Katy Perry’s Halftime Show Review: A Magical, Polarizing Super Bowl Acid Trip
Well, that was weird.
Also, that was just so excellent.
Continuing its trend of confusing/brilliant counter-progamming, the world's most macho and most watched sporting event once again turned its Halftime Show into a 20-minute gay man's fever dream—and Katy Perry delivered on all of her potential for out-of-her-mind silliness. Riding in on a giant mechanical cat, dressed as a cartoon flame, and at one point employing a group of background dancers dressed as sharks, Perry aggressively put on what I imagine will be the most polarizing Super Bowl Halftime Show in years.
But Katy Perry is also the reason we just watched Missy Elliott perform "Work It" during a Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2015, so as far as I am concerned Katy Perry is a National Hero. (And a fantastic entertainer, to boot.)
In recent years, the producers of the Super Bowl have seized the opportunity to court a wider audience by steering the Halftime Show away from the boring bro-iness that defined that Old White Rockers era and more towards a female-skewing spectacle, led by the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars. These programming decisions have been kind of hilarious when you think about it. I mean, Beyonce's performance climaxed with an arena of hoo-rah football fans—not to mention an entire world watching on TV—waving a hand in the air singing along to a song titled "Single Ladies." The whole thing is just so delightfully absurd.
As a live performer, Katy Perry is not even in the same league as that roster, and she may be most female-skewing choice yet. To her credit, Perry seemed to embrace both things—her more mediocre talents and her girl-power appeal—putting on the razzle dazzle and then some on Sunday night. (Seriously, there must be a global shortage of sequins after that thing.) You either, like I did, loved every batshit second of it. Or you at least enjoyed yourself laughing at how silly the whole thing was.
Beyond the distracting spectacle of it all, though, two things must be said: Katy Perry has truly never sounded better than she did in that arena, and girlfriend took this job seriously. She gave it her all and pulled out all the stops, be it with her splashy animatronic entrance, incredibly odd and somehow just perfect guest stars, or her rousing pyrotechnic finale. Folks, Katy Perry roared her goodamned heart out on Sunday night.
She started, as mentioned, with her performance of "Roar," delivered from the top of this gigantic cat. The giggling in the room over the brash bombast of it all sort of overpowered most of that opening number and much of her next one, a rendition of "Dark Horse" involving chess pieces in trippy polygon costumes and lots of whipping of her super-long pony tail.
She brought in Lenny Kravitz next, in what is either a major highlight or definitive low point of his career—the jury is still out. They were an unexpected pairing, to be sure. But they were also rather badass. I mean, Lenny Kravitz duetted with Katy Perry to "I Kissed a Girl" in the middle of a football game. What a time to be alive.
Kravitz, of course, was just a warm up the night's biggest guest star: Missy Elliott. Missy Elliott! Missy Elliott performed "Get Ur Freak On," "Work It," and "Lose Control" at the Super Bowl. It was magical. Missy looked so good. Katy was having so much fun.We were having so much. Obviously! It was Missy Elliott performing "Work It"! Are there even enough exclamation points in the world for this?!?!?!!!
Then, in the most shocking move of all, Katy Perry ended singing "Firework." With fireworks going off. I would never in a million years have guessed the very second she was announced as the Super Bowl Halftime Show performer that this was exactly how she would have ended this performance. (This was the most obvious way she could have ended this performance.)
She changed it up a little bit by slowing the beginning down, but by the time she climbed into a scary looking shooting star and flitted through the stadium belting her heart out as the sky lit up above her, you could consider us properly roused. Katy Perry did a great job! This was such a great moment in her career. Yeah, a lot of people were going to hate it. But those people were always going to hate it, which made her such an interesting and risky and smart and also stupid decision to be the Halftime Show performer.
Everything about the show was the Katy Perry I know, love, and occasionally find insufferable. There was no controversy. (The only cultural appropriation from Perry this time around was of ocean life during her "Teenage Dream"/"California Gurls" sequence.) There were no major mistakes. It was just a multi-million dollar showcase for Katy Perry to be unapologetically Katy Perry: campy and tacky and fearlessly dumb to the point of being brilliant.
As ridiculous and intentionally cheesy as it all seemed, it was so clear how serious she took this opportunity. She didn't play it safe. Hell, Katy Perry was doing some scary shit! She was riding robot jungle cats and flying around a football stadium underneath a star that was literally on fire. Katy Perry's Halftime Show was like some Mary Poppins acid trip.
And I was on my feet by the end. Hear me roar, y'all: this was some good, ridiculous entertainment.