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. :)

Bette Midler: Golden Globes and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"

I'm glad Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch won the Golden Globes for Glee,*and I'm glad Colin Firth won for The King's Speech (which I hope to see soon). 

Because of her acceptance speech for her Golden Globe award in 1980 (for The Rose ), I always think of Bette Midler when the Golden Globes are mentioned. 

Here she is singing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.  There are a number of different performances on YouTube - how to choose one to post?  This one has bits of all of them (Of course, they include the mermaid one!):


*  Ann Hathaway would like to be in Glee, and she already has her character and songs picked out (article here).

Link Snack: November 26, 2010

Daughter's here; the days are full.

Here are some interesting links I've found recently:

  • Scouting New York* is one of my favorite architecture blogs.  It's written by a Film Location Scout in NYC about unique and interesting buildings.  The Abandoned Palace at 5 Beekman Street is about a beautiful building that hasn't been used since the 1940's.  It has a nine story atrium with a huge skylight, wrought iron work, towers, etc.  It's gradually being restored.  The photos are fascinating!

Partisan tensions on Capitol Hill are delaying efforts to fix an error in the federal health care law that could cost Children’s Hospital Boston and others like it millions of dollars in added drug costs...

The error was a simple and unintentional omission in the final, frenetic days of drafting the landmark legislation and reconciling House and Senate versions. Con gressional staff intended to allow children’s hospitals continued access to the portion of a federal program that offers below-market prices on 347 specific medicines for rare, life-threatening conditions. But that language was accidentally altered...


*  I've added both blogs to the blog roll.


Daughter is having fun, and getting busy, at UNC-A.  Out of around seven hundred students in the freshman class, eleven are in her freshman seminar.  Out of those eleven, one actually comes from our county, and he graduated from the high school that daughter would have gone to if she hadn't homeschooled.

Not only does he come from our area, his aunt is also one of our favorite Broadway singer/dancer/actresses - Karen Ziemba. I posted this video a few years ago, but it's so good that I'll post it again. 

Here are Karen Ziemba and Bill Irwin in Stephen Sondheim's Academy Award winning song, Sooner or Later*:

* Originally sung by Madonna in the movie, Dick Tracy

"Tightrope" - Janelle Monáe

I loved Janelle Monáe's performance on So You Think You Can Dance last week.  She's got a beautiful voice, and her dancing is wonderful too.  The SYTYCD performance is non-embeddable so click here to see it.  The dancing at 2:45 impresses me - not just because of the dance but also because she just takes a place with the dancers as one of them. 

I also enjoy the official video (although I'd prefer it if the dance weren't so broken up):

Archandroid More about Janelle Monáe:

““Musically, The ArchAndroid is an epic James Bond film in outer space,” describes Monáe, “in terms of influences it’s just all the things I love— scores for films like Goldfinger mixed with albums I adore such as Stevie’s Music of my Mind, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and jamming experimental hip hop stuff like Stankonia”...

...The album realizes the next chapter in the story of Cindi Mayweather, the heroine of Monáe’s debut album Metropolis. She has been sent to free the citizens of Metropolis from the Great Divide, a secret society using time travel to suppress freedom and love throughout the ages. “It’s said that when the ArchAndroid returns, it will mean freedom for the android community,” explains Monáe. “Cindi Mayweather realizes that she is indeed the ArchAndroid.”

If this all sounds like the plot of a great movie, the Wondaland crew views each album as the creation of an “emotion picture.” Says Monáe, “The ArchAndroid is very inspiring for me. In terms of writing the music, we wanted the story to be very compelling, but we also wanted to make sure that the journey we’re taking people on makes them feel like they’re watching one big emotion picture”...

A link post (which includes Liza Minnelli)

I thought I'd get lots of blogging done this weekend.  You see, after all the busy-ness of the last few months (good busy, but some of the busiest I've ever been, just the same), I decided to take this weekend and schedule nothing. 

Nothing at all.

I decided that, besides laundry, dishes, and the every day stuff, I'd just do whatever I felt like.  What a bizarre concept.  I was sure that I'd get lots of blogging done, but I never really felt like blogging.  What did I feel like?


TalesfromOuterSuburbia I'd start reading a book, or downloading photos, and I'd get sleepy and go take another nap.  Along with sleeping well at night, I slept two to three hours during the day.  I haven't even finished any of the books I'm reading (Small Pools, Unseen Academicals, and Tales from Outer Suburbia). 

I almost didn't write this part of the post because it seems so... shameful to get so little done over a whole weekend.  However, catching up with the last two weeks' worth of Glee put me in a good mood this evening so I decided to confess anyway. 

Here are a few interesting things I ran across the last few weeks:

...So often the beauty of compassion between partners is overlooked or forgotten, but when it exists the connection between the two can be felt by everyone in the room...
If anyone had asked you, a decade ago, to predict who would be the biggest star of 2010, you might have said Jim Carrey. Or Tom Hanks. Or Tom Cruise. They headlined the biggest movies of 2000, after all...

Friday Fun Song: "Empty Bed Blues" - Bette Midler

BrokenBlossom Daughter mentioned that I hadn't posted a Friday Fun Song in a while.  Empty Bed Blues is from my favorite Bette Midler album, Broken Blossom.  It's bawdy in a witty way.  I love the bluesy way she sings it.  

  • A 1977, live version - Bette Midler singing at the Roxy, L.A.  I'll link to this version even though I don't really like it.  The video quality is bad, and I prefer her singing in the album version - this version seems too inspired by her singing in The Rose, which she was probably making at the time.