Austin Crann, Staff Writer
I have never understood the appeal of Katy Perry. I certainly do not buy the “her music is so catchy and it sticks with you” argument — herpes is catchy too but I don’t hear anyone singing praises for that. Sure, she has a few good songs, but overall, she’s not some great pop star on par with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga or even Rihanna. But while she doesn’t have a lot of talent, she has put out a dozen or so hits since 2008, so I suppose she’s a fit for the Superbowl Halftime Show.
Katy’s had some truly heinous live performances in the past, but the Halftime Show was not one of them. She did exactly what she was supposed to do — put on an inoffensive spectacle to entertain Middle America. Her performance was certainly not on the level of the Michael Jackson, Madonna or Beyoncé shows, but without a doubt, a few notches ahead of The Black Eyed Peas.
The technical nature of the show was actually quite stunning and definitely a highlight of the performance. The opening scene of her marching in on top a massive mechanical lion while singing (“singing”) her hit song “Roar” was actually quite breathtaking. The futuristic sets, fireworks and technical wizardry were all top-notch. It may have bordered on cheesy and kitschy at many times, especially during the “Teenage Dream”/”California Gurls” segment, but that fits in perfectly with her ridiculous cartoon character image.
The theatrics are what made the show entertaining, though, not Katy. Since she lacks any great stage presence or raw talent, it was necessary for her to pull out all of the stops to fill in the void of charisma. Unlike the truly great pop stars, a show focusing on her talent as a performer would completely collapse. Take away Katy Perry from the Halftime Show, and it would still be entertaining.
Katy Perry is just not a good performer. Time and time again she has shown that she cannot sing live (laughing at people who thought she was actually singing). Her choreography is minimal at best, usually consisting of jumping or strutting. She lacks any sort of ability to entertain a crowd using her own talents. And that is why her show was not a great one.
In Halftime Shows past, previous megastars have used similar spectacle, but the attention was still always on them. The spectacle added to their hype. Michael Jackson caused two-minute hysteria with a single movement in his ground-breaking 1993 Halftime Show. Every one of his movements was designed to whip up the crowd into a frenzy. In 2012, Madonna used similar levels of technical wizardry as Katy Perry, but it all still directed attention to her and her powerhouse performance. Beyoncé did away with a lot of that the following year, focusing instead on her own extraordinary talents. Her relatively minimalist show has become one of the most lauded in Halftime history. Take away any of them from their respective shows and the shows fall apart, but it is not the same with Miss Perry.
Not only was Katy overshadowed by the spectacle, but a certain guest star she brought completely stole the show. Missy Elliot, who has not often been seen in recent years, completely drowned Katy out. The moment Missy Elliot stepped onstage, Katy looked out of her element. Missy Elliot breathed new life into the show, ripping through a quick medley of hits. She left way too soon, and we were once again subjected to mediocrity — the finale of “Firework” was numbingly predictable. If a dancing shark and a minute-long guest performance outshine your entire set, how good of an entertainer are you?
The final thing that makes a Halftime Show great is great music, and Katy Perry does not have that. She has an impressive resume of hits, but they are not good hits. “Roar” and “Firework” are no “Billie Jean,” “Like a Prayer” or “Crazy in Love.” She even inexplicably left out her biggest (and best) hit — “E.T.”
So in the end, Katy Perry put on a good show. She did not, however, prove herself to be a world-class performer. With Missy Elliot there, the show actually reconfirmed Katy’s mediocrity as a pop star. Middle America will continue to love her, however, and she will continue to put out the musical equivalent of herpes.