Careening towards yet another Super Bowl weekend, we take a nostalgic stab at the Queen of Pop's performance. It marked her return to the public forum, on the world's largest stage, after a highly publicized divorce and a new album that told us some of the story!
Controversy has undoubtedly followed Madonna at every turn but when the unchallenged Queen of Pop landed the most coveted platform performing at the Super Bowl half-time show in 2012, many took pause with the juxtaposition of the unconventional pop star and the traditionally testosterone tone of the event. That didn't stop her from expressing herself and putting on one of the highest rated performances of her career. The live audience is historically the highest viewing audience of the broadcast season, 114 million people from around the world tuned in to watch Madonna vogue onto the field pulled by a fleet of muscled gladiators on a golden chariot.
Taking clear initiative to use the forum to promote her dance-infused album MDNA the expert marketer also lead the promotional drive releasing a lead single produced by Martin Solveig that specifically appealed to the crowd. "Give Me All Your Luvin'" a collaboration featuring rap acts Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. was timed to premiere ahead of its Super Bowl debut, and would be the only track from the new full-length album to be given the spotlight! With 17-minutes to get her stage on-and-off the field Madonna tore through her mini-concert and marched off in a ray of optimistic light.
The artist who has proved her relevancy with more than three decades in entertainment chose a set list that was spackled with some of her greatest hits. Madonna opened with a fiercely aggressive version of "Vogue" (perhaps her most signature song) following it up with the more pop-friendly "Music" introducing her first guest artist of the evening, the party crew LMFAO who kept step with Madonna's choreography, before the "contraptionionist" track "Give Me All Your Luvin'" was introduced; the "cheerleadery" fight song that felt appropriately produced to pander to the arena audience.
Though she took a couple of stumbles, the then 53 year-old Madonna did an expert job of keeping the pace of the non-stop acrobats needed to maintain such a critical audience, and set the tone for her fans who took the appearance as an indicator of what many could expect from her anticipated next world sojourn. Madonna titillated with what many saw as a preview of some of the expected antics that would be incorporated into the MDNA World Tour which had already been suggested a possibility, especially as its progenitor album project wasn't as critically well received as might have been anticipated.
Madonna has after all earned the luxury as an artist to indiscriminately create, regardless of what anyone might think about her. MDNA has the distinction of being described as her "divorce" album especially having come on the heels of the end of her marriage to Guy Ritchie. MDNA gave the artist an opportunity to set the record straight and also follow-up with an enduringly popular party track "Girl Gone Wild" that profoundly declared her exciting return to club/dance music.
There were many moments especially during the Super Bowl performance where Madonna appeared as rebellious as ever. Pushing the envelope with gender-ambigious dancers, some dressed as Roman gladiators, and her female dancers in elaborate headgear that exaggerated -- with some elegance -- the football helmets worn by the sportsmen in play, Madonna as expected did not compromise but found a balance, enough to keep the base engaged, and remain faithful to her fans.
This year Lady Gaga has been tapped to peform at the Super Bowl and other high-profile artists including Beyoncé and Katy Perry have also had their Super Bowl moments, though few can compare with the Mercurial Girl's ability to effectively strike her pose.
Take a look back at Madonna’s live performance at the Super Bowl here...
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