he Super Bowl halftime show is arguably the most discussed 12 minutes in music television, and this year, it's Madonna who's facing the scrutiny. With the Giants and Patriots huddling in their locker rooms, the Queen of Pop presided over a captive audience of more than 100 million viewers, offering up a medley of her greatest hits and her new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin." (Watch the video below.) Things kicked off with a Roman-Egyptian-inspired rendition of "Vogue," and segued into a mash-up of her hit "Music," featuring party rockers LMFAO. Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. joined Madge for a Bring It On-tinged "Give Me All Your Luvin" cheerleading routine, with M.I.A. courting controversy for flipping the bird at cameras. The Voice judge Cee Lo Green then helped Madonna close things out, trading verses with her on drum-line-backed snippets of "Open Your Heart" and "Express Yourself" before going full gospel choir for "Like a Prayer." Last year, the Black Eyed Peas' performance was branded the "worst halftime show ever." How much better was Madonna?
She was wonderful: Madonna's performance was full of "sheer fun, dazzle, and most of all, wit," says Jim Farber at New York's Daily News. Things got off to a delightfully campy start with a Cleopatra-inspired "Vogue," and the "zest and humor" only escalated as Madonna joined in on LMFAO's trademark mock-sexy dance moves. The Queen of Pop definitely "delivered on the surprise and joy she promised."
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Perfect, even: Other than a blink-and-you-miss-it faux scandal involving M.I.A., says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly, the show was refreshingly uncontroversial, with Madonna instead opting to make headlines by offering "joyous, unironic, open-hearted" spectacle. Really, all audiences want from a halftime show is "to hear some hits well-played, with more imagination than, say, the Black Eyed Peas provided last year." Gauging by that metric, "Madonna's Super Bowl performance was a bright delight."
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C'mon. There were a few fumbles: The show started strong, says Michael Solomon at the U.K.'s Guardian. "Vogue" was a wise, recognizable opener to get the crowd excited — though it was eminently apparent that Madge was not singing live. But things quickly took a turn for the worse. The costumes and random appearance by LMFAO were utterly bizarre, while Madonna's dance moves were "surprisingly stiff." "Give Me All Your Luvin" was "eminently peppy — and forgettable." Thankfully, a rousing finale rendition of "Like a Prayer" saved the whole thing. "When the choir started belting it out and Cee Lo hit those high notes… she took me there."
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