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Lady Gaga opened her Super Bowl performance with a protest anthem

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Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

In a Super Bowl performance that spanned her entire discography, Lady Gaga opened her act with a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” which has become a popular anthem at rallies protesting President Trump across the country. Standing atop the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Gaga started the song backed by a massive fleet of drones before leaping onto her stage. It was a stunning start to an over-the-top set that, while not overtly political, was certainly aimed at her political fans.

Tonight’s performance, which included acrobatics, pyrotechnics, and dancers, included such hits as “Poker Face,” “Telephone,” and “Bad Romance.” However, those looking for more of a politically charged show might have come away slightly disappointed. Save for “Born This Way” and the opening cover, there was no speech or visual that could quite compare to Beyoncé’s performance of “Formation” last year.

That said, the use of both “God Bless America” and Guthrie’s 1944 song can certainly be read as a subtle dig at the administration. The former was written by Jewish immigrant Irving Berlin. However, “This Land Is Your Land” was written as a critical response to Berlin’s more soaring song. It’s recognized today as a protest song, and the original lyrics’ mention of a “big wall” are absolutely pertinent today.

Gaga’s performance was meant to be inclusive and tailored in the “spirit of equality,” with the artist saying that her act would be for everyone. “This performance is for everyone,” she said at a press conference last week. “I want to, more than anything, create a moment that everyone that’s watching will never forget.”

In the end, embracing inclusivity with drones might have been enough.

Update 11am ET: A previous version of this article stated that Lady Gaga performed “Paparazzi” during her halftime performance. That was incorrect. The article has been updated.


Lady Gaga’s full halftime performance