HOUSTON – One of the more amusing events in the lead up to the Super Bowl is the news conference with the halftime performer.
This year we got a two-fer. Country star Luke Bryan spoke first about singing the national anthem then Lady Gaga came to talk about her halftime show.
The stars stand or sit on a stool on a stage at the front of a convention type room in front of hundreds of reporters. There’s no investigative style journalism happening here so it’s amusing to hear the questions entertainment and television journalists concoct.
While performers of the past – notably Prince and Michael Jackson – haven’t been accommodating to questions, Gaga and Bryan were both warm, relaxed, engaged. Gaga even tossed a football to her family seated in the front row – something neither Bryan nor Cold Play’s Chris Martin did last year.
Both performers got questions about nerves in front of such a massive worldwide broadcast audience Sunday. Both had a similar answer that could help us mortals in our own lives: They focus on the energy of the moment.
Bryan said he will “follow my heart and the vibe of the room” in determining how he will sing. He’s aware that bets are being placed on how long he will take to sing the anthem. ”I had a buddy call me and say, ‘Are you going to go long?’ and I’m like what?” Bryan said, adding that he doesn’t know yet how he’ll sing it.
Gaga said she wants to create a memorable “moment” for those watching the game at home, and she wants to match the energy of the game. “This performance is for everyone,” she said.
One reporter asked if she had memories of halftime shows. Gaga said Michael Jackson’s show, which she saw before she knew she wanted to be a performer herself. Watching him, she said she could see he went “into the zone”
She also revealed Tony Bennett’s advice. “Tony always encourages me to just tell the story of the songs,” Gaga said.
Another reporter asked her if she’d be making a statement with her performance. Gaga said she’ll have the same message she always has: unity, equality, compassion and kindness.
From the front row came a question about high-flying tricks during the show. The questioner: Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles, who wore a skin-tight sleeveless black Nike top showcasing her extraordinarily powerful shoulders. Biles is working with Inside Edition.
Gaga declined to reveal her plans, but hinted at something spectacular. She then told Biles, “I love all the work you do with foster children. You’re an inspiration.”
Another reporter asked Gaga who is her rock at the end of the day. Gaga nodded to her lookalike mom in the front row and mentioned her family. But she also said that when she’s down and not feeling great about how things are going, she thinks about her fans: “The kid that couldn’t get a seat at the cool kids’ table. That kid who got kicked out his house because his parents couldn’t accept who he is,” she said.
Gaga said she and her dancers have worked on the 13-minute show for months – the story, the choreography, the costumes and pyrotechnics. “We put everything into this show and we did it for you.”
She will be singing and dancing the entire 13 minutes.
“What you’re watching at the halftime show, it’s not easy,” she said, then added encouragement to would-be artists who want to be where she is some day. “If you have a dream, you’ve got to wake up, eat it, breathe it, see it every day.”