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Gaga's Surprisingly Uncontroversial Super Bowl LI Performance

Did she just jump?

At Super Bowl LI's halftime, Lady Gaga appeared to be perched on the top of NRG Stadium in Houston. High above the crowd, she belted out the notes of “God Bless America” then leapt over the edge.

In some combination of computer wizardry and stadium mechanics, we next saw her descending from strings in the middle of the stadium; like a spider, she flailed her limbs through the air—then the show began.

“Poker Face,” “Born this Way,” “Telephone,” “Just Dance,” “Million Reasons,” and “Bad Romance” were all played in quick succession. It was upbeat and captivating—the kind of performance that even a Patriots fan (down 21-3 at that point) couldn’t help but tap a foot to.

Her set featured excellently tuned vocals, creative choreography, and zero controversy. Of course, Gaga’s characteristic eccentricity engulfed the stage: sparkling outfits, alien-esque dance sequences, and even a Michael Jackson inspired crotch grab. However, there were no Janet Jackson mishaps or left shark blunders in sight.

Many predicted a different show—perhaps more controversial than what they were greeted with at the end of the second quarter. In the wake of a Trump presidency and increasingly politically vocal celebrities, a number of news organizations and fans expected that Gaga would use the big stage to make a political statement. In the days following Trump’s travel ban, many believed she was even obligated to take a stand.

Gaga's sole statement was one of unity and inclusion. At one point, she recited part of the Pledge of Allegiance. At another, she shouted out “We’re here to make you feel good!” In divided and contentious times, Gaga brought us all back a decade—back to her heyday on the radio, where today’s college students can still hear her voice on long bus rides and at middle school dances. Maybe she knew Americans didn’t need another politically charged moment; a little escapism was just what the doctor ordered.

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