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I know, I know. I'm late with this year's Super Bowl bet. What can I say? My ability to excoriate pop culture figures has been dulled by the ascendance of a gigantic man-baby. But enough about my home life; neither the second round of motherhood nor the president's second childhood is really the issue here. The issue is, Lady Gaga is largely immune to mockery.
Sure, there's plenty of standard cracks concerning her originality and general thirst. But you can't fault the woman's enthusiasm or endurance; she's logged respectable work in genres as varied as dance pop, jazz and alt-country. And she's done it all with a kind of aggressive vulnerability that might not be visionary but is certainly sincere. She's invested in both her music and her messaging in a way that a lot of pop stars simply aren't, and that's weirdly compelling.
Plus, she's a great showman. Consider that, the NFL's brief flirtation with Adele aside, Gaga likely punched her ticket for this gig when she belted out the Star-Spangled Banner at last year's Super Bowl and completely overshadowed Chris Martin's mewling, Bruno Mars's garbage bag suit and at least half of Beyonce's backup dancers.
Is Gaga the most relevant performer of the moment? Is she the most acclaimed? Is she even the most coherent? No, no and hell no. But dammit, it's hard to take your eyes off her when she puts her mind to putting on a show.
Besides, if you're a connoisseur of subtext you couldn't ask for a much richer half-time show. For all her faults and frivolities, Gaga has consistently positioned herself as a champion of the outsider. She established herself as an LGBTQ icon early in her career and has also been increasingly (and loudly) vocal about her own struggles with self-image, sexual violence and the soul-crushing churn of the music industry. The more she advocates for marginalized groups, the more willing she seems to be to put her money where her mouth is.
And so, we arrive at this particular moment in NFL history, when the league has been pummeled by accusations of callousness toward both its players and the women some of those players physically abuse.
If that's not enough for you, remember that Gaga was booked for this show back in September, when the organizers probably thought she'd still be riding high in her role as celebrity Hillary Clinton surrogate; hell, she performed the aforementioned national anthem decked out in full-on power pantsuit drag. Now that we're all forced to bear witness to the horrifying depths of white male mediocrity's capacity to fail up, I'm pretty sure Gaga has A Lot of Things She'd Like to Say.
So if you're into excruciating awkwardness and the prospect of truth chickens coming home to roost all over power, this may truly be your Super Bowl. Not only is there the distinct possibility of droopy-eyed ham hock Roger Goodell being forced to hand the Lombardi Trophy to the square-jawed idiot he spent last summer vilifying, there's the glorious thought of a room full of Fox executives squirming in agony with every Gaga costume change. Because she's going to go there, by gumballs, somehow, some way. I don't know where there is or how she'll reach it, but there is a there there and Gaga seems all but constitutionally required to exploit that fact.
In other details, Gaga has already announced there will be no special guests, because of course she has. And the Pepsi promo song - which in years past has never failed to make it onto a performer's playlist - is "Perfect Illusion," because ugh.
Here, then, are you official 2017 Halftime Show questions. Return to me before kickoff for a chance at glory.
1. What songs will Gaga play, and in what order?
2. How many costumes will Gaga wear?
3. Will any of these costumes contain perishable items?
4. Where is there and how will she get to it?
5. Really, no special guests? Not even Tony Bennett?
6. How many defenestrated Fox execs are we looking at here?
1. She will play:
* "Perfect Illusion"
* "Bad Romance"
* "Million Reasons"
* "Til It Happens to You"
2. Three, with at least one pantsuit.
3. No, not really, unless you count . . .
4. There is at least one unmistakable pro-woman and/or anti-Trump visual reference including Gaga's version of a pussyhat, which may require pixelization.
6. Hopefully all of them.
Previously In Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Coverage:
* The 2009 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bracket: Bruce Springsteen Edition.