Madonna: The Square Peg to the Super Bowl’s Round Hole…

Why the latest on-pitch battle between music and sports was a resounding victory for the latter…

The quasi-sporting advertising gargantua that is the Super Bowl returned to our screens last week. In preparation, the UK public became misunderstood and ill informed experts on the sport, professing a quizzical loyalty to an arbitrarily chosen team.

We pulled out the root beer and the pretzels. Hell, we may have donned a trucker hat and sleeveless denim, had the mood struck. All in preparation for a sport we know less about than gymnastics…

With it came a bells-and-whistles half-time show courtesy of Madonna. The half-time show has seemingly become a separate event to the game itself – it’s as if the two are constantly challenging one-another. Call me insatiable, but for all the performance’s sparkle, it came up a little short.

With a variety of special guests in tow, Madge’s medley poured from the stage like honey. The hives of fans inside the arena were shooting up on her musical nectar, but from the other side of a TV screen, I was underwhelmed. Perhaps it was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.

I get that Madonna is one of the all-American heroes, much like Bruce Springsteen is. But I’m not so sure that a testosterone driven, Lucozade-drenched football tie is the right place for her brand of pop. I don’t doubt her ability to delight such sizeable venues; I just think the context was a little off.

In previous years, we’ve seen The Who and Springsteen belt out their anthems to Super Bowl crowds. They’ve been rapturous celebrations of the American way (or, in the case of The Who, a celebration of the ever-expanding CSI franchise). In comparison, Madonna’s pop stylings are a little…fluffy. And that’s something no amount of choreography can cover up.

In her quest to be the ultimate Super Bowl spectacle, Madonna crossed the line between style and substance. It was all for the eyes, with not a lot left for the crotchety music writers like myself. Still, there’s always next year…


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