Monday 6 February 2012

Review: Watch Madonna's 2012 Super Bowl Extravaganza

 madonna superbowl 2012
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 lip-syncing badly performing- to the new, terrible, single Give Me All Your Lovin. The rest of the performance consisted of vintage Madonna back catalogue goodness, which served its purpose of working the massive crowd, not to mention the reported billion plus watching all over the world, into a half time frenzy to remember!

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.

madonna superbowl music elastic

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.

madonna Mia superbowl nicki

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.


  1. I was questioning whether or not like a prayer was lip synced. Visually it appeared like she was singing (her body language was screaming struggle with poor breathing and obvious exertion of the throat). However the Audio sounded too perfect. Im not too sure if it was lipped or rather dubbed.

  2. Boo - the video has been taken down. I will try and watch it somewhere else! I did see Kelly Clarkson do the anthem though, and I thought she did a top notch job. I agree with you about the point of the Superbowl show being the spectacle of it - BEP didn't sing that well last year, but the costumes and dancers still blew me away. The Who also had incredible staging a couple of year ago.

  3. Ah, I've just watched it - luckily my OH recorded the Superbowl last night. Having the benefits of a big screen it's obvious to me that everyone is miming/lip-synching the whole way through - bit of a shame that Cee-lo and the female rappers couldn't be trusted to do their bits live! I think Gaga would have at least had a good bash at singing it live. However, I thought that the costumes were amazing, and at least she has a sense of humour - the bits with LMFAO and when Cee Lo first 'marched' out were hilarious!

  4. Sorry - by which I mean Gaga if she had done the halftime show instead of Madonna.

  5. i agree kelly clarksons version of the national anthem was really good 
    she made it her own but didnt overdo it 

  6. idk i think there were parts where it was apparent that she lipped 
    especially when she was finishing the 2nd song 
    i am kind of disappointed because for the "queen of pop" i thought lip syncing wouldnt even be an issue 
    im sorry but i feel that if an artist doesnt sing live its just unacceptable 
    i do understand though that she wanted it to be perfect but i agree with diva... 
    the production for me was the biggest thing - it was incredible- although not very original- it was spectacular 
    still the lip syncing was a deal breaker for me

  7. idk i think cee lo was the only one singing... idk for sure though 
    and yes people can say whatever they want about gaga but she wouldnt have lip synced

  8.  Janet Jackson take notes! Madonna proved last night why she is queen of the pack! If Madonna lip synced more power to her the thing last nite was putting on a show people would remember for years. Madonna did last nite what has made her supreme performed her fanny off! KUDOS!

  9. 'If Madonna lip synced more power to her....' really?! 

    Firstly, yes, she definitely did lip-synch. Secondly - in terms of being a true artist and performer, surely lip-synching means less power to her? Not more?For those who say that it is impossible to pull off so many dance moves and still sing, well I have seen Pink dangling upside-down thirty feet up, spinning on a silk rope, and still singing live and note-perfect. So it can be done, it just takes great aerobic fitness (which I'm sure Madonna must have) and a lot of nerve.I'm not knocking the 'wow' factor of Madonna's performance, the visuals were incredible...she's always been great at that. It's just a shame she chose to fake the singing part. She often sings live on tour and is pretty good.

  10. :O) Well we can agree to differ, but having watched it really closely I think Cee Lo was miming/lip-synching too. I'm sure he definitely could have pulled off a live performance, but I bet Madonna didn't want to get shown up, so vetoed it! A few live vocals slotted in might have made her 'perfect' vocals more obviously fake to the audience. I think Madonna is a bit of a control freak, but that's one of the reasons she has been so incredibly successful.

  11. Hey Karen, I totally agree with you but I believe Madonna's main goal was to create a visually fantastic show and sometimes on a large scale event like that and all the various routines and movement she was doing I believe she did not want the audience to get caught up in her attempting to sing and putting on a performance most of the young girls cannot even accomplish. Her vocals would have been flawed with performance and she wanted the audio experience to be perfect. I totally understand her decision. 

  12. Hi Salina - yeah I agree that a perfectionist like Madge probably chose it for that reason, and also because she can get away with it - it's amazing how many people can't seem to spot lip-synching! She is a great performer, I have always loved her. I guess I just want it all ;o)

  13. um for me i dont respect artists that lip sync and madonna is a constant offender 
    if you would rather put the production on the front burner and make the vocals the least important thing... then theres something wrong 
    its like britney 
    people always argue - well shes an amazing dancer and performer even though she doesn't sing live- and my answer to that is that - well then why didnt she become a dancer 

    madonna is a singer who made money off her songs and a lot of money from touring 
    i think its only fair that the vocals should some first 
    i understand that she wanted the production to be astounding - but if you are a "singer" then the least you can do is actually sing live 

  14. Most people don't consider Madonna a singer. People prefer to call her a recording artist or Performer. Now your comment towards her becoming a dancer is a bit ignorant. You see there are several types of recording artists but I like to break them down to two groups: Those that perform and those that Vocalize. I think it is unfair to expect much of any vocals from Madonna when from the beginning of her career she was spread around the world with her stage props, entertaining theatrics, and catchy dance tunes- rather than her voice. Quite a few recording artists started off as dancers ex: Jennifer Lopez. However these people don't aim to become great "singers". They aim to put on a show that will visually stimulate their audiences and get them to beg for more. This is why the vocals are not the biggest factor with them. Now there are some artists caught in the middle (Christina Aguilera, Mariah carey, and even Britney on occasion.) But for the most part these moresay "Directors" shouldn't be expected of live singing for the most part. It is incredibly difficult to be able to sustain and support a note while doing all of the yoga and dancing Madonna did.

  15. She did risk being overshadowed but I think it was necessary to pull out all the stops for a show like the Super Bowl. It was badass just the way it was.

  16. Very late to the party here but..DD, I think that was an excellent review! That is to say...I agreed with every word. Positive AND negative