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Super Bowl LI: What to Expect from Lady Gaga's Halftime Show

Is she hanging from the ceiling?

Malcolm Venable

Lady Gaga's impressive rendition of the national anthem got upstaged by Beyonce's performance at the Super Bowl last year, but this is her time to shine as she's the star of this year's halftime show. What does she have in store for her near 13 minutes to speak while she has the attention of the more than 100 million people likely to watch? Some clues are already leaking out.

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1. Some sort of activist statement
Previous reports that she was banned from saying "Donald Trump" have been called "nonsense" by the NFL, but even though she's a vocal critic of the Prez, she's unlikely to mention him by name. Doing so would mean the next-day headlines would be less focused on her and since the 30-year-old has said she's been preparing for this since she was 4, she probably wouldn't want that. But she'll be saying something: in a press conference Thursday the longtime LGBT rights advocate and anti-bullying spokesperson said, "The only statements I'll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I've been consistently making throughout my career. I believe in a passion for inclusion, the spirit of equality and the spirit of this country, one of love and compassion and kindness."

2. Crazy costumes
At least seven outfit changes are on deck, according to
SB Nation... but she has promised there will be no meat dress. Given her toned-down aesthetic as of late -- including those delightful country-rock inspired denim cutoffs she's been fond of while on her Bud Light Dive Bar tour -- you can probably assume a mix of "accessible enough not to alienate uptight people and small children" and vintage Gaga.

3. A (virtual) guest appearance, but probably not Beyoncé
It's been said from the beginning that Gaga will do the show solo but, in a press conference Thursday she played coy on who, if anyone, would join her in her show. The exception is her buddy Tony Bennett, who'll introduce her via video. As for Beyonce, despite Gaga including a bee emoji in a recent Instagram post -- which many took as a hint Queen Bey would appear -- that's probably not happening. (Gaga would neither confirm or deny that in Thursday's press conference, only suggesting people not read too much into it. Beyonce is of course from Houston, so she may have just been giving her a shout out.) Unlike last year, when Beyoncé was brought in as extra insurance people would actually watch the not-quite-as-iconic acts Coldplay and Bruno Mars, Gaga has a massive enough following and penchant for spectacle to hold her own. Adding Beyoncé would be a little awkward for both of them, and Beyoncé's unlikely to do the same gig two years in a row. (She doesn't even announce her pregnancy the same way twice.) You never know though: the ladies do have two songs together! If Gaga does include a guest, she's much more likely to prop up a lesser-known artist and/or someone unexpected. Some names floating about include Elton John, with whom she's performed before, or heck, maybe "Starstruck" partner Flo Rida?

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4. Being suspended from the ceiling
You can't do the Super Bowl today without a stunt; word is, Gaga is planning to be suspended from the ceiling -- or entering from a hole in the roof -- of Houston's NRG Stadium at the suggestion of her sister, Natalie. She wouldn't confirm or deny that, but then hey, the girl is no stranger to being suspended high in the air; she's
done it before.

5. Her songs, duh
Thanks to halftime sponsor Pepsi's behind-the-scenes teasers, we know she'll perform "Perfect Illusion," "Bad Romance" and "A-YO" from her latest album Joanne. Count on a cover, too. She's done everything from John Lennon's "Imagine" to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust"; a big, recognizable stadium anthem will seal her set. Also expect previous smash hits including "Poker Face," "Just Dance" and "Born This Way" -- which will very likely include the political statement we know is coming. And if you so much as hear the opening chords for "Telephone," her track with Beyoncé, well, distance yourself from your smartphone because social media is going to make it explode.

Super Bowl LI begins Sunday, Feb. 5 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Fox with kickoff expected at 6:30 p.m. The halftime show should begin at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET.