After much anticipation and speculation, pop mega-star Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI halftime show performance was devoid of the politics we were all hoping to see.
Journalists from some of the country’s biggest news outlets raked the “Bad Romance” singer over the coals for failing to bash President Donald Trump’s immigration and national security policies, specifically his stupid refugee moratorium.
1. Los Angeles Times: “Lady Gaga misses her Super Bowl moment to say something profound”
Los Angeles Times reporter Mikael Wood scolded Gaga for failing to deliver “the kind of bold, banner-waving performance for which Lady Gaga is known (and loved).”
“Instead, the 30-year-old singer offered up a disappointing 12-minute medley that lacked any edge or tension yet also failed for the most part to deliver the kind of warm reassurance that [Tony] Bennett might’ve mustered.”
In the end, Wood says, Gaga’s was a “tightly choreographed production that did little to acknowledge the outside world.”
2. Variety: “Super Bowl Halftime Review: Lady Gaga Takes Safe Route With Hits & Spectacle”
Variety TV critic Sonia Saraiya slammed Gaga for “steadfastly avoiding making a statement” during her “competent but disconnected performance.”
While praising Gaga’s set as “appropriately breathtaking,” Saraiya says the show “was overall a little weak, it still felt like a missed opportunity” to “voice the widely held frustration with the Trump administration in some form or another.”
“Born This Way,” Gaga’s anthem for gay rights, has aged poorly — the song rhymes “chola descent” with “you’re orient,” which is both ethnically and grammatically offensive, and includes the adjective “transgendered.” But even a problematic love letter to queer acceptance would have been worthwhile, at a Super Bowl Vice President Mike Pence was attending… if it had been the showstopping final number.
3. The Washington Post: “Lady Gaga calls herself a rebel, but at the Super Bowl she played it safe”
WaPo pop music critic Chris Richards railed against Gaga for not “speaking out” and being too “restrained” during her Super Bowl LI halftime show.
“She played it totally safe,” Richards wrote of Gaga. “But for an artist who continues to sell herself as an instigator, Gaga seemed content being a mere entertainer on Sunday night, putting in plenty of effort without taking any significant risks. Like any Gaga concert, her halftime show cultivated a mood of bewildered wowee-zowee that aimed to impress more than surprise.”
Gaga proclaimed to be “I am a rebel… I always want to be challenging the status quo,” during a cameo in a Tiffany & Co. Super Bowl ad. “It felt like a lie,” Richards wrote.
“With a forceful elegance, Beyoncé had set a precedent for what could be done on this stage — musically and politically. By comparison, Gaga whiffed,” Richards wrote, praising last year’s anti-American Super Bowl halftime show by the “Lemonade” singer.
4. Billboard: “Lady Gaga Is a Legacy Artist Now, But What a Legacy: Super Bowl 2017 Halftime Show Analysis”
Billboard contributor Andrew Unterberger laments “if there was a disappointment to be had with Gaga’s performance, it wasn’t with the show or the song selection … but with the fact that she didn’t attempt anything particularly outrageous.”
Unterberber says it “doesn’t count” that Gaga sang “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land.” Those weren’t the stuff of his kind of a “legitimate political statement.”
Gaga’s performance for Unterberger ultimately “fell an absolutely unforgettable moment short,” and “its general spirit was sadly missing; one such gonzo moment would’ve gone a long way toward reminding people why the art was just as important to Mother Monster’s early formula as the pop.”
5. The Huffington Post: “Lady Gaga Gave A Subtle Nod To The LGBTQ Community During Her Super Bowl Performance”
In an article predicated on the notion that middle, football-loving America is full of people who hate gays, HuffPo senior entertainment editor Stephanie Marcus struggles to find the anti-Trump messaging in Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl show.
“It wasn’t super political, but it was something,” Marcus writes.
“In the end, Gaga didn’t actually make any blatant political statement (aside from her opening number), but she did perform “Born This Way,” which celebrates individuality and takes a specifically pro-LGBTQ stance with the lyrics, “No matter gay, straight, or bi / Lesbian, transgendered life / I’m on the right track baby / I was born to survive,” Marcus explains.