Why Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Was Awesome
Katy Perry can’t dance.
I first noticed this last year, when I was invited to attend her concert in Philadelphia. Of course I said yes. I’m a fan of pop music, and though I’d never gone out of my way to listen to a Katy Perry song that did not feature Kanye West—I’ve done “E.T.” at karaoke—I figured I’d know a few songs and enjoy the spectacle even though the show was, I guess, aimed at children.
I did enjoy it. But what was weird is I literally knew every single song Perry played. I had no idea how much Perry had taken over the pop landscape. I didn’t realize her songs were that catchy. She was more of a star than I expected.
So Perry performing at the Super Bowl halftime show made sense. But, still, she can’t dance. What I noticed at the Wells Fargo Center this summer was that Perry solves this problem by involving copious amounts of props in her shows. So many props. And because she’s now been on the landscape for many years—her breakout hit, “I Kissed a Girl,” was released in 2008—she’s gotten quite good at knowing what props to use.
The Internet, mainly, was excited about the sharks. The sharks! One part of Perry’s set—where Perry did “California Gurls” (catchy, even without Snoop) and “Teenage Dream” (which is essentially a worse version of “Firework”)—was done in a beach setting complete with dancing sharks, trees, surfboards and beach balls. It was ridiculous. It was stupid. It was great. And it came after an opener where she rode on a lion, a version of “Dark Horse” sung while human chess pieces danced around her and a duet on “I Kissed a Girl” with Lenny Kravitz. (Mock the Black Eyed Peas if you’d like. But when they did the Super Bowl halftime show, they got Slash to do “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”)
Then Perry upped the ante by bringing out Missy Elliott to perform a medley of songs that made me feel old. Still, this was great for a few reasons. Though it was censored, it was nice to hear the lyric “If you got a big dick, let me search you” during the Super Bowl. And the duo did a bit of “Lose Control,” which probably means Fatman Scoop gets royalties. Perry then closed with “Firework” while riding a giant star across the Super Bowl field.
See? So much happened! And, through it all, Katy Perry basically just stood there while riding props and letting people who can dance move around her. She cannot dance, and yet she performed during the Super Bowl halftime show. That is more inspirational than any stupid tearjerker ad that aired last night.
Perry created a pop spectacle—and was one of the better Super Bowl halftime shows in recent memory as a result of it. “When the show ended, everyone’s mouths were wide open,” College GameDay senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting told the New York Times about a Perry appearance on that show. “We were all thinking, ‘Wow, now that’s a professional entertainer.’ You can’t teach that. She just has it.” She does! Last year in Philadelphia, she showed up at the Art Museum steps after a show, delighting fans.
This is what Super Bowl halftime shows should be: A bunch of catchy songs, done with ridiculous choreography and spectacle, by a professional entertainer. Perry was perfect for it; she is better as a halftime performer than the old rock acts the Super Bowl trotted out last decade. Once she has a new set of songs to run through, the Super Bowl ought to bring her back again.
Or, dogs catching frisbees. I’d totally go for a halftime show of dogs catching frisbees.