10 Things We’d Die to See During Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl Halftime Show
Lady Gaga, one of the greatest pop stars of all time, is officially set to headline the 2017 Super Bowl Halftime Show, and I couldn’t be more excited.
After weeks of rumors, Gaga officially confirmed the news herself last night. On Feb. 5, 2017, she will hit the Super Bowl stage in Houston, TX, joining the ranks of legends like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson, who’ve headlined in years previous.
Nobody knows what to expect from one of the more unpredictable chameleons of popular culture, although this much is clear: she always puts on a good show. As I begin ticking off the days on my calendar, let’s give some thought to what we’d like to see happen in February. Gaga, make my monster dreams come true.
The Greatest of Her Greatest Hits
Gaga has three No. 1, 13 Top 10, and 23 overall Hot 100 hits to her name, so whittling down the setlist will prove difficult. The biggest crowd-pleasers in that bunch, however, are pretty indisputable:
- “Bad Romance”
- “Poker Face”
- “Just Dance”
- “The Edge of Glory”
- “Born This Way” (Yass, Gaga, be the first person to sing “gay” and “transgender” at the Super Bowl! But maybe some kind of remix, so people don’t resort to making “Express Yourself” comparisons.)
- “Perfect Illusion”
- I would also accept shorter versions of “Alejandro,” “Paparazzi,” “Telephone” (but only with Beyoncé), “LoveGame,” “Marry the Night,” and/or “Yoü & I.”
She’ll also almost certainly include another song or two from her forthcoming album, Joanne.
One or Two Surprises
It’s inevitable that the bulk of Gaga’s setlist will pay tribute to the hits that made her a superstar, but let us not forget that Gaga’s deep cuts often equal in greatness (and in may cases even surpass) the singles she’s released. It would be nice to hear parts of one or two great non-single Gaga songs: “Dance in the Dark,” “Heavy Metal Lover,” “Venus,” “Hair,” or “Teeth,” could make a (brief) appearance during the set, and I would die happy. (“So Happy I Could Die” is another option.)
A Few Collaborations, If We Must
Gaga can hold her own on any stage, even this one, and I wouldn’t be mad in the slightest if she performed the whole show alone. She doesn’t need to pull a 1989 Tour and trot out every famous person she’s ever crossed paths with or admired. As a performer, she’s beyond that level. That said, historically, most Super Bowl headliners bring out at least one or two guests, and Gaga will likely do the same. One obvious choice would be Florence Welch, who features on Gaga’s new album (#PromoForJoanne). Same goes for Beck. I could also see her inviting a legacy artist or two — Elton John, Brian May from Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, or similar — to join her for a juiced-up remix or cover. I imagine Mark Ronson will join her in some capacity, though my bet is that he’ll keep to the background on instruments. Of course, the dream would be to have Beyoncé come out and perform “Telephone” for the first time ever, but a part of me knows that has next to no chance of happening.
As much as I love and respect JazzGa, I don’t think this is the right venue for a Tony Bennett duet. Which reminds me…
No Time Spent Trying to Prove Herself
Gaga only has 13 or so minutes to put on the show of a lifetime, and she needn’t waste a second of that time trying to prove her talents as a singer — pop, jazz, or otherwise. We already know she can sing. She’s spent the last three years proving she has a world-class voice. Anyone who doesn’t already know it can simply refer back to her rendition of the national anthem at last year’s Super Bowl. (Or to her Sound of Music tribute. Or to her “Till It Happens to You” performance at this year’s Oscars. Or to any of the viral videos spawned from her Cheek to Cheek Tour with Tony.) So, no, she doesn’t need to slow things down and belt out a string of jazz covers and ballads to prove to the doubters and the haters that she’s a “real musician.” She is a real musician, period.
A Few Nods to Eras Past
The disco stick. The egg vessel. The LED glasses. The meat dress. The sparking bra. The fiber optic wig. The monster claw. The Koons ball. (The Volantis? Just kidding.) Gaga has in her arsenal a whole host of iconic props and inventions, and she would be wise to bring some of them out of the archives for her set. Some. Not all. There’s no reason Gaga needs to treat this show as a simple walk down memory lane, reliving glories from years past. But a few of the old tricks would delight fans both old and new.
And Some Nods to the Future
While I look forward to Gaga bringing back some of the aforementioned icons of her previous eras, I also expect she’ll bring some new creations with her to Houston. Who could even begin to imagine what those might be, but hopefully they will be big and surprising and exciting and crazy. Give us some imagery to take with us into the Joanne era and beyond.
A Truly Grand Piano
An integral element of so many of Gaga’s most memorable performances is her piano, which has taken on wild forms throughout the years. The keyboard inside the car and the fire piano on The Monster Ball Tour. The 20-foot high piano from her Royal Variety performance. The moving piano from this year’s David Bowie tribute at the Grammys. For the Super Bowl, Gaga should dream up her most outrageous piano yet, and she should use it, briefly, for a bit of “Yoü & I” or a short acoustic break.
Timeout for a Statement
Gaga has never shied away from speaking out about important issues, and it should be no different during the halftime show. In the past, she’s advocated for gay rights, sung about sexual assault survivors, spoken about mental health issues, and fought against the epidemic of bullying. She has an opportunity to push a message she cares deeply about out to an audience of more than 100 million people. She doesn’t need to make her entire set about social messages, but for Gaga to take a stage like this and not impart some kind of wisdom would go against her very character.
Spectacle, Spectacle, Spectacle
Gaga rose to fame partly on the strength of her ability as balls-to-the-wall live performer, and people are expecting to see that side of her again. Though she’s been toning things down for the last couple years, and it’s been thrilling, in a very different way, to watch that transformation, the Super Bowl requires epic grandeur and a certain amount of shock factor. We’ll need some fireworks and pyrotechnics. Captivating videos. Innovative technology. A remarkable stage design. Epic dance routines. Costume changes. Surprises and bold statements. All of it. And in 13 minutes.
Complete and Total Slayage
Regardless of everything I wrote above, everything I wish for, all Gaga really needs to do is bring it. The good news is that I know she will, because she always does. So bring it, Queen! Make ‘em remember why you’re the greatest pop star to emerge in the last decade.