By now, you’ve probably seen Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show (if not, it’s above). It was pretty epic. However, many people were expecting her to be more political. And I think that she was in her own subtle yet powerful way.
I think that rhetorically, Lady Gaga’s halftime performance is interesting. A lot of people went in expecting her to be overtly political and to use her platform to address Trump’s politics and policies. However, I think that she does that here and in a way that puts the ideas of oneness, American for all, and acceptance into the minds of those watching. This is interesting because it makes me wonder how many more her subtle message connected with.
Starting with “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land,” and a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, she set up that this was a performance that was about America. Then, she moved into a line “I’m on the edge” from “Edge of Glory.” This makes me wonder if this was a move to set up her precarious position as an entertainer and the line that she’s walking here with her politics, which helps make sense of “Poker Face” coming next. As she puts on a show that people didn’t expect, she has to keep up a face that you “can’t read.”
The next song is the most overt as she sings “Born this Way.” The song proclaims:
“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say.”
And she moves into the bridge which is the most overtly political and biting of Trump’s administration (with Pence in the audience no less):
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.
This speaks to the spirit of those who are fighting the injustice that is present all around us. Fighting the bans, fighting the infringing of rights.
Her next two songs are party anthems “Telephone” and “Just Dance”, which might feel oddly placed; however, they work perfectly to amp up the crowd and subtly to pull away from the overt politicism of the last song. Yet it could also be said these songs are to remind that even in the midst of these hard times one needs to “just dance” not to be consumed as “It’ll be okay.” Moreover, with these being dance music, again, we have the spirit of LGBTQ being brought forward as dance music and congregation takes place in LGBTQ bars all over the nation.
Finally, Gaga segues into her final songs: “Million Reasons” and “Bad Romance.” Even before she begins the song, Gaga says, “How are you doing Texas? America? World? How you doing tonight? We’re here to make you feel good. You wanna feel good with us?” This statement and the first line of the song “Million Reasons” brings us back to our theme of America (and arguable the world):
You’re giving me a million reasons to let you go
You’re giving me a million reasons to quit the show
You’re givin’ me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons
Here, we are faced with the idea that even in the midst of the turmoil and the “million reasons to let. . .go” that we “just need one good one to stay” whatever that may be. As the beat picks up and we go into “Bad Romance,” we are ultimately reminded of (hopefully) the temporal nature of our current affairs as we are “caught in a bad romance” and will ultimately find ourselves out of it.
If you team this with the visual rhetoric (of which there is so much Gaga’s ultra-fashion pants suit, the diversity of the dancers moving freely around the stage, the reminiscence of the lights the crowd carries to those of protests and mourning ceremonies), I think that Lady Gaga does protest in her own way. She brings attention to certain issues and shows us the indefatigable nature of the human spirit even in the face of uncertainty. And although she yells “Super Bowl 51” at the end, she literally drops the mic before diving into the crowd.
So after seeing Jamie Lawson at the Ryman last night, I have had this song in my head. Now, I will tell you that I had heard of Lawson before hearing him last night. A friend had mentioned him, and I thought “Cool, I’ll have to check him out.” And like an asshole, I did not check him out… Fast-forward to last night, he wowed me with his performance at the Ryman, and needless to say, I had to download his album (self-titled Jamie Lawson… just in case you wanted to know because you should go download it or something).
From his performance, one song stuck in my mind: “The Only Conclusion.” Lawson told the crowd an anecdote about this song. He said that he wrote it after watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Long story short, the song is inspired by Sheldon Cooper’s analytical side when it comes to love. This song speaks to me, and I can’t really explain why. However, the line “I think I may have figured out why / Finally found the very reason / For all this confusion the only conclusion is love” really speaks to me. So enjoy the song.
The fact that Jamie Lawson seems a little nerdy and has a lot of fun with the song helps too.
My grandmother passed away recently. She was a great woman who helped raise me and my cousins when we were children, and she has continued to touch my life even after I grew up and didn’t have as much interaction with her as I did then. After a five year battle with cancer, she passed away having seen all her sisters, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. She leaves behind a legacy that will continue on for a long time to come.
When she planned her funeral, she made it very traditional. She knew exactly what she wanted and had the services carried out in the way that she saw fit. So she went out on her own terms even as she planned them. We even had a laugh at the graveside when we realized that she was late to her own funeral as she and we had said that she would be. She was buried like many people are, and now, there will be a grave that we will visit every year like we do the rest of my grandparents and relatives that have gone on.
However, I find this problematic on so many levels as this sets up a shrine that many will go to to remember her. This is the notion that always makes me a little antsy and causes me to have scruples about what I want when I ultimately go through that process that we all have to. I will tell you that I don’t want people to feel obligated to go to a place and visit me. I don’t want anything like this. I want people to remember me in the small things: a kiss we shared, a laugh, a song we sang too loudly in the car, a judgmental look, whatever it may be. I want it to creep up on them and for them to find themselves suddenly taken with it. Now, this doesn’t mean that I want people to cry (although I know that some might… I’m pretty sure that one of my sisters would if she read this right now), but if that’s the way one reacts, then, they should do it then.
But why I’m writing this now, other than trying to find some catharsis in my grandmother’s loss, is that a student video from Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz, two film students, came across my Facebook feed. It is a student directed advertisement for Johnnie Walker Whisky, but it is a beautiful thing. The sentiment is beautiful and is captured in the direction and acting within it. However, the most beautiful part might be the poem voiced-over the entire piece, a poem written by Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz and John Reilly:
“Walking the roads of our youth
through the land of our childhood, our home and our truth
Be near me, guide me
always stay beside me so i can be free, free
Lets roam this place
familiar and vast
our playground of green frames, our past
We were wanderers
never lost, always home
When every place was fenceless
and time was endless
our ways were always the same
Cool my demons and walk with me brother
until our roads lead us away from each other
and if your heart’s full of sorrow, keep walking, don’t rest
and promise me from heart to chest
to never let your memories die, never
I will always be alive and by your side,
in your mind
As I write this now, I find myself crying a little, which is big if you know me. There is just something here that touches on everything that I’m thinking and feeling right now. So I hope this doesn’t bum you out too much, but this is just lovely.
So this song has been in my head for a while now. I can’t even explain why, but it’s so damn catchy. And the idea that “this love is getting dangerous” is one that I can understand quite well. So enjoy.
While only a few songs, these are these particular ones are on repeat on a playlist right now.
“La La La”–Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith
“Hard Out Here”–Lily Allen