Singer Lady Gaga followed in the footsteps of such singers as Idina Menzel, Renee Fleming, and Whitney Houston by performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, with Gaga taking on the job this year.
Gaga earned rave reviews for her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Lady Gaga’s national anthem performance is total perfection,” USA Today writer Patrick Ryan wrote of the song. “Gaga took her time and hit every note.”
Rolling Stone called the song “stirring… powerful.”
To Gaga fans, her vocal chops are no surprise. The Super Bowl performance follows a 2014 album ("Cheek to Cheek") of covers of jazz standards with singer Tony Bennett and having performed a musical tribute to the 1965 film “The Sound of Music” at the 2015 Oscars, a rendition for which she also earned praise for her technical skill.
Gaga got notice early on in her career for her over-the-top outfits and stage shows, but she has worked extensively on her singing, with, for example, Oscars producer Craig Zadan telling Entertainment Tonight that Gaga had studied daily with a vocal coach for six months prior to her “Music” performance.
She was accepted to the Juilliard School when she was young but instead chose to attend a different school. She also studied piano. “I was classically trained as a pianist and that innately teaches you how to write a pop song, because when you learn Bach inversions, it has the same sort of modulations between the chords,” Gaga told the Telegraph in an interview.
Performing with Bennett brought praise from some critics for her singing. “A bright, aggressive ‘La Vie en Rose,’ sung mostly in French, demonstrated her formidable vocal skills,” New York Times writer Stephen Holden wrote in a review of a concert with Gaga and Bennett last summer.
Her performance at the Oscars, a huge platform that regularly attracts more than 30 million viewers, drew even more attention. Gaga performed in a white evening gown with simple hair and makeup in contrast to her past headline-grabbing outfits, she's emerged as an artist having the vocals to take center stag.
“Eye-popping theatrics are usually par for the course when it comes to Gaga,” Billboard writer Jason Lipshutz wrote in discussing both the Oscars performance and her taking the stage at the Grammys. “But at the Grammys and Oscars, there was no blood-spurting, no male alter egos, no in-song costume changes nor giant eggs to burst out of onstage. At the Grammys and Oscars, Gaga sang decades-old classics, without dancing, or wearing an elaborate outfit. And in both instances, she absolutely dazzled.”
Meanwhile, Time writer Daniel D’Addario wrote of the Oscars that the singer “went old-school, and it worked… [she] ditched her usual elaborate theatrics for a pared-down, beautiful 50th-anniversary tribute to ‘The Sound of Music’… [she] has reinvented herself in the most surprising way of all: by leaning heavily on songcraft and artistry.”
Gaga’s performance at the Super Bowl was just the latest example of the singer getting attention for her vocal power rather than an unusual outfit or stagecraft choice.