Hey, fellow Madonna fans! (That encompasses pretty much everyone, right? Or at least it should!) I’m Sam Lansky, pop thinker, and you’re used to reading my regular column, Pop Think, where I write things that I think about pop music. Got it? Good.
But this week I’m bringing an extra-special post-Super Bowl dose of Pop Think that should probably be called Pop Feel, because rather than being kinda serious and cerebral like usual, I’m just letting myself be a total train wreck. Because, you guys, Madonna performed at the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show. And it made me feel a lot of feelings. So here I am, sharing them with y’all. Really, I’m just a boy standing in front of the internet, asking it to be OK with how he feels about Madonna.
You ready? L-U-V, let’s go!
Madonna climbs atop LMFAO’s Redfoo at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Madonna’s much-touted Super Bowl performance was met with a level of anticipation sort of like if bags of free money were going to be handed out on the street, or if Hilary Duff announced she was returning to music. You know, something really BIG and EXCITING. And it definitely didn’t disappoint, with Madonna giving us, if not all of her luv, at least, like, 68 percent of her available energy, which is totally fine since the other 40 percent was busy being the most important pop icon in the entire world, so I’m calling that a major W-I-N.
With that in mind, here are some thoughts and feelings that I had while watching MDNA take us to all to church, kind of:
+ There were SO MANY SPORTS!
So, I was under the impression that this was the Madonna Bowl, since what’s more Super than the Queen of Pop, right? Wrong! Apparently (bear with me), Madonna’s performance was wedged between several hours of sports. Sports! Can you believe it? (I couldn’t.) And not even a fun sport like Competitive Real Housewives-Watching or Basicball (a game I invented where you rank the chart flops of failed R&B songbirds from decades past while sitting and drinking lemonade on a baseball diamond), but football, which looks very rough and complicated. Most frustratingly, the announcers don’t seem to have a particularly nuanced awareness of how embarrassingly innuendo-laden everything they say is! Announcers: Just stop with all the “gaping holes” and “double teams.” You’re making everyone uncomfortable.
Read more of Sam Lansky’s reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime show after the jump!
After all the sports were out of the way, it was time for the Queen to take the stage. But before she did, we were treated to an incredible parade of dancers and drummers and assorted FOM (that’s Friends Of Madonna) that was so enormous and militant, it was like watching “300.” Only in this version, the cinematography was better. But I definitely got a Cleopatra/”Ben-Hur”/Trojans vibe from the whole thing, with the performance channeling an ancient era. (And no, that’s not a joke about Madonna’s age, now.) And then Madonna emerged like an Egyptian gladiatress, wearing a weird golden crown like the regal creature that she is, and she performed “Vogue” and it was totally amazing. “Don’t just stand there,” she urged us, and I stood in front of the television screaming “I WON’T! I WON’T!” at the television, ultimately paralyzed and oblivious to my own hypocrisy. The highlight was undoubtedly when she sat down on a dancer, using his back as as a bench and looking so bored I actually thought she was about to start filing her nails. Maybe it was then that she remembered that she’s a goddess among mere mortals. All hail the Queen!
+ Music made the people come together!
After she performed “Vogue,” Madonna transitioned into her hit “Music,” which was… good!?! She looked like she was genuinely enjoying herself, and there was a bouncing bro who did some gymnastics on an elastic tightrope, and there were break-dancers in white suits (according to MTV Style, they were Jeremy Scott!), and when she started gyrating on the top of an oversized boom box, I got a little breathless. It was fun!
+ And then LMFAO happened.
And it could have been a lot worse! I was afraid it was going to be a crushing bastardization of Madonna’s legacy, a desperate attempt at relevance humiliating for a pop deity of Madonna’s stature, a concession to a reign of inane, sybaritic electro-hop that holds American radio in its unrelenting death grip — but it was only sort of those things! Basically, there’s nothing wrong with Madonna enjoying a little shuffle now and then, and even if seeing her looking chummy riding Redfoo’s shoulders during a medley of “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy And I Know It” made my heart sink a little bit, victory was had by all when Madonna shoved them out of the way (literally, shoved them) to retake her rightful place in the spotlight. Actually, when I really think about it, it was kind of amazing watching Madonna not be sorry for party rocking.
+ There were collaborators! Lots and lots of collaborators!
Look, I’m not mad at Madonna sharing the stage with deserving famous friends, but could we just get a minute of the blonde bombshell unaccompanied by others? Next up was her performance for “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” which features Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., and both of them were a lot of fun! There were glittery pom-poms and cheerleaders (all of whom looked suspiciously like Nicki with stylish bobs) and a massive marching band, and it was almost like being at a football game or something! Nicki and Madonna ground up against each other for a minute, and M.I.A. gave the camera the middle finger, causing all the censors to freak out and actually scramble the video feed for a second or two, which was kind of amazing. And then we got a little snippet of “Open Your Heart” and I thought, “Oh! The big finale!” And then Cee Lo Green came out of nowhere, wearing a voluminous glittery muumuu, and started belting along to “Like a Prayer” with a big heavenly choir of a thousand hot nuns! I mean, look. I love Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Cee Lo, each in their own way, and LMFAO are a thing. But let’s give Madonna some space to shine, OK?
+ Remember what matters, you guys: world peace.
After “Like a Prayer,” Madonna disappeared into a spectacular cloud of white smoke, and then the camera panned out to show the words spelled out: “WORLD PEACE.” Which is like, great, if this was a local beauty pageant, but it’s the freaking Super Bowl. I hate to be so cynical that I’m yelling about “world peace” being an inadequate message, but really, couldn’t she have gone for something a little more specific? No? OK. World peace it is, then. (And yes, I already know I’m a horrible person.)
To make a long story short, there’s basically nothing that Madonna could do to really contaminate her legacy of flawless pop perfection, but this wasn’t my favorite showing. The choreography felt a tad sleepy, I felt like there were more guest acts than actually necessary and even though the production values were spectacular, it felt a little like a sense of listless obligation penetrated the whole show.
But you know what? None of that really matters! Because Madonna is still the best, even if it feels like she was a kind of distracted by all of those “sports.” (I feel that.) So, Viva MDNA! I’ll see you guys next weekend for Basicball.
Credit: Getty Images