Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, a giant lion puppet, sentient dancing palm trees, sentient dancing chess pieces, sentient dancing sharks, and Lenny Kravitz highlighted a surreal instant-classic Super Bowl halftime show perhaps best encapsulated by the following image:
Forgot to mention: There were also sentient beach balls!
Perry, who at least at some points seemed to be singing live, began her set performing “Roar” atop a giant lion controlled by puppeteers.
“Dark Horse” involved your typical lineup of sinister, grabby silver chess-piece dancers.
People on Twitter made fun of the Lenny Kravitz cameo because he’s not cool anymore, but the addition of squealy guitar-wailing to “I Kissed a Girl” was, in this reviewer’s considered critical opinion, dope. Also, a song about partying and experimenting with lesbianism was just performed for something like a billion people.
A bopping “Teenage Dream” in front of an amazing and ridiculous acid-trip set of dancing shark-, palm tree–, and beach ball–people (pictured above) seemed like it would be the highlight of the performance.
But only until …
… Missy Elliott appeared to cold rock Glendale, Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium! News of Elliott’s involvement only broke on Friday, and her versions of “Work It,” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “Lose Control” were most excellent. Elliott’s legit club-bangers elevated the performance’s level of overall bangin’-ness and hardcore-itude to a level matched perhaps only by Prince and Beyoncé among other previous Super Bowl halftimes.
Things finished up with “Firework” and what, if intentional, was a pretty funny reference to NBC’s long-running “The More You Know” public service announcements. (NBC is broadcasting the game.)
In all, the visuals were trippy and outstanding (and executed perfectly), the musical performances were tight, and the Quaaludes that the palm trees and sharks took were highly effective. You couldn’t ask for much more out of a broadly appealing pop-music spectacle (unless you’re one of the conservative parents’ groups that’s probably going to complain about the lady-makeout song).
Your move, Taylor Swift.