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. Nahuel says:

    Some comments show how ignorant some people are. It’s ok if u don’t like her but an intelligent person could see the artistic fact and use some of that inside ur heads in order to avoid being so narrow minded.

  2. dustin says:

    The whole “she lipsynced because in that stadium and not hearing yourself blah blah blah” is not an excuse. singers on that level use whats known as an “in ear monitor” look it up. no excuse. i feel disrespected when someone thinks they can pass of a backing track for the real thing

    • KSM says:

      I do not understand why this makes such a difference. Can you even tell over the TV if they are singing/ And why do you care? It was an amazing performance, who cares if it was dubbed in or not? Live or not, I still found it 100% better than the last five years combined.

    • @dustin says:

      she sang live for several parts of the show. just because she had backing track for the record skipping and background choruses, doesn’t mean she never sang life or that tried to deceive you. the fact that you feel “disrespected” illustrates more about you than it does about Madonna. You need help… the world doesn’t revolve around you or your narrow-minded opinion, thank goodness.

  3. KSM says:

    F’ing AMAZEBALLS. Seriously, one of the most fun half time shows since Justin/Janet. Only thing that would have made it more fun was including Justin, but I think he might be banned forever. Granted, I am in the target audience (29, female, east coast) but I enjoyed that so so much.

  4. MissMel says:

    I guess I was watching a different show then most people because I thought she seemed incredibly stiff and didn’t execute the dance moves well at all. I have to place at least part of the blame on those ridiculous boots she had on. She looked like she was afraid to walk in them let alone dance. Not to mention her new single sounds like it should be sung by Katie Perry or Miley Cyrus but certainly not the Material Girl. It would have been a great show for an average performer but Madonna sets the bar high for herself and I don’t think she met it with this one.

    • KSM says:

      Taht is exactly waht makes Madonna so great – she changes with the times and evolves to the current style of music. Of COURSE she is going ot sing a current song – if she sang a song that sounded like it was from 1985, no one would like it, and no one would play it on the radio. Her ability to evolve and still make some of the best songs (no way Katy Perry pulls that song off as well,a nd I liek Katy Perry) just goes to show how evolutionary she is as a performer and a musician.

    • tarc says:

      reportedly, she fell and pulled a hamstring in dress.

  5. peter says:

    Lip sync stinks, I don’t care what anyone says. Using the excuse about running around is dumb. Ive seen the Stones 8 times, and Mick runs around in the first number more than Madonna would during a whole show and never did it. Anyway lip sync or not she stunk. Maybe the worst ever, and last year was pretty bad. Costumes and an extravagant stage does not make a good show.

    • tarc says:

      Well, Mick never worries about singing… since he always sounds likea dying duck. he can’t dance, either. It’s no wonder you didn;t like Madonna.

      • MG says:

        He is a hell of lot better than Madonna. Plus he actually does sing. No I dont’ like Madonna who needs backup dancers to cover her lousy songs. If she is so good…why not get up there with a band and spotlight? Because her songs cannot carry it. She has to have distraction.

  6. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Why doesn’t the government crack down on lip sync performers the way they did the MLB on performing enhancing drugs?

  7. Mikaela says:

    Madge was great it was the camera guys and the production staff that sucked ass.

  8. Freyja says:

    As I said before, shame on all you judging Madonna, but yet you praise Britney Spears, Blackeyed Peas and Lady Gaga when they Lip Synch are being Hypocritical.
    So the next time someone lip synch at the halftime show or anywhere else on TV, I want this big of a reaction. Otherwise shut up about it.

  9. Erica in Calif says:

    Lets be fair. She wasn’t the best – she wasn’t the worst. Don’t bash the lip syncing – that’s the producers setting that up for a stadium that since. Each stadium is different. She can still sing! It was a bit mild though for a halftime performance. I guess they were going for tame (and safe).

  10. Karina says:

    Never mind her “singing” – I’ve never seen such a horrible dancing in my entire life.

  11. chris says:

    In ear monitors. Ever heard of them? Stadium echo is not an issue.

  12. Tebza says:

    you guys are going on like Idols judges…!
    judge the show by sheer entertainment value (that’s the point!)
    the show was very entertaining and, on the whole, successful…
    never mind “lip synch” this, “live” that…

  13. Cherie says:

    Madonna killed it! One of the best Super Bowl half time shows in a long time. Great performance and I loved the the features of LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA and Cee Lo. Amazing!

  14. lucinda says:

    Madonna was incredible and very entertaining. For those of you who are complaining, shut up and take your meds honey!!!!!!!

  15. Roger says:

    I don’t believe she sang one live note. As for acoustics and and echoes . . Isn’t that one reason performers usually wear in the ear headphones? They get the music direct, canned or live. Takes echoes out of the equation.

  16. Jannett says:

    MadOnna did an amazing job. In my opion. She performed the best performance at the super owl to date. Madonna you Deserve to get a gold plaque. “can I perform with you?”. J

  17. eric says:

    I wish Madonna would’ve called me because I would’ve said, “Don’t start with Vogue. Sing Where’s the Party or Into the Groove.” The rest was fine.

  18. Carrie says:

    I think it was very cool to see Madonna perform. She looked very happy and excited to be up there. I think she normally acts a bit above the rest but she didn’t act like that on stage. No matter if you like her, she lip synced or what songs she sang, she has always been a huge influence in the music industry and will go down in history as an iconic musician so to see her perform without paying a fortune is pretty cool!

  19. kevin says:

    Biggest shocker during Madonna’s halftime show was MIA flipping the bird on live TV. Totally rude on her part and it really wasn’t so 2004 since that infamous wardrobe malfunction between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

  20. Engbunny says:

    I couldn’t give her an A because she lipsynced the whole show. However, compared to some recent half time shows, I think she did a great job.

  21. Julie Fedele says:

    Have to agree with those disappointed by the syncing. I am realistic and understand why it had to be done, but the result was I was completely bored with the performance, barring of course Like a Prayer, where she appeared to sing and sounded great.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Would’ve enjoyed it more with out LMAFO… of course, I’d enjoy anything in life without LMAFO.
    Keep Nikki & CeeLo, but drop MIA – she was pointless too.

  23. Sean says:

    The show was above average and one of the better ones in the last 20 years. I will point out though that the first choreographed part was a restaging/copy of Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite tour staging and choreography even down to the costumes. Of course only the rest of the world and those who saw Kylie in 2011 in the US would know this.

  24. Deb says:

    Her performance was great! Much better than BEP last year. The under “30” crowd has a lot to learn about setting up a band for a concert in a football stadium. It takes a whole day, which is why you will never get the same result from any half time show, where the staging and sound systems are wheeled into place quickly. It is a halftime show, not a singing only event. I thought the whole thing was well put together, entertaining and sung very well!

  25. Madonna B. says:

    No doubt by todays standards Madonna is talented in her own way, however I don’t care for her taste in music. She works hard in prepairing her performances….but a little…very little goes a looooooooooooong way….she’s still crude and tasteless…her jesters leaves alot to be desired…I’m still waiting for her to grow up and be the beautiful woman I know she can be.

  26. Luis says:

    Sad. My favorite parts of the show were Cee-Lo and the bouncing Afro guy.

  27. Lizzie says:

    She did really well, however, I have to admit that I experienced a full blown case of Ageism. For most of the show I thought “she’s moving slow, but she’s over 50 so she’s actually doing great!” and then with the cartwheels and the booty drop dancing I thought “Grandma’s gonna break a hip!” and then I wanted to slap myself. But still, it’s just how I felt, worried for her. Then she slayed me with the Like a Prayer. That was fantastic. And the set design was great. But sadly, I couldn’t get past how she’s older, so worked on, lip sinking and yet, I have mad respect for how hard she works to keep up. But that’s what it looked like, Madonna trying to keep up.

  28. diane says:

    was the halftime show prerecorded it looked like it to me?

  29. Lindsay says:

    I am not a Madonna fan at all, but that was a pretty amazing halftime show. Better than most and much better than expected. B+ (also, don’t really care if she lip synced. I wish some acts in the past HAD lip synced, they were so bad)

  30. Rick says:

    I thought it was great and she looked and danced fabulous.

  31. syb says:

    Like a Prayer with Cee-Lo and the choir and Madonna singing live and beautifully arguably her best song ever was excellent.
    The auto-tune, lip sync, awkwardly slowed down choreographed rest of it ranged from silly, to embarrassing, to age inappropriate, to boring to bad.

  32. Bsaksfan says:

    If Madonna lip-synched even a portion of her Super Bowl performance, shame on her. The argument, made by lip-synchers, that they can’t sing and dance at the same time, holds no water. If you choose one, it better be singing. No one ever bought a Madonna record to hear her dance.

  33. Lisa says:

    I didn’t think it even looked like a LIVE halftime show….it looked like a pre-recorded concert that you would see on HBO or something. Kind of like when on American idol they introduce a supposedly live performance then show some prerecorded crap. It was okay, but Bruce, Rolling Stones, Prince, and the ilk are/were better. Just sing for god sake, I could do without all of the spectacle.

  34. Jake says:

    Do you really think she cares what anyone thinks? She probably got a nice little bank roll for performing and now that she is out of sight probably is saying suck it!

  35. Amber says:

    I grew up in the Madonna generation of the 80s, and I thought the whole thing sucked. She looked terribly awkward and stiff, and she looked like a very old lady trying to pass herself off as being a sexy young woman and ridiculously so. And if she was gonna lip sync the whole thing, could she have at least pretended to try and look like she was really singing? She didn’t appear to put much effort into her performance.

  36. kenneth m webb says:

    I thought Madona was great ,a real pro. I remember listening to her when Like a virgin came out;cool song good times.She brings back good memories.Eli won in his brothers house ,probally for Payton.Great quarterback and brother WOW!!!

  37. Cory Myers says:

    Like it or not, Madonna’s performance was way better than The Black-Eyed Peas last year!

  38. Ryan says:

    Madonna is not relevant anymore! Let her take her walker and go retire! God, she’s as old as my mother!

  39. Andryawarhol says:

    I don’t give a biscuit if she lip synced or not the overall show was amaaaaaaaaaaazing….great theatrics

  40. Marilynn says:

    I truly found it unexciting, very slowed-down, and I could barely hear the music! Where was the pounding, thrilling music that should have brought us to our feet, cheering? Totally missing. No thrills at all music-wise…she picked the wrong songs — except for the last one. She should have let the dancers loose to really dance up a storm (without her being involved in every scene). Then, she could have picked up a mike and belted out the lyrics to Like a Prayer!
    It was just so tame, so mediocre. Let the dancers dance, the band play, and the singers sing OUT, loud and strong, for Pete’s sake.
    It was tame, Madonna. Really.

  41. Carm says:

    For her age she was fabulous! I want to look like her at 53. She was amazing.

  42. buncombe says:

    M.I.A. stole the show despite her extremely short time on stage. I think they decided to use her so everyone didn’t notice how boring the game was (Her act was even more so). Every time Madonna shows up she needs some cool acts around her…it’s like her promoters are trying to send the message “See, Madonna is hip, she plays with M.I.A. [or the Gorillaz, or lil Wayne, or Justin Timberlake, etc.]” But in reality she hasn’t had a good song since the 90s.

  43. carrie says:

    u people r delusional! She didn’t sing! If it was dancing, yes she did well but its not. She’s a joke and she puts old ladies to shame! only gay men and stupid women like her.

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