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Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime Show More Mediocre Than Monster – Review

Deadline logo Deadline 2/6/2017 Dominic Patten
© Provided by Deadline

Surrounded by dozens of drones, dancers and a five-second delay, Lady Gaga’s hits-heavy Super Bowl LI halftime performance today on Fox was more conventional than controversial.

Beginning on top of Houston’s NRG Stadium singing parts of “God Bless America” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” last year’s National Anthem singer kicked off her ultimately mediocre 13-minute spectacle as the score stood at 21-3 in favor of the Atlanta Falcons over the New England Patriots. After those two potentially loaded tines, Gaga followed by a predicted leap onto the field and her 2008 tune “Poker Face” followed by 2011’s “Born This Way” — plenty lot of pyrotechnics but no overt mention of politics on Sunday.

Straight off the 50-yard line, Gaga was at the very least a leap ahead of the borefest that was Super Bowl 50’s Coldplay-led halftime show. Aided by Bruno Mars, that gig last year by the bland British band was only saved by a short Black Power-themed but fortunately beat-heavy performance from Beyoncé. However, hobbled as almost all Super Bowl halftime shows are by anticipation, expectation, the league and the FCC-regulated broadcast networks, the NFL-produced Pepsi Zero-sponsored pageant of sorts for Super Bowl 2017 suffered from playing it way too safe — and not just because Gaga was a runner-up choice after Adele had turned down the league.

With that now-normal delay from Fox — in case things went all Janet Jackson like in 2004 or M.I.A. brandishing a middle finger in 2012 in her appearance with Madonna — today’s dance-move filled “Bad Romance”-performing and mic-drop-concluding show delivered everything one of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters’ fan base could want. But not much more than you’d see on one of the superstar’s tours.

“America, world, how you dong tonight,” Gaga said a couple of songs in to the crowd and TV viewership. “We’re here to make you feel good – you want to feel good with us?” she added making her intent clear and the NFL breath easy.

Far from hitting the standard-setting heights of U2’s 9/11 tribute in 2002 and the now departed but eternally mourned Prince’s dynamic and eclectic 2007 show, the self-described Mother Monster’s 12-minute mad dash in the Super Bowl spotlight was more in line with the likes of Katy Perry’s show with surprise guest Missy Elliot from 2015. As was the case two years ago — it now seems to be the halftime show playbook — Gaga’s M.O. overall had a middle-of-the-road tone that can be best characterized by a “do no harm” approach – at the climax of a season that has seen ratings down 9% for the NFL from last year and 6% lower in the playoffs.

Among the more than 71,000 fans in the Texas mega-stadium today watching the big game and at least some of Gaga’s short set were Vice President Mike Pence; Fox Network Group bosses Dana Walden and Gary Newman; Fox stars Gordon Ramsay, Lethal Weapon’s Clayne Crawford, Rosewood’s Morris Chestnut, Lucifer’s Tom Ellis, Making History’s Adam Pally and Yassir Lester. Also attending this year’s Super Bowl is Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits and EP Howard Gordon of the post-game-debuting 24: Legacy and Tom Hardy and Noah Hawley of sister cabler FX’s Taboo and the about-to-premiere Legion.

Boston boy Mark Wahlberg was in the house too, as were John Legend and Chrissy Teigen plus former Secretary of State James Baker with Pence.

In many ways, the Grammy- and Golden Globes-winning Stefani Germanotta aka Gaga kept her word of earlier this week when teasing out what tonight’s performance would be all about. “The only statements that I’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I’ve been consistently making throughout my career,” the singer, LGBTQ and Hilary Clinton-supporting and American Horror Story actress said in a press conference February 2. “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and that the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness. My performance will uphold those philosophies.”

And, for better or worse, but mainly unexceptionally, that’s exactly what Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show did.

(UPDATE, 6:35 PM: At least two Lady Gaga fans really like the Mother Monster’s Super Bowl halftime show – Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

“I’m one of 100 million Super Bowl fans that just went Gaga for the Lady and her message for us all,” the former Presidential candidate tweeted out tonight after the American Horror Story actress and long time supporter’s performance.

Having partnered with Gaga on stopping sexual assault on campus the last several years, the ex-Vice-President also took to social media to give a thumbs up:

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