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7:54 p.m. It's half time and that means it's almost Madonna time!!! While we're waiting, we've review the performances so far. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert did a very fine, if countrified, sedate version of "America The Beautiful." Kelly Clarkson showed, like Carrie Underwood before her a few years ago, that "American Idol" winners are 2-0 in singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. How do you feel they did?
7:58: A few thoughts before she starts: she's supposed to be joined by Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and LMFAO. I'd like to say, before we see any of the halftime, that Madonna does not need anyone to make her more credible or more current or more hip. I feel a little bad that she--or someone--thought she might.
8:02: Madonna comes out pulled by a phalanx of Roman Centurians.. She's playing out some Roman mythology theme, with a very fleet footed Mercury. Amazing stage. Is she lipsyncing? I say yes, but maybe not...What do you think?
8:04 "Music." So much action, but Madge sees strangely lethargic. Is it just me? Incredible stage and field.
8:06: now she's shuffling with the LMFAO, and they've now gone into "I'm Sexy and I Know It." Nice plug for her fellow labelmates at Interscope.
8:07: Now we're off to "Give Me All Your Luvin," and the stage has changed again. Hands down, most amazing stage and production I've ever seen at a Super Bowl.
8:08: Nicki Minaj's energy was 200% higher than Madonna's. Is it possible that Madge is nervous and knows how much is riding on this?
8:10: . LOVE Cee-Lo as drum major. Man, "The Voice" has managed to work two coaches into the Super Bowl. Shortest version of "Open Your Heart" ever.
8:11: Wow. That was am amazingly quick change for Cee-Lo and Madge, but this version of "Like a Prayer" has made up for the slow start. Cee-Lo is taking us to church.
8:13 Madonna disappears into the ground, as World Peace lights up on the field. She's clearly singing live at this point.
So here's my first thought: Amazing production, choreography and effort. Madonna was strong after a lethargic start, but she didn't connect in any meaningful way. However, I've felt the same way the many times I've seen her live: it's almost as if there's a pane of glass between her and the audience and I felt the same way watching her just now. But I think that's her. It was flawless in so many ways. Respect.
Second thought: Not crazy about all the song selections. She should have started more uptempo and "Music" didn't work. And I cannot believe they played Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" right afterward. Someone has a sense of humor.
What did you think of Madonna's half-time show? Give it a grade!
(Talk about bad timing: I was looking down and missed M.I.A.'s flipping the bird, but I write my post-game thoughts on it here)