Katy Perry performs during the semi final show of 'The Voice Of Germany on Dec. 13, 2013 in Berlin.
Timur Emek—Getty Images
By Daniel D'Addario
January 30, 2015

On Sunday, Feb. 1, Katy Perry will perform at the halftime show of the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Perry is just the latest in a recent string of edgier and more contemporary acts (after Bruno Mars last year). For the NFL, this is a chance to draw in women and families who might otherwise not tune into what is traditionally the year’s most-watched TV broadcast; for Perry, it’s a chance to expose her music to a wider audience.

Here’s what the uninitiated need to know:

Why her?

Perry is among the most successful recording artists of her generation; her 2010 album Teenage Dream tied a record first set by Michael Jackson when its first five singles all hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Her most recent album, 2013’s Prism, generated the chart-toppers “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” She has enough recognizable music to fill out a twelve-minute set that even non-fans will recognize, and enough of a following (she’s the world’s most-followed Twitter user) to boost the show’s ratings. (Last year, the halftime show was watched by more people than the average number of viewers for the whole game.) Perry’s persona as a performer of self-esteem-boosting music, too, is a boon for a league whose athletes’ treatment of women has come under close scrutiny in the past year.

Isn’t she a little risqué, though?

Perry’s image straddles the line between provocation and family-friendliness (sometimes uneasily): She’s cutesy enough that her come-ons and outfits don’t seem unfit for a family broadcast. The NFL wants a broadcast people will be talking about, but dreads a repeat of Janet Jackson’s 2004 “wardrobe malfunction.” Perry has said her “soft-serve sexiness” aesthetic remains within the bounds of propriety.

Who are the special guests?

The “American Woman” rocker Lenny Kravitz has already been announced, and Perry has only given vague hints as to what their collaboration will look like. The Associated Press has reported that rapper Missy Elliott is to be Perry’s second guest, in keeping with Perry’s own hints that it would be a female artist from a previous generation of music. Elliott took a brief hiatus from her long hiatus to rap on the remix for Perry’s 2011 single “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” but it seems more likely that Elliott will perform something more recognizable as her own. At an NFL performance describing her second guest, Perry said: “When you hear the first ring of the chord…I think jaws will drop and faces will melt.”

What will Perry perform?

TIME’s predictions are here, and they’re all hypothetical: The roles Elliott and Kravitz will play, for instance, is an x-factor. At her NFL press conference, Perry said she will incorporate medleys into her performance in order to ensure she gets to enough of her songs to please her fans, and confirmed that “Roar” and “Firework,” her two most explicitly inspirational songs, will be part of the act.

What will the whole thing look like?

Perry has said that the football field will be overlaid with a surface that will allow for elaborate graphic elements and that she will wear multiple colorful costumes over the course of the performance, an unusual step: Both Madonna and Beyoncé, the two most recent female solo acts at the halftime show, dressed relatively simply in basic black. She has also said that lions (a subtle nod to “Roar”?) and sharks will be incorporated into the performance.

What’s next for Perry?

Perry’s promotion cycle for Prism would seem to be coming to an end after her planned European and Asian tour dates from February to May. And she’s said she is not planning to use the show as a springboard for surprise new material. One thing Perry can count on, if history is guide? A significant sales boost for her past material in the weeks after new fans discover her work.

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