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The Queen of Pop reclaims her thrones

Sam Stryker | Monday, February 6, 2012

Gaga, Britney and Beyoncé better watch their backs, because the Queen of Pop chose this Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show to announce she is back to reclaim her throne.

Ostensibly, the Super Bowl is all about football, but let’s be real. Sunday centered on three things: food, commercials and the halftime show. More often than not, the halftime show lands somewhere in forgettable to disaster territory, but not this year. Madonna was the perfect choice of performer, appealing to all ages since she always seems hip and relevant despite more than three decades in the business.

Madonna hit all the right notes with her performance — spectacle, choreography and a slew of fabulous supporting performance artists. Her songs made you want to get up and dance despite all that pizza and guacamole you just ate. 

The Queen of Pop entered the field as only true pop royalty could, carried by a procession of Roman soldiers. She immediately launched into “Vogue,” complete with leather-clad backup dancers and a gigantic light-up stage that mimicked the cover of a magazine, literally bringing the lyrics to life.

Her next song “Music” featured choreography that almost made you forget Madonna is 53. She is still ready to perform in front of a live audience of over 100 million Americans. Admittedly, Madonna did nearly fall during this portion of the set, but she caught herself.

Just when you thought Madonna was going to carry the half time show on her back, frat boy party staples LMFAO showed up to mix in some of their hits. They provided a boost of energy midway through the performance and their presence led to some of the more awkward choreography of the night. Madonna launched into a weird workout routine, but hey, she’s got to keep her figure somehow.

Next up for viewers was Madonna’s new single “Gimme All Your Luvin’,” off her upcoming “MDNA” album, set to be released later this year. Madonna was able to pull off a peppy cheerleader costume change thanks to the deadly duo of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A

Minaj killed it as per usual, launching into a rapid-fire rap verse that was over before you knew it. M.I.A. provided a needed test for the censors, dropping an expletive and giving the middle finger to all of America (but keeping her breasts to herself).

After kicking her two supporting acts (whose combined age is roughly the same as her own) off the stage, Madonna brought the jovial Cee Lo and an entire marching band on stage. They performed a few verses of “Express Yourself” before launching into her closing number of “Like A Prayer,” complete with a full gospel choir. At the end of the song, Madonna disappeared beneath the stage in a cloud of smoke. It was an uplifting end to a sassy, spunky and ultimately fun performance.

Madonna’s strong selection of songs from her catalog was bolstered by the visual spectacle of the show. Modern circus whizzes Cirque du Soleil were collaborators for the performance, and it clearly showed in the set design, backup dancers and choreography. In fact, the light-up stage nearly stole the show, seemingly pulling the turf off and transforming into a magazine cover and giant boom box. 

You have to give it to Madonna — even after three decades in the business, she still put on a high-energy show that obviously required a fair amount of preparation. Minaj even described rehearsals as “grueling.” Madonna clearly knew that with an upcoming album and tour, she had one shot to remind America who the Queen of Pop really is. 

Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Rihanna may have battled for the top spot of the charts the past year, but Madonna let the whole world know Sunday that 2012 is hers.

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The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.