The news, announced this morning (though still unconfirmed), of Madonna’s planned performance at Super Bowl XLVI, was mostly met—in this office, anyway—with two reactions: “Madonna’s never performed at the Super Bowl before?” and “Awesome, Madonna’s performing at the Super Bowl!” Few performers have the catalog of classic, instantly recognizable party-starting anthems that Madge has amassed over her 30 years in the limelight, and fewer performers still have the presence and prowess that she displays in her live shows, making her an unassailable slam-dunk choice for halftime entertainment at America’s Game. And after last year’s divisive Black Eyed Peas performance, the NFL could use a little unanimity this time around.
But while everyone has their choices for what songs Madonna will or should sing during her performance—and undoubtedly there will be a handful of prop bets to circulate on the subject—there’s only one performance she could give that would undisputedly constitute the Greatest Madonna Super Bowl Performance ever. And as long as nobody’s feeling like taking chances with the show this time around, why not just get her to agree to do this and eliminate any chance of suckiness? Let’s run it down, assuming a 15-minute window:
- 0:00: A sea of twinkling synths give way to the bubbling bass line of “Holiday.” Madonna emerges from underneath the stage to instruct the Super Bowl crowd to get on their feet and clap their hands. She’s wearing her trademark white wedding dress, a wardrobe choice that starts to make sense as she begins singing a transposed version of “Like a Virgin” over the “Holiday” beat. The audience shrieks with recognition while she writhes seductively (for a 52-year-old) on the floor.
- 1:27: As Madonna approaches the chorus to “Virgin,” the backing beat stutters, and Madge repeats “Like a…Like a…Like a…” until the music cuts out entirely and Madonna briefly disappears. Suddenly, the hum of a gospel choir is heard and Madge re-emerges in a low-cut brown dress, singing “Life is a myyyyy-sterrrr-yyy….” She gets through the first two verses and choruses of “Like a Prayer,” and on the final “I’ll take you there,” she points at the goalposts at the far end of Lucas Oil Stadium, which go up in flames like the crosses in the “Prayer” video. The music stops and Madonna disappears again.
- 4:03: Suddenly, Madonna is somehow in the upper deck of the stands. She peers out over the edge like in the beginning of the “Express Yourself” video, shouting “COME ON, SPORTS FANS! DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE??!?!?…” When she gets to the chorus, she substitutes the names of the two quarterbacks for the word “Baby,” (“Don’t go for second best, [E-li/To-ny/Mi-chael/Aa-ron/Tho-mas]“), as the camera cuts to shots of them cracking up and burying their heads in their teammates’ shoulder-pads.
- 6:11: In the second chorus of “Express Yourself,” Madonna’s insistence of “Don’t you know you got to” causes the song to cut from “Express Yourself” to the piano stabs from the bridge of “Vogue.” Madonna then begins with the famous rap-ish verse from the song, but of course, instead of listing all those dead stars from the ’40s, she starts rattling off football legends: “Roger Staubach and Bradshaw / Tittle and Lamonica / Chuck Bednarik, Johnny U / Winning Super Bowls and fans’ hearts too.” When she’s done, she and her backup dancers perform a 45-second-long dance routine that involves Madonna doing the “Heisman” pose and making the Aaron Rodgers “championship belt” gesture.
- 8:49: The final echoes of “Vogue” give way to the opening guitars of “Ray of Light,” played by fellow Detroit native Jack White from a smoky side stage. Madonna gets through a verse and chorus before the beat slows to the electro-funk grind of “Music.” Sasha Baron-Cohen, dressed as Ali G in a cone bra, comes out to do a guest verse, though most of his attempted “football” references are to soccer players no one in the crowd has ever heard of.
- 11:13: After Madonna finishes the first chorus of “Music,” the spotlight cuts away from her to the other side of the stage, where Britney Spears suddenly materializes, singing the “All my people on the floor…” opening from “Me Against the Music.” The two do some of their play-fighting from the song’s video while trading off on the first verse, until a fake referee interrupts them by throwing a flag on their antics for unsportsmanlike conduct. At this, the two smirk at each other and begin a steamy ten-second lip lock that FOX has no choice but to cut away from after a three-Mississippi.
- 12:58: New song. Details TK.
- 14:50: “Thank you everybody! My new album [title] is in stores February! And leeeeeet’s gooooooo LIIIIIOOOOONNNNNNSSS!!!!!“