Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Super Bowl Half-Time Show: Madonna, Prince, or Michael Jackson?

If you were one of the 111.3 million viewers who were tuned into Super Bowl XLVI Sunday night, you saw 53 year-old pop legend, Madonna, perform this year's half-time show. Her grand entrance, complete with sexy muscled gladiators, a black and gold stage, dancers, majorettes and  appearances by some of today's biggest stars (Cee-Lo, Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, and MIA) caused many to say that this is one of the best half-time shows they've seen...

Madonna during Super Bowl 2012

Nah, I don't think so. I thought Madonna's performance was great considering the longevity of her career, her constant ability to re-invent herself, and the fact that she was doing acrobats on stage that girls half her age or younger can't do. All the gold and glitter, majorettes, and touching gospel choir at the end, made me give this performance a B. However, calling this the best, would do a disgrace to two of world's other greatest pop/rock starts, Michael Jackson & Prince injustice!

Michael Jackson during Super Bowl XXVII
For those of you who are too young to remember, or may have forgotten, Michael Jackson set the tone for the Super Bowl half-time show in 1993. Unlike the previous years, he was the only performer. After catapulting on stage he sang a few hits and ended with a 3500 children's choir singing "We Are The World" and "Heal The World."

The networks saw an increase in audience figures during the Super Bowl XXVII half-time show. Michael Jackson was such a big name at the time, that rival network FOX did not air counter-programming like the did in previous years (airing a special edition of "In Living Color in '92) and never did again. After his performance, the Super Bowl stage became one of THE most coveted stages for artists to perform. Many hail this as one of Thriller singer's most memorable performances.  Everyone knows Michael was one of the greatest performers of all time, but what artist incorporated full audience participation? There was not a soul in the stands without a colored poster board. Now, that's boss!

The Artist Known as Prince performing during Super Bowl XLI
In 2007, the artist and King of Purple musician and singer, Prince, performed for the Super Bowl XLI half-time show. In all of his royal splendor, he performed cover hits by Bob Dylan, Queen, and the Foo Fighters surrounded by two hot dancers he called "The Twinz." He also performed "Let's Go Crazy" and his classic song, "Purple Rain" from his Oscar-winning movie.

What was so memorable about this performance, in addition to his musicianship, was the fact that it was actually raining during during his performance! The crowd was moved as they had a moment of 80s nostalgia. This would serve as one of Prince's most memorable performances and many critics dubbed this one of the greatest half-time shows they had seen.

You'd have to have grown up in the eighties/nineties  to understand the friendly rivalry between all three stars. When people ask who the biggest stars of the eighties were, these three always come to mind. They OWNED the eighties. In terms of their Super Bowl half-time performances, I will have to go with Michael Jackson, and Prince in that order. The reason being is because they owned that stage by themselves. There wasn't "Michael Jackson featuring....." or "Prince along with....". THEY were the only names out there tearing the stage down sans a children's choir, guest musicians, and dancers. In other words, there was only ONE mic.

Madonna on during Super Bowl XLVI with Nicki Minaj and MIA
In Madonna's case, she shared the stage with other younger and urban performers. One reason being, she's coming out with a new album and needs the extra push. She also wants to reach a younger audience to keep herself relevant in this age of digital music and bubblegum music, which is the reason for her latest single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" (and which would explain Nicki and MIA). Could she have carried the show by herself? Possibly. But would the ratings have been as high? Not likely. 

Madonna's performance actually reminded of Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" video and the classic movie Coming to America with Eddie Murphy in light of the gladiators and the whole Egyptian theme. Her touch with the majorettes and band theme was something that Prince had already done in 2007 with the Florida A&M  marching band. We've also seen the whole choir thing before as well, so that was nothing original. Her "World Peace" finale visionary added a nice "We Are The World" touch to her grand performance.  The fact that Madonna was upstaged by MIA flipping the bird adds insult to injury. More people are discussing that, than the performance today. I guess that was supposed to be the controversial Janet-Justin performance thing that we're supposed to remember and talk about for days to come. 

Madonna with Cee-Lo Green
I'm not dissing Madonna's performance. Like I said earlier, I think she did exceptionally well and it was great to watch. But there was nothing original or futuristic about the performance to receive "the best" and "greatest of all time" accolades, in my opinion. If it wasn't for the help of her co-performers, I don't think her show would have gotten as many viewers, but that's another story. I just think if you're going to hail someone as the greatest Super Bowl performer or the best, you're to have come a little harder than her performance.You just can't bestow those titles upon artists all willy nilly if you don't know your history. 

Anyway, that's my take on the show. Who do you think had the best Super Bowl half-time performance? Madonna, Prince, or Michael Jackson?


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