping half-time show moment, as did Beyoncs getting bodied in 2013. Gagas penchant for sleekly controlled dance moves and showy costumes from the oversized pink cowboy hat that defines the Joanne era to
wearing a meat dress will certainly work in her favor here, although lets hope she doesnt try to conjure up the memory of the lackadaisical Left Shark, who became beloved after sleepwalking through Katy Perrys 2015 performance of the bouncy California Gurls.
Pull out an old reliable for a huge finish
While matching the drama of Princes 2007 set-closing performance of Purple Rain which was accompanied by, no lie, rain coming down in Miami will probably be impossible for any Super Bowl half-time performer who hasnt brokered a deal with Mother Nature, Gaga certainly has songs that can hike up the spectacle and get the crowds in NRG Stadium and huddled in front of televisions around America fired up for the games second half. Bad Romance, Gagas 2009 Fame Monster epic, is the obvious choice here; not only does it have a hand gesture for everyone to join in on, but its closing growl of want-yohhh-bad-roohh-ohh-mannnce will allow for a big finish where Gaga holds a pose while fireworks blast around the stadium. But The Edge Of Glory, Gagas 2011 attempt to distill the entire Footloose soundtrack into a single track, might be an even better choice especially if she honors the late Clarence Clemonss contribution to the song by inviting his son Jake to sit in on the solo.