Taylor Swift and the Super Bowl were flying in the same air space on Saturday night in Houston. At this point, it feels like a dance of seduction on both sides.
Swift, arguably the country's biggest pop star, played in front of a packed house as the headliner of DirecTV's annual Super Saturday Night Party. All the female contemporaries you'd consider in her orbit -- an exclusive group populated by the likes of Katy Perry, Beyonce and Lady Gaga -- have booked the Super Bowl halftime show. It feels like a mortal lock that Swift will eventually play The Big Game herself.
In fact, we'll go ahead and make Swift our prohibitive favorite to headline Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis (or whichever NFL title game syncs up best with the promotion cycle of her next album). But that's a conversation for another time. On Saturday, Swift ruled the biggest party of Super Bowl weekend at Club Nomadic, a sprawling facility literally built and customized for her Super Bowl Eve performance.
The 90-minute, 16-song set was great entertainment, and got a jolt by the large contingent of "Swifties" -- research tells me this is the name of Swift's mega-fanbase -- who dotted the floor and whose screams offered flashbacks to The Beatles concert of a Ron Howard documentary.
"I have to be really honest with you about something: As far as I know, I'm doing one show in 2017. And as far as I know, this is that one show," Swift said to a hugely enthusiastic response. "So what I'm trying to tell you is, by coming here tonight, you're essentially attending 100 percent of my tour dates for the year, so thank you!"
Work that crowd! Having never seen Swift perform in a live setting, I was seriously impressed by the whole production -- her look, voice, charisma, command of the stage, and, yes, a deepening catalogue of hit songs that makes the 27-year-old the total package as a pop star. The two young Swifties in front of me were swooning for their hero and it made me think how eternally confident Swift's fans must be when any sub-reddit battles break out about which pop star rules them all.
I say that because it feels like Swift's fans are on the right side of history. She'll make for a fine halftime headliner if that opportunity comes. OK, when that opportunity comes.
A few more takeaways:
» I kid you not. They built an entire venue -- one capable of hosting nearly 10,000 humans -- specifically for Swift's performance on Saturday. "Literally, this was a parking lot in October," Roger Hyde, DIRECTV/AT&T Entertainment Group SVP of creative services, told Billboard. "It literally was nothing."
» I am not Taylor Swift's target demo, but her music infiltrated my life long before Saturday's concert. My 2-year-old son Jack is a huge fan of Swift's videos: I'd guess roughly one third of the 1.9 billion YouTube views for Swift's 2015 mega-hit "Shake It Off" came from our family iPad. I was familiar with nearly every song in the set, so I'll thank my boy for keeping me in touch with The Music Those Crazy Kids Are Listening To.
» A photo from the event, taken by a better photographer than me and personally approved by SWIFT CORP.:
» Back to the two Swifties directly in front of me during the concert. I attended the party with my father and brother-in-law, and when Swift went into an acoustic rendition of "This Is What You Came For" -- the song she infamously co-wrote with ex Calvin Harris -- I turned to my Dad and said, "This is a cover of a big Rihanna song." This prompted the teen Swiftie to turn around and hiss, "She wrote the song." "She" meaning Taylor Swift, though I'm sure you could have guessed that.
A few minutes later, Swift performed "Better Man" -- something she'd never done live previously -- prompting the same fan to turn to her friend and loudly exclaim, "JESUS." This girl was the show within the show for me.
»My ears are ringing from all the girls screaming. They may never stop ringing. People have gone crazy from this affliction, right? Per Billboard, here's the setlist for you Swift completists out there:
OK, enough with the distractions. I gotta get ready for some football game now. To pass the time, here's Swift shaming her wildy privileged cats minutes before going on stage last night.