HOUSTON • In the lead-up to Super Bowl 51 tomorrow, politics has permeated the National Football League's shield to an unusual degree, with players, owners and even the league's commissioner being asked about United States President Donald Trump and his recent policy decisions.
But in a news conference, Lady Gaga, one of the most outspoken pop stars and a vocal critic of the President, remained coy when asked if her performance would include any strong political statements.
"The only statements I'll be making during the halftime show are the ones I've been consistently making throughout my career," she said. "I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality, and that the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness. My performance will uphold those philosophies."
While she did not divulge any details about what songs she would perform, what outfits she would wear, or if the bee emoji that she recently posted in a comment on Instagram was an indication that Beyonce would be involved in her performance, she did say that she felt the halftime show was less given to her than it was to her legions of fans that represent the margins of society.
"That kid that couldn't get a seat at the cool kids' table, and that kid that was kicked out of the house because his mum and dad didn't accept him for who he was?" Gaga said. "That kid is going to have the stage for 13 minutes. And I'm excited to give it to them."
She said the goal of the performance, which will include a tribute to her career that includes her friend and frequent collaborator Tony Bennett, is to have a unifying message, but she understands that it is a hard goal to achieve. "I don't know if I will succeed in unifying America," she said. "You'll have to ask America when it's over."
Gaga, 30, has often seemed to seek out controversy, including stunts such as wearing a dress made out of meat to the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010. She has embraced her role as an outcast of sorts by labelling herself as Mother Monster and her fans as Little Monsters. But after criticising Mr Trump before the election, she has remained mostly quiet about him on social media since.
On Twitter, she has shown support for the Women's March on Washington and various other causes, but has not posted about the President directly since Nov 13.
Considering her politically active nature and her vocal support of Mrs Hillary Clinton, her selection to perform at the halftime show was a somewhat atypical choice for the controversy-averse NFL. Shortly after her selection, Entertainment Tonight, citing unnamed sources, claimed she would be prohibited from mentioning Mr Trump during the performance, but in a statement, a representative for the league called that "nonsense".
Gaga insisted there would be no repeat of Janet Jackson's 2004 wardrobe malfunction, when Jackson's top was torn away, saying everything would be "nice and tight", but said she wanted to preserve the mystery of her performance.
"There will be no meat dress there, so don't wait for that," she said. "Get excited to see something you haven't seen before."
The singer, who won rave reviews for her rendition of the US national anthem at Super Bowl 50 last year, adds her name to the list of Super Bowl halftime performers that includes some of rock music's most iconic acts - Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Prince, U2, Rolling Stones and The Who.
"As much as I always wanted to be an artist, I never really decided to be a musician until later in my life, and I think I saw the halftime show even before I made my decision to try to be a songwriter," she said. "Watching Michael Jackson do the halftime show is one of the fondest memories I have."