She Knows How to Make an Entrance

Lady Gaga's aerial descent on the NRG Stadium

Lady Gaga performs during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Lady Gaga descended into more viewer households than the game itself, spiking the FOX sport program from a 48.8 household rating to a 50.0, which seems to indicate that sponsor Pepsi Zero Sugar succeeded in whetting the thirst of curiosity seekers with its two weeks of teaser ads counting down the days, then hours, to the 13-minute, seven-song musical performance on Sunday, Feb. 5.

The Cirque du Gaga halftime show drew 117.5 million viewers, more than all but one recent halftime show — “Katy Perry’s 2015 shark-infested performance” (as New York magazine’s Vulture put it), which averaged 120.7 million broadcast viewers). However, it should be noted that Gaga 2017 has garnered 23 million views on Pepsi’s official YouTube site, which puts her far ahead in total viewership (140.4 million, compared to a Perry halftime total of nearly 123 million including the almost 2 million views on sponsor Pepsi’s YouTube archive.

That was better than the average of the Super Bowl itself, which Nielsen pegged at 111.3 million viewers on Fox, which will likely make it the most-watched program of the year, but puts it a fraction behind the 111.8 million average for CBS last year. (FOX says including an additional 1.72 million viewers on FOX Sports Go and and more than 650,000 on FOX Deportes, total viewership bumps to 113.7 million. the Gaga metric bumps to

The Gaga show was also a commercial hit for the artist. Billboard reported that subsequent to the Houston performance “sales of her discography had soared by over 1000% percent,” with”Million Reasons,” a single from her March 2016 album release Joanne, notching Gaga’s best individual song sales ever. In fact, with just one day’s sales, ‘Million Reasons’ enjoyed its best sales week to date, moving 45,000 units on the day of the Super Bowl alone (Feb. 5),” Billboard reported.

USA Today tracked Nielsen Music’s sales metrics across the board, reporting 125,000 Gaga song downloads on game day, up 960% versus the day before, 23,000 of them complete albums downloads (a 2,000% increase).

Original, including in how she borrows, Gaga here seems to channel '60s booted bombshells like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda circa <em>Barbarella</em>. (Photo: Elise Amendola)

Original, including in how she borrows, Gaga here seems to channel ’60s booted bombshells like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda circa Barbarella. (Photo: Elise Amendola)

Gaga’s dramatic opening — diving from the stadium roof on wires with Intel drones lighting up an American flag in the sky behind her — was pre-filmed and cut in, a feat of marvelous cinematography and editing ( a convenience they ascribed mainly to weather (if it rained, the roof would have to be closed), but is more rightly attributed to the Super Bowl’s aversion to halftime surprises. As a rule, the singing and instrumental performances are also pre-recorded during a rehearsal session (so as to make them unique to the Super Bowl), with portions performed “live.” As a rule, the entire backing band will be a recorded track — with maybe a hero guitar (think Pete Townsend), and portions of a vocal switched to live.

With the extensive choreography and breath-sapping athletics on the level at which Gaga was performing, that is really the only way to feasibly bring it off, and it appeared her piano rendition of “A Million Reasons” was the only song she didn’t lip sync. But that shouldn’t take away from viewer enjoyment — think of it as the mechanics of a 21st century show, where audiences don’t want to see someone simply standing at a microphone singing. The stakes are raised, and the technical aspects have evolved as part of that.

Gaga’s medley of hits opened with a “God Bless America”/”This Land Is Your Land” combo that walked the line between patriotism and respectful civil protest. Pundits were speculating beforehand as to whether she would make an overtly political statement (other than letting her music speak for her, as with “Born This Way,” a celebration of individualism and a call for tolerance, she did not).

Seguing into “Poker Face” (with hints of “Dance in the Dark,” “Just Dance,” “Love Game,” “Paparazzi” and “The Edge of Glory,”  according to the fansite SetList.fm). “Born This Way,” “Telephone” “Just Dance” “Million Reasons,” closing with her crowd-pleaser, “Bad Romance,” which ended with an epic mic-drop and another airborne feat: catching a rhinestone-encrusted football Lady G cannonballed from the stage amidst leaping flames.

All in all, we must admit, we’ve never seen anything quite like it. Gaga’s combination of arch theatricality, glamour, imagination and showmanship made her a perfect match for the Super Bowl halftime stage (all things considered, the performance that will set the standard for many years). Business Insider unpacks the staging of the opening dive (which doesn’t qualify as a spoiler, since it’s after the fact).

The Gaga halftime also fared well on social media, with 2.2 million tweets recorded at #PepsiHalftime show during the 20-minute performance, which began at about 8 p.m. EST. The number swells to 5.1 million including the 20 minutes before and 10 minutes following the show. Forbes covered  the social extensively , breaking out a celebrity tweet-storm notable in its diversity (including Joe Biden, Ellen DeGeneres, Ivanka Trump and Bruno Mars).

Bonus points to Shazam for its halftime-centric live feed tracking the music (including commercials) during the show.

But Lady Gaga gets the final word. Immediately following her stunning performance — which received overwhelmingly positive reviews — the performer announced via her twitter feed a Joanne world tour, starting Aug. 1 in Vancouver.

Click for Lady Gaga's website, including tour dates.

Click for Lady Gaga’s website, including tour dates.

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