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Madonna's seeming lip synching leaves this critic cold at Super Bowl halftime



madonna-halftime.jpegAfter watching Madonna appear to lip synch her way through a cast-of-thousands Super Bowl halftime show Sunday featuring Cee Lo Green in a drum major’s outfit, Nicki Minaj dressed like an Egyptian princess-turned-cheerleader, and an afro-ed tightrope walker, I have one modest proposal for the next performer at the Big Game.

Anybody who doesn’t actually sing, has to give back half their pay (or half the royalties from all the extra albums they sell, if there’s no pay).

Forgive me for expecting a live performer at the Super Bowl to do more than re-enact a cool-looking music video onstage.

And I’m sure some stone Material Girl fans really enjoyed her stroll through Vogue, Music, new single Give Me all Your Luvin’ and Like a Prayer.

Frankly, I was disappointed she didn’t dedicate Like a Virgin to a certain Mr. Tebow and puzzled that a song about looking cool in an urban club was backed by an ancient Egyptian look straight from The Ten Commandments.

Still, it was a performance filled with flash and sass — Madonna’s two biggest trademarks — culminating with a huge choir and gospelized vocal runs by Cee Lo (and, according to TMZ, a quick flip of the bird by M.I.A. to the audience; don’t tell the FCC!) Click here to see the Material Girl nearly take a tumble during her routine.

As it turns out, Madonna’s overly-hyped aerobic workout was a perfect metaphor for what worked and didn’t in the daylong extravaganza which has become the non-sports programming surrounding the Super Bowl game.

clarkson-anthme2.jpgMy favorite musical moment, for example, wasn’t Madonna’s star-studded avalanche of dance moves, but American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s emotional rendition of the National Anthem.

Delivered with the backing of a chorus and just enough vocal muscle to remind us why she was America’s original Idol in the first place, Clarkson wiped away the bitter memories of Christina Aguilera’s stumbles last year with a single, glorious moment.

Simplicity. Talent. And lots of heart. That was the key to success on Sunday — both on the field and on the tube.

Likewise, when it came to dissecting the ads, what worked best for this critic wasn’t the spots we’d heard so much about for days and sometimes weeks leading up to the big game.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I’d already seen Matthew Broderick recreate his Ferris Bueller hijinks for Honda and watched Jerry Seinfeld lose the first Acura NSX to Jay Leno in a rocket backpack.

eastwood-superbowlad.jpgSo what stood out on Sunday was the unexpected. Clint Eastwood walking down a dark street for Chrysler, reminding America “this country can’t be knocked out by one punch; we get right back up again and when we do, the world’s going to hear the roar of our engines.” (yeah, it was a mixed metaphor, but it was Dirty Harry delivering it!)

Just like Eminem’s stark commercial from 2011, Eastwood’s ad was a shot of showbiz nostalgia, fierce patriotism and blind celebrity worship, wrapped in a single, hopeful message.

No computer generated weight loss (Toyota) or pop stars falling through trap doors (Elton John for Pepsi). Just an American icon telling us our best days are still ahead.

Aside from Chrysler, I loved the Doritos ads which appeared throughout the game, especially the spot starring the guy who gets bribed with a bag of the chips by a dog to stay mum on what happened to the family cat.

And even though the commercial itself was fairly lame, Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon” proved an amazing soundtrack for an Audi ad featuring LED headlights which accidentally wipe out a campfire party filled with vampires (why that makes you buy the car, I still haven’t figured out.)

Indeed, too many ads Sunday were too hard to figure.

Why would try to sell software helping you prepare your tax returns with a commercial featuring a little boy who seems to relive himself in a pool?

Why did Chevy assume watching people bungee jump and skydive with its new Sonic subcompact car would make me want to buy it?

My only hope, is that the next halftime performer ditches the lip synching and gives us real musicianship.

America’s biggest entertainment showcase deserves nothing less.

[Last modified: Monday, February 6, 2012 8:48am]


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