Madonna's Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show: How Did She Do? Take Our Poll!

After 2011’s “Black-Eyed Peas in Christmas Lights” Extravaganza, this year’s Super Bowl halftime show had nowhere to go but up. Or did it?

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!

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321 Comments
  1. S says:

    I hated that she totally lipsyned everything and I found the whole thing really cheesy but it could have been worse. I really REALLY loved the Vouge beginning tho.

  2. Bobby says:

    Can you be any more critical of someone? Holy crap on a cracker…lip syncing is hard to do, let alone dance and move all around while singing live. Cut people slack and stop all the negative comments – when warranted it’s fine, but I think this halftime show was better than many the past several years. Madonna may not be as limber as she used to be, but she still brought it and gave us 150%!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Shane says:

    Madonna was pure entertainment – exactly what a half time show should be. She rocks it better than anyone. Music, glamour and pure show biz. They don’t do it like that anymore.

  4. DV says:

    EVERYONE who left negative comment here say basicly one thing…i hate world peace! Do you really need to be writing negative comments? This show was for you to ENJOY & Madonna gave her BEST!!! Enjoy your life & live in peace!

  5. curtis day says:

    I found the halftime show to be bloated, slow, and incredibly BORING. All the teens around us were asking, “Who is that old lady with C-LO and LMFAO and Manaj?

  6. rick says:

    The show was good. I’ve seen her live many times and the shows are much better in a concert setting. Being that the show was telecast live at 8PM she toned down everything about her performance in to keep everyone happy. I remember seeing her live in concert masturbating to “like a virgin” some may think that is crude but those who went chose to go so please don’t pass judgement. Those of you who don’t care for that; you chose to not see her show and you made the right choice for yourself. I can handle a bit of scandal in my like so I went and had a great time. Anyway, those of you who say she lip synced well she did. Do you think in 10 minutes they have the time to set up a full concert setting? Her voice was not identical to the actual released album so I suspect they recoreded it recently on track and she used that as a track for this show. I just watched Janets performance from 2004 and the song sounded exactly like I was listening to the album. I like janet but I prefer some “realness” to my lipsynced performances. I didn’t hear studio quality sound on Madonna’s performance. I’m also wondering with 120 million people watching the NFL encourages pretaped vocals just to make sure there is no screw ups. That would be an embarrasment for all involved, performer, NFL and NBC. I’ve seen many live shows of Madonna and while she does lip sync during some sections she also sings live. You just can’t dance and sing for 2 hous and be coherent. Look ar Brittney Spears. She lip sincs 100 percent of her show, always has. So yes Madonna does not have a top notch voice BUT don’t forget she is the highest selling female artist of all time. She’s done that with a mediocre voice but rose to the top anyway. for that alone: RESPECT!

  7. Irishize says:

    I didn’t really care about the lipping, I just thought it was boring and contrived and a 53 yr old looks ridiculous with pompoms no matter what shape she’s in. The song sucks and the whole premise better suited to maybe Taylor Swift or some other teen to twenty something.
    And that world peace thing at the end? All I could think of was “Miss Congeniality”. Ridiculous. And didn’t really tie in to the ending song. Nothing personal to Madonna,but that was a lame show. Look back at Prince or Michael Jackson. Now those were SHOWS.

  8. Sue Bivins says:

    HORRIBLE ‘nnn

  9. debi says:

    It was totally lame. She doesn’t dance as well as she used to. The energy wasn’t there. The music was fair. I’m surprised so many ppl actually liked it. I mean it wasn’t offensive or horrible, but it was boring. Sorry- just gonna tell it like it is.

  10. Betsy says:

    It was great if you’re a 12-year-old girl who doesn’t know what lip syncing is. For grownups watching the Superbowl, it was LAME.

  11. Irishize says:

    Pretty funny, every time I click “fail” on the poll, it goes DOWN a percent instead of up, LOL so much for that.

  12. jeff says:

    The acts have a “supporting” vocal track every year, to help the performance out. Go back and watch. She was singing live, at the stadium, we just get the recorded portion pumped through the broadcast.

  13. Joan says:

    I think the show was spectacular. Madonna continues to reinvent herself. She did very well for her age and she did it with style and attitude. Kudos to Madonna and her entire crew!

  14. debi says:

    I’ll take boring any day over what you described she did at a concert. That is pathetic. Yes, I will judge it. It sounds totally pornographic, and I find that unacceptable at a live concert that most likely had teens and tweens. Thank the Lord, we haven’t gotten to the point where something like that happens at half-time show. The Janet Jackson debacle was tame compared to your eye witness account.

  15. Aileen says:

    I did not enjoy Madonna’s performance. I enjoyed LMAFO though!

  16. Brenno says:

    The performance was spectacular and the entrance left me literally agape !! C’mon who cares if it was lip sync ? Why do you insist on that aspect and don’t judge the big picture ? In 12 minutes everything could have gone wrong , and considered everything, it was more than natural that some parts would have not been live ! However, a T-O-P return for Madonna.

  17. Kenny says:

    I thought she sounded fantastic, although it sounded way too clear and not “I’m running and dancing while singing” breathy enough to be legit, so she must have lip-synced it all, which is disappointing. But good overall.

  18. Seriously says:

    Why is no one mentioning that she totally fell in the beginning onthe bleachers?!!

  19. El says:

    I thought Madonna & the dancers/performers did a great job.
    I don’t get the ‘awful’ or ‘boring’ comments. You just must be super hard to please.

  20. Don B> says:

    Madonna was a poor selection for the primary halftime entertainer, she presented way too much self promotion (no surprise) of herself, is and always was less impressive than given credit for. Previous shows had an underlying theme of merit, but not this one.

  21. matt says:

    where was the drumline from that performed?

    • Erin says:

      The drumline was made up of 100 kids from Indy area high schools. My son was one of them, so I’m probably a bit biased in thinking they were the best part!

  22. Matthew says:

    The Black Eyed Peas totally blew away Madonna by a landslide. At least they didn’t lip sync unlike the stupidity she pulled tonight.

  23. david duane elverud says:

    She had no choise but to lip sync after all she is no spring chicken and she would not have sounded good live.I did get the feeling that most of the show was madonna trying to fit in as a popular pop artist in this day and age and not pulling it off so well.

  24. Garrett says:

    Has no one realized the entire show was pre-recorded? How else could it already be in Shazam’s database?????

  25. Mountainfriend says:

    Did anyone else notice when she almost fell? I enjoy the shows, but do not make them so difficult you might fall!!

  26. Robert08101970 says:

    Well soon as heard she was gonna do vogue I knew she won’t gonna sing live. She’s never sang vogue live from blonde ambition to sticky & sweet. I think she didn’t sing live because of nerves Madonna is a very nervous singer till she igethard going but she does sing most songs live just that this was a big thing in short space of time. She still the queen

  27. divaD says:

    OMG!!! WHAT A PERFORMANCE……ANY HATERS? YOU GET YOUR 53 YEAR OLD ASSESS OR YOUR 23 OLD ASSESS OR YOUR FAT WIFES OUT THERE AND DANCE AND PERFORM LIKE THE QUEEN SUPERSTAR MADONNA IS AMAZING !!! AND ALWAYS WILL BE EVEN AFTER ALL YOU HATERS ARE GONE….KEEP DANCING MAGE…..

  28. Dan says:

    It was a safe show. Sorry Madge I was not left in a state of euphoria!

  29. TamIWas says:

    I thought the best part of the performance was when she disappeared in a puff of liquid nitrogen as she was lowered back into her cryogenic tomb. What an exit!

  30. louis says:

    christine, you have no idea. after janet, they have to have a delay, meaning it is not exactly live, 7 seconds behind. zz top, prince and even the black eyed peas did it live. so did springsteen and mccartney and the stones and tom petty. madonna is actually one of the few that didn’t sing a single note live. don’t spread such ridiculous misinformation. are you just making it up as you go?

  31. louis says:

    you are wrong. she mimed the whole thing. and really badly at that. forgot to bring the mic to her mouth on a close up. to make lip syncing believable, the singer still has to sing for real, even if the mic is off. she just mimed/mouthed along, that is why it looked so horrible. can not match the timing miming. cee-lo did that right, that is why you think some of it was live. nope.

  32. louis says:

    you can cut the ignorance with a knife here. that is complete bull.

  33. cj says:

    i took a power nap during half time. it was good dozing music?

  34. klm says:

    This halftime show reminded me of a bit called “The White Virgin of the Nile” from the Jerry Lewis movie, “Rock-A-Bye Baby”. See it on Youtube. It’s a lot more fun to watch–and they know they’re being silly.

  35. Renee says:

    No. It’s just wrong to be in your 50’s trying to be 16 again. Pom poms?

  36. Dantheman says:

    Madonna is an amazing performer!! She owned that stage tonight. There are MANY performers that wish they had the style that she has!!!! And let’s talk about that body…..

  37. Sarah says:

    It wasn’t that bad until some nobody singer decided to flip the world off.

  38. Brigette says:

    The whole thing just made me realize how good her old songs were and how bad her new song is. But I mean, I was entertained, I guess.

  39. NoChance says:

    The production number was lousy – totally distracted by the smoke and mirrors – but I really liked the ‘Like A Prayer’ part since it showcased her voice.
    Overall grade = C

  40. larryc says:

    Sucked really bad…but so do most SB halftime shows.

  41. Freyja says:

    Everyone cracks down on her for lip syncing but sticks up for when Britney and Lady Gaga does it talk about hypocritical.
    I enjoyed the half time show, and I like Madonna cause she is and always have been talented, besides she is 50+ I like to see you all at 50 do that ;p

  42. D Man says:

    For those who want to criticize about Madonna tonight, GET OVER IT! Being that she is in her 50’s, performing in those heals and still looking amazing I give her kudos… I am not a big fan of hers but she did an amazing job tonight and entertained us…. Lip sync or not, she entertained and that’s what it’s all about. So don’t criticize unless YOU can do better… Just saying.

  43. ameya says:

    garbage. she cannot sing. lol. and dance no dance. it was like a monkey gone wild. how can she even compare herself with j’s legendary SB performance.

    • tarc says:

      Pretty easily – that’s why she has the largest grossing concert tours year after year. One hundred people at the party I was at thought that she was awesome…

  44. Kristen says:

    Let’s think what could you do in twelve minutes? Could you inspire rap artists to sing your songs and follow you around with flawless choreography, but more importantly dignity?
    Madonna deserves respect. She’s an amazing performer who knows how to use multi media better then ANY performer out there! Look at the time frame she pulled this off in…
    The transitions between her pieces were effortless and actually elevated the crowd. Complain all you want…
    It probably takes you twelve minutes to get dressed in the morning!
    This woman is an icon, a legacy!
    If you knew anything about performing, directing and producing, you would be able to make an educated comment.
    This was live, not an i-pod download…This performance will be remembered for her ability, not inability to perform successfully in TWELVE minutes.
    I just have one question: If I gave you 12 minutes could you do better?
    Yeah, that’s what I thought!

    • Dissapointed says:

      Lip Syncing is lip syncing…end of story. The acoustics are not to blame because anybody who does large venue & stadium shows knows that all the performers use “in-ear” monitors that give them perfect sound directly into their ears. The broadcast sound id also taken directly from the recording console & fed straight out to air…no acoustic issues.
      Performers lip sync when they are worried that their performance or parts of their performance will not be good enough. She should have performed live…this will not help her.

      • tarc says:

        Uh, no. It doesn’t work that way with that level of background noise.

        • scomata says:

          Total BS Tark, heavy hetal, country, and even some pop concerts at stadiums deal with this level of noise every day, and it is common thing for the pros to pull off live stadium concerts sounding great.

  45. Steven says:

    The halftime show was better than I expected, but I’m waiting for the fallout from M.I.A. flipping off the viewing audience while simultaneously saying “I don’t give a sh!t”.

  46. Marianne says:

    Really, Madonna? No, REALLY?? Very disappointed. Go back a few years to Paul McCartney—no lip syncing…he’s nearly 70 and has never EVER lip synced even in large stadiums. Get a clue, Madonna.

  47. jen says:

    this is a 1/2 time show not a concert so I don’t care if she lipped. people watch for football and come to the game if u watch just to see a
    concert then go to concert or u tube one! other then the fact she lipped I thought it was visually amazing much better then having stupid non fans in the front pretending to like the artist. Madonna puts on shows that’s what she does she isn’t there for us to hear her amazing vocal abilities lol duh!!

  48. Renee says:

    The drumlines were Avon, Center Grove, Franklin Central, and Fishers, if I remember correctly. They are from local high schools and some of the most talented kids in the country(especially Avon).

  49. BC says:

    Hated the halftime. It would have been better spent taking a trip to the bathroom and grabbing another beer.
    In short, it was a waste of time.

  50. Ted says:

    Whoa whoa whoa, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert ALL sang live IN THE MIDDLE OF A STADIUM and they were great! Maybe it’s because they can actually sing… The fact is it’s unacceptable to lip sync if you’re as big of a bitch as Madonna.

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