Madonna promised pom-poms for her Super Bowl XLVI half-time performance but she delivered a whole lot more, a high-energy spectacle packed with Roman warriors, Cirque du Soliel dancers, marching bands, cheerleaders and some very famous guests.
She made quite an entrance, that's for sure, riding onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on a throne dressed in full-on Cleopatra mode pulled by dancers dressed like Roman warriors. Decked out in a gold cape and massive headpiece with banners flying behind her, Madonna took the stage to "Vogue" as the song's title flashed among the images on the high-tech LED stage and amazing digitized field below her.
Cirque du Soliel's theatrical presentation and acrobatic dancing were apparent throughout, but never more so than during "Vogue," when the lavish staging met with tight choreography and Madonna sounding and looking great for an inspired spectacle and perhaps one of the biggest and boldest live performances of its kind ever attempted.
She displayed none of the nerves she'd uncharacteristically been copping to in the lead-up to the event, tearing through her hits with plenty of superstar swagger and hitting all her dance moves just right. She had a good reason to be nervous though: The game in Indianapolis, Indiana is expected to be the most-watched television event of the year. Last year's Super Bowl drew over 162 million viewers in the US alone.
Next up, Madonna and a team of dancers, now a bunch of Adidas-wearing b-boys, met on some light-up bleachers for an athletic take on "Music" that segued straight into a dance-heavy remixes of "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know It" featuring guest's LMFAO, proving that the 53-year-old pop legend can still keep up (and then some) on the dance floor.
The promised pom-poms Madonna surfaced when she lit into her new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin," along with a blonde Nicki Minaj and a, ahem, bird-flipping MIA. That's right, the lone bit of controversy around the often provocative Madonna's Super Bowl show will most like have to do with the Sri Lankan singer briefly flipping off the camera. The otherwise slickly produced show went off without a hitch.
The Queen of Pop gamely picked up some gold pom-poms to cheer alongside Minaj, M.I.A. and a team of cheering dancers during the track, giving off the look and feel of the recently released clip for the song. Minaj and M.I.A. both got a chance to shine too, rapping their parts on the track's breakdown.
As expected, she performed three vintage tunes ("Vogue," Music" and "Like a Prayer") and one new one, "Give Me All Your Luvin," the lead single from her forthcoming 12th studio album, MDNA. She partnered with a creative team from Cirque du Soleil, her longtime choreographer/creative director Jamie King and multimedia artists from Moment Factory, to plan the spectacular show.
For the finale, Cee Lo Green marched on stage as the drum major to a large marching band, starting briefly into small bites of "Open Your Heart" and "Express Yourself before suiting up into sparking robes for a full-voiced rendition of "Like a Prayer." Madonna and Cee-Lo were joined for a choir for the performance, which saw Madonna falling to her knees as she sang her classic track.
She then stepped to the back of stage and vanished into a cloud of smoke, disappearing beneath the stage and leaving the still-cheering stadium wanting more.