"O Rest in the Lord" - Felix Mendelssohn
Drama king with a gun and a laptop

Madonna on the Half-time*

Immaculate CollectionWe often spend Super Bowl Sunday out hiking because the woods are so peaceful and deserted.  This year, we spent it at my mother's house having a wonderful time celebrating older son's birthday.  I totally forgot that the Super Bowl was going on.

However, when people started debating Madonna's performance in long conversations yesterday on Facebook, I knew I had to go check it out.

I've been a longtime Madonna fan and also a longtime not Madonna fan.  I enjoy her catchy pop tunes, and we have her Immaculate Collection CD.  However, as a performer, she seems very cold, even in her sexy performances, so I'm never really drawn into them.  I wasn't predisposed to either like or dislike her Super Bowl performance.

After reading all the comments yesterday, I went to look up the YouTube video today. 

Verdict:  It was a very enjoyable spectacle.  She had a good selection of songs,** good guest artists, fantastic dancers, and she still holds the stage as commandingly as ever.  As usual, I found her very distancing, but she's performing in front of millions of people, in person and offline, so I certainly wouldn't expect her to be more personal!

Really, the first time I got emotionally connected to the performance was when the LMFAO*** guys appeared.  I've found their videos very funny and over the top (possible future Friday Fun Songs) so I giggled when they came on. Okay, and when the gospel choir started singing, I got chills up and down my spine because I love gospel singers - so, for me, it was a better Madonna performance than usual.  She really seemed to be enjoying herself singing Like a Prayer - more than in the rest of the performance.

Responses to specific criticisms I've read:

  • She's too old to keep doing this.  I actually watched the video with this in mind.  She's three years older than I am, and I certainly wouldn't do that kind of a show (of course, I wouldn't have in my 20's either).  If you didn't know she was 53, and you just watched her performance, how old would you say she is?  You can use this photo for reference.   Was she too saggy?  Certainly didn't show in that outfit - and it would have.  Her face doesn't show many lines.  The only criticism that makes any sense is that her dancing isn't as sharp as it used to be.  Her dancing isn't the main point of the spectacle, though, so that's not so important.  There were plenty of good dancers in the spectacle. Which leads to...
  • She couldn't do everything the younger dancers could.  No, she can't.  That's why they're there, and they were wonderful.  They can't be Madonna either, which is why they aren't headlining a Super Bowl performance. 
  • She lip synced.  So does everyone in the Macy's Day parade.  Maybe Sir Paul McCartney didn't lip synch his Super Bowl performance, but did he do cartwheels (assisted or not?).  Madonna's act is not one designed around singing, it's designed around motion and spectacle.  As fit as she is, very few singers can move that much and sing their best at the same time. 
  • [By the way, spectacle and distancing don't have to be mutually exclusive.  Bette Midler can put on quite the spectacle, but she still seems personal.]
  • She should have ended with a dance floor classic for an upbeat finale rather than Like a Prayer.  I As much as I enjoyed that section, I thought it was surprising to finish with that.  The more I watch it, though, the more that turns out to be my favorite part. 
  • Predictable, boring and narcissistic.  Predictable?  You expected the Roman theme?  Boring.  No, there was too much going on.  Narcissistic?  She's a pop star.  Isn't narcissism part of the job description?
  • She was wobbly in the four inch heels.  She had a hamstring injury from a recent rehearsal.  Short of redoing the choreography and costume in the last few days before the Super Bowl, they just had to deal with it. 
  • I don't want to see someone my mother's age flashing their panties!  Sigh.  I didn't notice the panty flash until the third time I watched it.  I guess I was too busy watching other things.  People disapproved of Madonna's conical bras and sexuality in the 80's.  They disapproved of her book, Sex, in the 90's.  Why would she stop being controversial now?  She paved the way, pop music-wise, for the display of sexuality from current singers.  When Lady Gaga flashes her panties in a performance in 2039, it will be because Madonna did it first. 

[More, possibly, tomorrow]

*  Title is a play on Madonna-on-the-half-shell, a kind of yard ornament.

** Though I wish her current single didn't have the cheerleader part.  It's a good song otherwise. 

***  Which I prefer to think of as "Lilies may flower all over" Original story for the name here - it comes from a grandmother. :)

Comments

Moominpapa

And I thought your title was a play on another Divine Miss M on a shell - but I guess she actually arrived inside a WHOLE shell...

Emily

I love Madonna, and I loved the halftime. I think you're right on with your analysis and response to criticism. Overall I think people were pleasantly surprised with the performance, and I think she used the field better than any halftime in recent memory (Vogue comes to mind).

If I can do half the things Madonna did when I'm 53, I might just throw my own superbowl party!

M Light

Moominpapa: She could have put on quite a half time show, too!

Emily: Thank you!

Being able to do what she does deserves a party. :)

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