Katy Perry rocks Super Bowl XLIX

By Liam McGurl, writer

[image courtesy of People Magazine]

Katy Perry’s performance at Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday night had some viewers raving about the “shockingly good” routine while others called it “a complete nightmare.”

Personally, I found it to be exactly what I expected: a visually stunning performance.  In my opinion, Perry’s singing wasn’t extraordinary; however, the visual components of her performance guarded any opportunities for criticism.

Perry’s performance opened with a sea of people holding lanterns in the formation of the Pepsi logo to provide a captivating birds-eye image.  Beginning with the first moments of Perry’s hit song “Roar,” the lanterns turned a vibrant orange and the crowd split.  She made her entrance through the split masses of lanterns standing atop a mechanical gold lion.  I was impressed that Perry was able to maintain her vocal skills while standing almost twenty feet above the field.  Aside from her vocals, I was impressed by Perry’s willingness to push the boundaries and try something the Super Bowl had never seen before.

Taking this first segment as a theatrical performance, I found it to be nothing short of flawless.  While we can all argue over Perry’s raw vocals and whether or not her live performance matched well with the edited track, Perry kept this performance entertaining from the moment “Roar” began.  At the end of this first rendition, Perry let out a loud roar, transitioning into the second song to be performed, “Dark Horse.”

This segment opened with a team of dancers dressed as chess pieces on a huge simulated chessboard. I found the technicality of the choreography impressive and entertaining; each dancer hit their marks with total precision.  As this song came to a close, Perry worked her way towards a nearby stage and joined Lenny Kravitz for a rock-style duet of “I Kissed a Girl.”  In all honesty, after watching this version of the song, I wished it was the original track.

After a number of hair-flips, guitar riffs and fiery explosions, Perry went through a quick costume change and transition into the beach-themed performances of “Teenage Dream” and “California Gurls”  featuring dancers dressed as cartoon beach balls, palm trees and sharks. These routines were not as exciting or dramatic as “Roar” or “Dark Horse” as this performance seemed to appeal to younger viewers.

While the performance seemed to be taking a more innocent route, I was shocked to see an abrupt ending to “California Gurls” to welcome early 2000s rapper Missy Elliot onto the stage.  After almost a decade’s hiatus, everyone was in disbelief seeing this rap legend make her way onto the stage.  Dressed in all black, Elliot showed that her dance moves are as sharp as ever, and she’s still a major force in the industry.  Performing some of her most popular hits, “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It” and “Lose Control,” Elliot surprised and satisfied fans tuning in.

Perry closed out the show with her smash hit “Firework.”  Flying above the stadium on a constructed shooting star, she was surrounded by fireworks, lanterns and sparks, Perry belted out this emotional tune.

Perry’s halftime show kept my attention from the beginning of “Roar” to the conclusion of “Firework.”  Unlike many modern live performances, I was not attracted to this production because of controversy.  Instead, I enjoyed the creativity put into the dancing, costuming and special effects.  Further, I found Perry’s vocal talent to exceed the expectations I had for her.  Overall, I found Perry’s performance to be anything but boring, — just as a halftime show should be.