by Andrew Tyrrell, Managing Editor
I remember the first time I ever heard of Lady Gaga. It was in 2008, when I was a sophomore in high school.
It was first period sometime early in the year; probably September. My U.S. history teacher kept singing this song and couldn’t remember the name of it, so he asked his students, correctly assuming that we had heard the song, too.
That song was “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga. I listened to the song later that day and I thought it was the stupidest, worst song I had ever heard in my life.
Back in high school I had a violent hatred for pop music. I thought it was trash. This is oftentimes an incorrect line of thinking when one plays an instrument; I play three, four if you want to count vocals as an instrument.
You’ll find this line of thought in many musicians. We sometimes take it as a personal insult when people fawn over the talent of pop artists.
“They’re not even that good,” you’ll hear guitarists and drummers the world over exclaim. “It’s just a bunch overly produced garbage.”
I’ve grown up since then, and I hope at least some of my fellow musicians have, too.
Or, at the very least, that they will find the same enlightenment I did as I progressed into old age.
Recently it was announced that Lady Gaga would be performing the halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl.
It may seem almost trivial to perform at a sporting event, something reserved for the unknown or washed up, but the Super Bowl is something else entirely.
The Super Bowl is the holiest day on the American calendar. And yes, I am including Independence Day.
Super Bowl Sunday is the pinnacle of Americana. We gather around a television with our friends and family, dressed in jeans and sports jerseys, where we gorge ourselves on nachos and beer, and scream until we’re red in the face about how awful the refs are and that Phil Simms and Jim Nantz need to shut their mouths.
Seriously, I hate Nantz and Simms. But that’s not the point.
It takes a lot of effort to maintain such a level of patriotism, that the average viewer of the Super Bowl has earned some sort of reprieve by halftime.
What we are offered is an easier form of entertainment. We get to watch someone play music.
And since concerts are expensive, or are completely sold out, this is an opportunity for many Americans, and now viewers in other countries, to see a fifteen-minute medley from one of the most popular artists of the day.
Fortunately for Lady Gaga, she doesn’t really have much to live up to. While I appreciate the talent of Beyonce, her halftime performance last year was okay at best.
Normally it would be a pretty poor situation to have to follow Beyonce in anything, but Gaga doesn’t really need to worry. Beyonce delivered a mediocre performance, and Katy Perry the year before was also just okay.
Now, while I’ve grown to appreciate and admire Lady Gaga’s artistry and talent, I still don’t care much for her music. But I will watch her halftime performance.
Why? Because, if you’ll remember, Lady Gaga performed the Star Spangled Banner at last year’s Super Bowl and absolutely killed it. It was a raw, emotional performance of an incredibly short song.
This time, she gets about fifteen minutes to throw together her best and/or most popular songs.
I think there’s already a pretty solid consensus that Lady Gaga will deliver an excellent performance, particularly if her performance with the national anthem is any indication.
The question, though, is will she enter the pantheon of greats?
There have been many Super Bowl halftime shows, and some of them have been truly excellent.
I’m talking about Prince’s blaring, emotional guitar solo from “Purple Rain” in the actual rain.
I’m talking about Springsteen and McCartney and U2.
I’m talking about Bruno Mars who, along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, delivered a performance that, in my mind, is rivaled only by Prince’s performance.
That’s what I’d like to see from Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl this year. I want to see if she, like Bruno Mars before her, can make me a fan of a genre, of an artist, that I once thought was beneath me.
I’d also just like to see her blow the roof off the friggin’ place.