Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show Was a Huge Disappointment
Galore has a lot of feels about Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show — so many that we are writing multiple pieces about it. The following review reflects the feelings of its author and not the feelings of Galore. If you want to hear from someone who actually enjoyed the show, click here.
Lady Gaga used to be punk.
Lady Gaga was so punk, she heard a rumor that she had a dick and embraced it.
Lady Gaga was so punk, she wore a dress made of raw meat to an awards show to make a point.
Lady Gaga was so punk, she made out with another woman in a music video, but not in an “tee hee look how cute I am for kissing a girl” way — in a queer-for-queerness’s-sake way.
And what did Lady Gaga show up in that year? Drag. And she stayed the f*ck in character the entire show.
Like, what a freak! What a freak, and what a genius.
At her prime, no one knew how to push boundaries like Lady Gaga. She was covering ground Madonna hadn’t even touched.
But over the past few years, coming off of the disappointment of “Artpop,” Lady Gaga’s been rebranding. And as her performance at Super Bowl LI showed, her new brand is just boring.
Lady Gaga’s performance started with a perfect opportunity for her to make a stir — she was standing on top of the football stadium singing a brief medley of patriotic songs. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you were likely expecting her to make a political statement. She was one of the first celebrities to openly protest Donald Trump after the election, and you know damn well she made sure a camera crew was there. After all, and she’s never been one to shy away from controversy.
Plus, there were rumors that the NFL was trying to muzzle her and forbid her for saying anything political. I figured this was a setup to make her look defiant when she did speak out at the Super Bowl. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time a star did something controversial at the Super Bowl. That happens constantly, and in so many different ways, ranging from Beyoncé putting her dancers in Black Panther-esque costumes to Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson’s nipple to M.I.A. flipping the bird during her performance with Madonna.
Hmmm, looks like it’s mainly women of color who dare to defy the NFL powers that be in order to make a point. Interesting, huh?
Instead, the story about the NFL muzzling Gaga was probably just the truth: they said she couldn’t speak out, and she complied.
Not punk, Gaga. Not punk.
Instead of saying anything openly political, she offered the ultimate lame white girl lip service to equality and recited part of the Pledge of Allegiance, reminding us we are “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” The Pledge of freaking Allegiance, you guys. Is she a pop star or a vice principal?
Later on in the show, she had another opportunity to make a statement, but opted not to. Instead, she said, “America, world, how’re you doing tonight? We’re here to make you feel good. You want to feel good with us?”
And that was it.
She basically did the equivalent of that girl from high school on your Facebook saying, “ugh, I’m so sick of the political talk, guys! Why can’t we all just get along?!”
That approach works if the biggest problem in your life is the fact that you’re being made to think critically about something, but not everyone is so lucky. Saying stuff like that veers dangerously close to “all lives matter” territory. We have got to stop doing this, you guys. This is part of why Trump won.
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Maybe Lady Gaga didn’t want to make the most newsworthy part of her Super Bowl performance revolve around someone else, that someone being Trump, and that’s why she didn’t mention anything political. That’s valid, but it doesn’t make for thought-provoking entertainment. It makes for generic entertainment that you’d find on a cruise ship or in a dinner theatre. You’d expect it from some other Tisch graduate, but not Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga was supposed to be punk.
Of course, the performance was technically solid. Lady Gaga’s voice sounded great, the dancers were on point, she did a medley of old songs instead of torturing us with the new stuff.
In fact, there was barely any hint of the new pop-country identity she had started to forge with “Joanne.” The ripped-jorts, underboob, pink-and-blue cowboy hat aesthetic wasn’t even hinted at.
As a result, the whole thing felt like 2009 Gaga Lite. There were flickers of her old self — crazy eye makeup, a sparkly leotard. But the little touches that made the old Gaga so interesting were nowhere to be found.
The cool thing about Lady Gaga back in the day was that she took the blueprint for being a blonde pop star, and she blew it up and messed with it until it was almost grotesque. She had the requisite blonde hair, hot bod, and skimpy outfits. But just when you thought she might be in sex symbol territory, she’d throw in a giant monster claw or cover herself with blood. Punk.
But at this performance, she took away everything that made her interesting in the first place. She was a shadow of her former self.
Lady Gaga doesn’t seem to want to provoke anymore — she just wants to perform. And that’s fine. She’s talented enough. But when you take social commentary out Lady Gaga’s performances, well… then you have Katy Perry. And we already have Katy Perry. Katy Perry’s not punk.
Yes, Lady Gaga did some pretty impressive harness-work (is that a thing?) but we’ve already seen Pink sing while flying on a trapeze with the greatest of ease, many many many times. And at this time in her career, Pink is more punk than Gaga. Let that sink in: Pink, who your mom probably loves, is edgier than Gaga now. How sad.
At the end of Lady Gaga’s performance, she dropped her sparkly mic, then caught a football and jumped off the stage, seemingly into some sort of pop culture abyss.
As our entertainment writer Maria Pasquini pointed out, this gesture was pretty appropriate, but probably not in the way Gaga intended.
Like Lady Gaga literally just dropped her mic and jumped to her death holding a football – could that be any more symbolic?
— Maria Pasquini (@mlsqueenz) February 6, 2017
And by jumped to her death I mean she fell out of sight of the cameras, which is pretty much the same thing for a public persona.
— Maria Pasquini (@mlsqueenz) February 6, 2017
With this performance, Lady Gaga has made it perfectly clear that she’d rather appease the masses than provoke. That’s fine for her, but it’s not what OG Gaga fans signed up for. So as someone who once looked at Gaga as a DGAF icon, I’m sad to say it, but I’m over her.
Watch it below if you want, I guess.
— NFL (@NFL) February 6, 2017