Lady Gaga’s feel-good half­time show:

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - JON PARELES

Lady Gaga went for one big, glit­ter­ing, di­verse party with her Su­per Bowl half­time show. “We’re here to make you feel good,” she de­clared mid-set. At her NFL news con­fer­ence, she had promised a state­ment of “in­clu­sion,” an up­beat and un­con­tro­ver­sial stance, and she made good on it as she be­gan her set, singing a few lines each of “God Bless Amer­ica” and “This Land Is Your Land” and recit­ing the “one na­tion in­di­vis­i­ble” con­clu­sion of the Pledge of Al­le­giance.

Wear­ing a shiny, sil­very, big-shoul­dered sci-fi body­suit and match­ing high-heeled boots, with a glit­tery mask painted around her eyes, Lady Gaga was low­ered through the air, on sus­pen­sion ca­bles, into NRG Sta­dium in Hous­ton, show­ing off a trapeze-like flip. And she started belt­ing her hits, with a nod to the lo­cal au­di­ence: “Poker Face” an­nounced, “I want to hold ’em like they do in Texas.”

One of those hits was “Born This Way,” her dance-floor an­them of self-ac­cep­tance for all kinds of peo­ple. “You’re black, white, beige, chola de­scent / You’re Le­banese, you’re ori­ent,” she sang, and later, “No mat­ter gay, straight, or bi / Les­bian, trans­gen­dered life / I’m on the right track baby / I was born to sur­vive.” It was doubt­less the first time the word “trans­gen­dered” had been sung at a Su­per Bowl half­time show. Dozens of dancers of mul­ti­ple skin tones and gen­ders joined her, match­ing her moves in ex­ul­tant line dances and em­body­ing her mes­sage of em­pow­er­ment as a shared cel­e­bra­tion.

But most of the show was sim­ply about full-tilt pop fun: songs like “Tele­phone,” about danc­ing at clubs, and “Bad Ro­mance,” about fall­ing in love and lust. It was a megamix of her songs span­ning her ca­reer, from her 2008 de­but sin­gle, “Just Dance,” to “Mil­lion Rea­sons,” the power bal­lad from her 2016 al­bum, “Joanne.” She sang “Mil­lion Rea­sons” from a pi­ano as peo­ple wav­ing or­ange elec­tric torches made pat­terns that ra­di­ated across the foot­ball field; that was her rel­a­tively still point in a fiercely ath­letic per­for­mance. “The Su­per Bowl is what cham­pi­ons are made of,” she de­clared as “Bad Ro­mance” revved up.

Lady Gaga has proudly pre­sented her­self as the con­tin­u­a­tion of gen­er­a­tions of song-and-dance showbiz troupers, a tra­di­tion of fer­vent ef­fort and well-re­hearsed spec­ta­cle de­liv­ered with joy. She sang with hard­work­ing gusto through­out the set, even as she cov­ered con­sid­er­able yardage strut­ting and kick­ing, pranc­ing and ges­tic­u­lat­ing, pump­ing her hips and shak­ing hands with fans.

It was a show of shiny cos­tumes and big smiles, of a huge group of dancers all shar­ing the same moves, an out­pour­ing of en­ergy that was ea­ger to please ev­ery­body. Lady Gaga ended it with one last strut, up a ramp, and a self­con­grat­u­la­tory gesture that has been used by both rap­pers and an ex-pres­i­dent: a mi­cro­phone drop, earned with sweat.


Lady Gaga was joined by dancers of mul­ti­ple skin tones for her half­time show dur­ing Su­per Bowl LI Sun­day.

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