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Lady Gaga’s stunning Super Bowl national anthem shines

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Lady Gaga made the first big score during Super Bowl 50 Sunday night, turning in a stunning rendition of America’s national anthem.

The superstar singer relied on her massive, classically trained voice to carry the performance, and she reminded the world yet again that before she was a pop culture spectacle and walking meme, she was a singer with a knockout voice.

Gaga, dressed in a glittery red pant suit and complementary sparkly red eye shadow, was accompanied only by a pianist on the small stage positioned on the football field. With a large American flag spread out behind her, she belted out the anthem with power and authority, hitting several glory notes along the way and stretching out the phrasing during “gallantly” and dropping down a note during “wave.”

She took her time singing, bringing in the song around the 2 minute and 22 second mark, 25 seconds longer than the average time over the last 10 anthems, according to Super Bowl oddsmakers. She beat on her chest twice and hit a final go-home note as six Navy Blue Angels flew over Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

The anthem was the latest in a string of showstopping performances by the singer. After Gaga’s underperforming 2013 album “Artpop,” she has scaled back on the outsize antics — the meat dress, the incubation egg she wore at the 2011 Grammys — that made her the world’s most talked about pop star and focused on highlighting her vocal talents.

She turned in a well-received performance at last year’s Academy Awards ceremony, paying tribute to the “Sound of Music,” and over the summer she embarked on a scaled-down tour with Tony Bennett behind their 2014 album “Cheek to Cheek.” Next week, she will honor the late David Bowie at the Grammy Awards.

Gaga could always sing her face off, but that fact began to get lost amid the distractions that became her narrative. Sunday’s Super Bowl appearance was another positive step on her path toward a comeback.