For Super Bowl XLVI, pop music’s longest-reigning provocateur, Madonna, took over as master of ceremonies, and if I’m being honest, the results were electrifying. I’m not sure how much of the singing was live, but the choreography and spectacle of it all were stellar, and yoga’s never had a better champion.
Her Madgesty entered via gladiator-drawn chariot to the opening snaps of “Vogue,” wearing a gold sequined robe that she quickly shed in favor of a black gladiatrix miniskirt, thigh-high boots, and gold headdress. (Leave it to Madonna to break the nation’s football-fueled reverie with a ditty about a style of dance popularized in gay club culture.)
After some energetic posing and a danceoff with a futuristic Cupid type, Madonna easily segued into one of her all-time greatest singles, “Music,” bouncing up and down a set of makeshift bleachers flanked by b-boys in Adidas tracksuits. There was a weird interlude where NBC’s camera crew threatened to upstage the main act by lingering on an Afro-sporting foolio doing a jig on a tightrope, but Madonna threw in a series of rapid-fire squats on a rising platform that returned the attention to where it belonged.
The next 30 seconds or so went to a collaboration (and some awkward calisthenics) with LMFAO that had too much “Party Rock,” and not enough “Sexy and I Know It,” but was nevertheless entertaining. Yet it was all more or less a bridge to the Material Girl’s saucy new single “Give Me All Your Lovin’,” complete with cheerleading costumes, pom-poms, a drumline, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., and some mesmerizing leg-ography. The message seemed to be clear: Radio needs more fiftysomething fierceness. Respeck. Booyakasha.
The set ended with the appearance of Cee Lo Green, tiny snippets of “Open Your Heart” and (swoon) “Express Yourself,” and then the sounds of a Gospel chorus leading into “Like a Prayer.” (Breathe easy, FCC hotline: No religious statues were used sacrilegiously in the making of this halftime show.) Madonna and the Voice mentor were lifted skyward on a platform as they delivered the rousing anthem while clad in black sequined choir robes, and suddenly a map of the world (or a Risk boardgame) lit up on the field below them. Madge took one last swing at the chorus — actually singing live (and well), I believe — and then was swallowed whole by Lost‘s Smoke Monster, while the phrase “World Peace” appeared on the ground of the stadium.
All in all, I’d say this is the happiest and least self-important Madonna we’ve seen in a decade or two, and while there were definitely portions of this stadium performance that were lipsycned (or aided by a backing track), I’d still say the old gal delivered the kind of spectacular spectacular that could be studied by future generations in How to Rock a Halftime Show 101. Experience, 1; youth, 0. Then again, this could just be the rantings of a guy who still owns Madonna’s self-titled debut on casette tape.
What about you? Re-watch her performance, take our poll, then hit the comments and expand on your thoughts!