Lady Gaga delivered an explosive greatest hits medley at the Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show. The pop chameleon tore through "Poker Face," "Born This Way," "Telephone," "Just Dance," "Million Reasons" and "Bad Romance," assisted by a stage-full of backing dancers and illuminated by a sky-full of starry drones.
Tony Bennett, who collaborated with Gaga on the 2014 jazz album Cheek to Cheek, delivered a brief video intro. Gaga then opened things up by belting an operatic "God Bless America" before dropping into the arena to the synth strains of "Poker Face." Throughout the epic performance, Gaga jumped from the microphone to keytar to piano, shouted out her parents in the audience, employed Thriller-esque choreography and donned some glammy football gear. She closed the show with a bad-ass mic drop and stage jump – a punk rock finale to a set of pure pop bliss.
During a pre-Super Bowl news conference on Thursday, reporters asked Gaga if her performance would explicitly protest Donald Trump. But the singer played coy on the details, saying the event would remain true to the statements she's consistently made throughout her career.
"I believe in a passion for inclusion," she said. "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. That kid that couldn't get a seat at the cool kids' table, and that kid that was kicked out of the house because his mom and dad didn't accept him for who he was? That kid is going to have the stage for 13 minutes. And I'm excited to give it to them."
Gaga is expected to announce a tour in support of her fifth studio album, Joanne, after the Super Bowl on February 5th.
The singer was rumored to be headlining the event for months, and the NFL finally announced her participation last September. Adele claimed to have been offered the gig before shooting down the NFL: "That show is not about music," she told the audience during a Los Angeles concert.
In a revealing October interview with Howard Stern, Gaga explained that her new album, Joanne, helped her land the Halftime Show gig. "Basically, the NFL wanted to talk to us about doing the Halftime Show, but they wanted to hear the record," she said. "So I played them Joanne, and they loved it. And it was the record that sealed the deal."
Last year, the singer performed a striking of "The Star Spangled Banner" before Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara, California's Levi's Stadium. Coldplay headlined the epic 2016 show, assisted by the show-stealing Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.