The best part of Super Bowl LI’s halftime show? There will be absolutely zero Coldplay involved.
Sunday’s extravaganza will eschew the typical tradition of rolling out a trio acts, instead focusing on a singular performer and her sidekick. LI’s headliner? Lady Gaga.
The Fame Monster artist was originally rumored to be flying solo, one year after Beyonce, Coldplay, and Bruno Mars choked the field at Levi’s Stadium and two since Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliott teamed up for an eclectic performance that catapulted Left Shark into the public consciousness. Instead, she’ll team up with San Francisco’s favorite nonagenarian — the legendary Tony Bennett — who will contribute a brief video introduction to help kick off the event.
Lady Gaga, never one to avoid spectacle, will have to step up her game Sunday. She’ll be the focus of more than 72,000 live fans and hundreds of millions more across the globe on television. The Grammy-winning chanteuse has some grand plans in store for her performance; reports swirled midway through January she wanted to find a way to sing from the retractable roof of NRG Stadium.
Earlier this week on Mix 104.1’s Karson & Kennedy, the 30-year-old singer revealed that the idea came from her sister, who said “I know, let’s suspend you in the air!” However, Lady Gaga stopped short of confirming whether she would open the show on the roof.
While taking a zipline down to the field like an even more glorious Shawn Michaels might not be in play, the superstar should be able to put together one hell of a playlist for her 15-20 minute set. In October, she released Joanne, her sixth studio album, which spawned the top-50 hit “Perfect Illusion.”
But fans won’t be especially interested in her newer stuff, most of which represents a dropoff from her critical and commercial peak. Gaga hasn’t had a No. 1 hit on the Billboard U.S. charts since 2011, when her anthem Born This Way rocketed to the top of the weekly listing. While the intervening five years since have left her peaking at merely “very good,” her foundation of hits from 2008-10 will give her plenty of ammo to work with.
Her first two major singles as a solo artist, “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” were both mega-hits that entered the zeitgeist and continue to get radio airplay eight years later. “LoveGame,” “Paparazzi,” and Beyonce team-up “Telephone” followed. Then, smack dab in the middle of 2010, she released arguably her greatest work — the generation-defining “Bad Romance.”
Gaga is no stranger to the Super Bowl, however. She kicked off the Super Bowl 50’s festivities by singing the national anthem, making this her second straight appearance at the big game. This time, she’ll have more than 2:23 to make her mark.
For Bennett, his performance Sunday will be his first at the Super Bowl, but will come alongside a familiar face. The World War II veteran teamed up with Gaga, 60 years younger, for the Cheek to Cheek album and subsequent tour. The two performed at jazz festivals throughout the world in 2015, leading to Sunday’s historic appearance. When Bennett takes the stage at Super Bowl LI, he will be the oldest performer to do the halftime show, even if he’s only appearing via video screen.
How to watch
When: Sunday, Feb. 5
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Online: FOX Sports GO