Sure, Missy Elliott‘s appearance as a surprise guest during Katy Perry‘s Super Bowl halftime show was not really a “surprise” — word had leaked about the performance days before Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX spectacular at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. However, the 43-year-old rap icon was given a bigger Super Bowl platform than anyone could have expected, performing two songs alongside Perry and one song by herself while the pop star changed outfits for her finale. Pretty good for a hip-hop veteran who has not released a proper album since 2005’s The Cookbook, yet whose best-known singles were once again proven to be iconic dance tracks at the Super Bowl.
Perry and Elliott have collaborated before, on the remix to “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” that helped Perry score a record-tying fifth No. 1 single from her Teenage Dream album. Instead of combining at the Super Bowl with a previously released remix, however, Elliott and Perry played performer and hype-woman as the former bulldozed through parts of her singles “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It.” Both songs were top 10 hits on the Hot 100 chart over a decade ago; the 2002 single “Work It” hit No. 2 on the tally and stayed there for 10 weeks, years before Perry scored her first chart-topper with “I Kissed a Girl.” Yet it was Perry who graciously ceded the floor to Elliott during the performance, pumping up the crowd and egging on the dancers flanking the pair while Elliott spat her well-worn rhymes.
But Missy wasn’t done: the rapper took center stage to perform “Lose Control,” a No. 3 hit on the Hot 100 chart, as Perry disappeared to get ready for her finale. Watching the 2000’s star getting her due in 2015 on the biggest stage in the world, with (momentarily) nary a pop superstar in sight, was unexpectedly thrilling. A beloved music star who will probably never be selected to perform at the Super Bowl on her own was nevertheless given an opportunity to shine on her own merits, thanks to a very famous fan and a wealth of hits that still don’t sound dated.
Special guests are nothing new at the Super Bowl halftime show: Usher came out with the Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce reunited Destiny’s Child and Bruno Mars brought the Red Hot Chili Peppers with him last year. But three songs by a special guest? And one that, again, has not released in an album in a decade? That’s pretty much unprecedented. Get ur freak on, Misdemeanor — you were just re-introduced to the world.