Producers of the Super Bowl halftime show seem to have figured out a few things. For one, live music is a tough sell on television. And two, if you're going to try to deliver live music on TV, the presentation must be extravagant and the music's should be rudimentary and immediate.
Katy Perry's performance during halftime of the 49th Super Bowl on Sunday won't go down as one of the game's best, but it came off as one of its most successful: loaded with visuals, star power and the kind of big, catchy pop anthems that are made for huge stages and large audiences, including hundreds of millions of people watching on television.
She hit the stage astride an enormous animatronic lion, singing Roar," an anthem with a sports theme: "'Cause I am a champion, gonna hear me roar." From there, the stage switched into a chess board theme and Perry was dancing around with dancers dressed as chess pieces, singing "Dark Horse," another pop anthem with an uplifting theme: "I am capable of anything, of anything and everything."
Choreographed for short attention spans, she changed wardrobe for the second time, then joined Lenny Kravitz for a few bars of her first big hit, " I Kissed A Girl," embellished with a fury of flashpots. Then the stage switched to a tropical theme and Perry, dressed in beach ware, sang another jackhammer pop anthem, "Teenage Dream," dancing with sharks and beach balls. During "California Gurls," she was joined by dancers in two-piece polka-dot swim suits.
Veteran rapper/producer Missy Elliott joined her for the peak of the performance, rapping/singing a medley of her biggest hits with Perry, including "Get Yer Freak On," and "Lose Control."
Perry closed out the whirlwind 12-minute performance in her fifth costume, strapped into a platform that soared high above the crowd and a sea of glowing orbs, singing "Firework" as fireworks exploded in the sky above the stadium.
In the wake of the Janet Jackson/wardrobe malfunction performance at the 2004 Super Bowl, the NFL reined in the lineups, focusing more on veteran, classic-rock acts like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. The Who's disastrous performance at the 2010 Super Bowl, however, turned the tide.
Artists who can provide more visual presentations, like Madonna and Beyonce, were booked. Last year, Bruno Mars split the difference, focusing more on his many talents (dancing, singing, musicianship) and less on spectacle. Perry's performance was pure spectacle and flash, with plenty of pop hooks. It was custom-made for TV and for huge audience.