|Madonna at the 2012 Super Bowl|
Madonna clearly set out with the intention of making the 2012 Super Bowl half-time show the biggest the sporting event had ever hosted, and we wouldn't expect anything less from our Madge! Wanting to impress and grab headlines in ways that did not involve the flashing of body parts, a la a certain other Diva *cough* Janet Jackson *cough*, Madonna's plan was simply to overwhelm and impress with a gigantic budget and good old nostalgia!
With an incredible stage that was rigged with moving platforms, different tiers, and hi-definition screens underfoot, the singer put on an eye popping show that thankfully only dipped in quality when it was subjecting us, albeit briefly-well in the context of the allotted time she was
An army of Roman Soldiers were first on to the green, pulling behind them their ruler, the Queen of Pop, who sat atop a golden throne. As soon as the familiar chords and the finger clicks kicked in I breathed a sigh of relief, now knowing this entire thing was not going to be based around Madonna's afore mentioned new single! It was an Egyptian theme- how long before the Illuminati theorists jump on that- that Madonna's iconic song Vogue was paired with, and comically she incorporating some Egyptian shapes into the 80's armcentric dance moves. Madonna was Voguing like it was 3150BC.
Next came her turn of the century hit, Music, where a trio of incredible dancers and then an acrobat, that had my heart in my mouth with his antics, took to the stage with her. This gave way to the appearance of rappers LMFAO, a shameless maneuver by Madonna to ingratiate herself with the younger generation who had partied so hard to their hits Party Rock Anthem and I'm sexy and I Know it the past year. There's no other reason I can see why they were included and further still allowed to use their own songs. Still, she did get into the spirit of it by "shufflin" with the pair, genuinely looked happy doing so. It helped to alleviate some of my cynicism over their inclusion. Then came the dreaded cheerleader chant of Give Me All Your Lovin , and LMFAO exited the stage to be replaced by the song's featured artists M.I.A and Nicki Minaj.
I had hoped a live rendition of the song would make me like it more, but it still sounded flat and tired, paling significantly, almost to transparent, when unkindly placed alongside Madonna's past hits. The song faded out to a marching band drum section, which was led by human bauble, Cee Lo Green. Over the drums, snippets of Open Your Heart and Express Yourself were briefly played before proceeding to the final part of the performance.
The medley ended with one of Madonna's most iconic songs, warranting a choir the size of an army to take to the gargantuan stage. Yes, it was Like A Prayer time! It seemed a weird song to close the performance with, especially considering its religious imagery and the controversy it sparked when it first came out, but it being such a well known Madonna song, as well as the change in tempo it ushered in, meant that its placement worked well. The dark staging, with the simple white lights, invoked the right atmosphere,as did Cee Lo Green dressing like a Pastor! Like most people I'm confused as to whether this was live or not, but I'm erring on the side of not because I'd read it was all going to be lip-synced before the show. Madonna ended her mammoth performance doing a reverse Michael Jackson by disappearing into the floor- instead of jumping out of it [explanation]- to the roar of the delighted crowd.
Criticisms of Madonna's Super bowl performance :
Though this was an amazing production, it should be mentioned, if viewed honestly, that Madonna herself was perhaps not the strongest link in it. Not only was she upstaged by the professional dancers that dotted the performance, but vocally her voice was put to shame by Cee Lo Green. What Madonna did excel at was showing the world that she can still bust out those yoga poses- which she seemed to do an awful lot- move better and have more energy than your average twenty year old, and is in possession of a back catalogue that most would kill for- still sounding as good now as it did when released- but it wasn't enough to make her the brightest light of the performance.It was the entire spectacle that will stay with me: the brilliant dancers, the volume of extras, the set, the guest stars and the massive scope and scale of it all, and I'm not sure that was what Madonna's intention was.
But I suppose that's Madonna's real strength, and perhaps what she is best at: envisioning and putting the productions themselves together, not to mention providing the music for them, and not necessarily being the strongest out of those assembled to enact her vision. The danger with this, as was the case with the Super Bowl performance, is that she risks being overshadowed.