Katy Perry took the stage at Super Bowl XLIX astride a gleaming, giant chrome-dipped cyber-lion to the sound of her hit “Roar.” That’s the type of intro that’s hard to follow up, and despite throwing everything she had at her disposal–a guest appearance by Lenny Kravitz, a range of costumes designed by fashion-world troublemaker Jeremy Scott, a stage turned into a vertiginous fantasia by futuristic technology–her set was less a tour de force than a time-filler.
Perry was fine, Kravitz was fine, but the only real sparks that happened during the halftime spectacle came during a not-so-well-kept surprise showing by Missy Elliott, whose appearance mostly served to remind audiences that her hits from 10 years ago still sound bracingly futuristic even now.
It’s probably not Perry’s fault that even her biggest hits–“Roar,” “Dark Horse,” “Firework”–struggled to make themselves heard over everything going on onstage. The Super Bowl halftime is an unforgiving gig whose immense demands for perfection tend to suck the life out of performances by even the liveliest artists. Memes inspired by the show–dancers dressed like sharks, Perry climbing onto an IRL version of the “The More You Know” shooting star–swamped Twitter even while her performance was still happening, but tweets about the actual singing and dancing were a lot harder to come by.