Why Katy Perry's Halftime Show Was the Greatest Halftime Show of All Time
For a Katy Perry fan, every day Katy does something not racist is a wonderful day.
For a Katy Perry fan, every day Katy does something not racist is a wonderful day. Following any given Katy Perry performance, event, music video, the last thing you want to have to try and excuse is cultural appropriation, because it’s completely inexcusable. That’s why, as a massive KP fan, I was elated that her Super Bowl Halftime show was just about a white girl carrying on as white girls do: in tiny skirts with high ponytails and pretty average dance moves. In the middle of a sharknado. Typical.
Katy’s sense of theatrics is what made her halftime show—dare I say it—the best halftime show there ever was. Before you disagree let me ask you this: how many halftime shows have you seen that began with a woman entering the stadium on a giant mechanical tiger with glowing red eyes? Exactly. If you didn’t feel like immediately jumping from your seat and singing the “Roar” hook, you’re a husk of a human. A Super Bowl halftime show should be flashy, elaborate, and expensive. It should contain totally ridiculous props and women dressed decked out in flames. There should be a platoon of backing dancers stretching and choreographing as far as the eye can see. Refinement has no place here. Halftime shows are to concerts what the Fast & Furious franchise is to cinema, and given that when Katy emerged in all her glory she looked like the painted side of one of Dominic Toretto’s cars, it’s safe to say she delivered on the promise of high-octane spectacle.
Dressed by brash-pop's designer du jour, Jeremy Scott, Katy’s costumes stayed well within the realm of what is appropriate for a white girl and, for Katy, appropriate for family viewing. There was a lot of leg on display, for sure, but her signature cleavage was kept contained—even when dressed as two beach balls—quite the rarity for Katy. In fact, it seemed like the entire show shied away from controversy, preferring good old-fashioned pop-tastic fun, instead of nip-slips and bird-flipping. It was a refreshing change of pace. Even if you’re not on board with Katy’s performance, you can’t disagree that her PR was deliciously on point. She deftly used the stage to re-package herself as a wonderfully kitschy pop star who’s just cool enough to dance near Missy Elliott, but not so cool she can’t also dance near men in giant shark costumes doing the Macarena. (See! She is kid-friendly! Just don't read into the lyrics for "Peacock.") It was a genius way to undo, or at least distract from some of the damage she’s done over the 12 months with her Geisha costumes and cornrows.
Which brings me to Missy Elliott. In another incredible move, Missy Elliott was the star of her own little medley. Katy joined her briefly, but only to bounce around like an excitable puppy. It was a display of reverence for the cultural hierarchy: Katy knew she was lucky to have Missy on her stage, and that it absoulely wasn’t the other way around. Respect for not having Missy do the terrible “Last Friday Night” remix. And props again to the Katy marketing machine for making sure the song was entirely absent given the NFL's cultural climate is already rife with binge drinking, casual violence, and date rape. See: no controversy. Squeaky clean.
Thing is, Missy might just have stolen the show. This could just be because I was a teenager in the late 90s and Missy Elliott was EVERYTHING back then. Who knows what people born in 1995 made of her moment last night. And even if the teens of today were confused by Missy, it’s OK—that guy with the gold eye-glitter from The Hunger Games played guitar for a bit. Which for those of us who remember “American Woman” and “Fly,” was a huge “WHY?” moment, given that Lenny Kravitz has most certainly outstayed his welcome as a musician, and almost made a complete hash of “I Kissed A Girl.” Luckily Katy saved the day with some excitable ponytail whipping.
Katy’s show had it all. Something for the old (Missy, Teenage Dream-era hits, her breakthrough sorta-sapphic anthem), something for the new (“Roar,” “Dark Horse”), and “Firework”—because how could you ever conceive of a Katy Perry finale that didn't close with “Firework.” K-Pez only played number one hits. And she didn’t even play them all.
Noticeably missing was “Hot N Cold,” a track I thought would be a surefire hit with the NFL crowd, likewise missing was the militaristic, motivational “Part Of Me.” She probably could have included “This Is How We Do” and “E.T.” too, but she did well to keep it relatively streamlined, allowing for Missy’s mid-performance stage stealing.
Maybe there is room for refinement at the Super Bowl halftime show, and maybe Katy, for all her excesses, found it. Maybe it’s OK to just do a few songs well. Maybe the braggadocio of rolling out every single hit isn’t necessary. Maybe paying respect where respect is due is more important than constantly being the center of attention, even when you are the center of attention. Maybe just putting on a good show is enough, and maybe there doesn’t need to be anything more shocking happening than a giant sad-faced shark forgetting the moves to the Macarena. And maybe Katy Perry just so happened to put on the greatest halftime show yet. No maybes in my book.
Kat George is totally objective when writing about Katy Perry. She’s on Twitter.
This is not Kat George but a member of Katy's gal pal crew. Sweet shirt etc.