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Feel-good vibes seemed to be the key theme of Gaga’s performance, despite viewer anticipation that the halftime show would be turned into a political spectacle.
Instead Gaga’s halftime performance was packed with acrobatic flips and explosions, but went on without any jarring political statements or guest stars.
Gaga kicked off the show on top of Houston’s NRG stadium with a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” The song has historically been viewed a protest anthem—and Guthrie remembered as a communist—making it an interesting pick. After reciting a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance, Gaga dived into the stadium.
Gaga performed portions of her hits, including “Poker Face,” “Just Dance,” and “Telephone”—alas, with no surprise performance from Beyoncé, who was originally featured on the track.
Gaga even performed “Born This Way,” her controversial hit single from 2011. The song is a nod toward the LGBTQ community and has been received critically by more conservative critics.
She ended the show yelling “Super Bowl 51,” catching a football and jumping off stage.
The NFL said after Gaga’s performance that there were 41,000 tweets per minute posted to Twitter with the word “Gaga” in it. Most viewers responded favorably, referencing the fireworks and stunts. Some, however, felt disappointed the performance wasn’t more political.
Gaga shared at a press conference on Thursday that the performance would represent “equality” and “inclusion.” After her performance, it’s clear that inclusiveness was intended to extend even to those who don’t necessarily support her political biases.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.