We didn't know what we were in for when Lady Gaga took the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Some critics thought she'd use the opportunity to get political. She assured us that she wouldn't. Others thought that Gaga, she of meat dresses, alter ego Jo Calderone, and arrival via egg would be too out-there for such a mainstream event. Gaga proved us wrong. She literally blew the roof off of NRG Stadium for a spectacular performance that highlighted not only some of her most popular songs, but some of the most powerful, too. Gaga didn't open her performance with one of her own songs. Instead, she sang "This Land Is Your Land." You may know it as a folk song, but it was originally written as a song of protest. Gaga's addition of the song was a quiet, powerful way to open the show. The song's original version included a verse that goes, "There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. / The sign was painted, said 'Private Property.' / But on the backside, it didn't say nothing. / This land was made for you and me." Wall? You don't say. After that, the show got started with "Poker Face," which addresses Gaga's bisexuality. During a 2014 interview, she said, "You know his song is actually about when I was making love to this guy that I was dating a long time ago. I was thinking about chicks every time we had sex." While some might see it as a dancehall anthem, Gaga drew on her own experiences for a powerful song that just happens to get bodies on the dance floor.
She continued with "Born This Way," one of the most clear-cut LGBTQ anthems in her repertoire. When the song was released, she told Harper's Bazaar, "What means something to me is my music. I don't want to make money; I want to make a difference." Many LGBTQ fans have adopted the track as a personal mantra and it's title alone is a clear testament to Gaga's devotion to her fans, no matter how they identify. She drove that point home with her backup dancers, which were a mix of sizes and colors — as they all danced in sync to the track, it was clear that Gaga's message of inclusivity and acceptance was being projected in full force. "Telephone" was next. And while there was no Bey cameo — we know everyone's hopes were high when the opening strains of this one came on — the song touches on the idea that the elite holds some ill will for the general population. We can't say we completely agree with that one, but it did add another mega hit to Gaga's performance tonight. With such a clear message of optimism and acceptance, Gaga's performance didn't need to be an outright protest. She let her songs do the talking.