FOX Sports Exclusive
Madonna primed for Super Bowl show
Minutes before the NFL’s Super Bowl halftime news conference started Thursday afternoon, a pair of middle-aged men waited eagerly in the back of a packed ballroom for the “Material Girl” to emerge.
“I had a poster of Madonna in my dorm room back in college,” one of the gentlemen said, half-giggling. “She had fishnet stockings and was crawling on a bed. I wish I still had it. I’d have her sign it.”
The other man laughed, and the two continued on with their conversation, moving on to subjects ranging from their kids’ respective daycare costs, the details of one of their divorces and their most recent golf trips.
An hour earlier, I asked Giants rookie practice squad member Brandon Bing what his favorite Madonna song was. “I was born in 1989, man. So, I don’t know much Madonna. Before my time, you know?"
Seated next to Bing was Giants defensive tackle Dwayne Hendricks, born in 1986. He smiled sheepishly, “I couldn’t tell you all of her songs, no, but I think I know some of them.” Pressed to name some, Hendricks mumbled “Material Girl”, shrugged, and smiled.
So Madonna might not be as popular with the younger generation as she was with frat guys in the 1980’s.
But she’s ready to re-acquaint herself with the world in a big way Sunday.
Madonna insists she’s a big football fan. After posing for 10 minutes of photos, in which she showed off biceps larger than just about every person in Indianapolis without an NFLPA union card, she told the ballroom full of media, “This a Midwestern girl’s dream to be performing at the halftime of the Super Bowl. I have to say, in the over 25 years of performing that I’ve done, I’ve never worked so hard or been so scrupulous, or detail-oriented, or freaked out in trying to make the most amazing show for the Super Bowl.”
She’s going to bring it and she’s going to bring it hard.
Injury and all.
Though Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s high-ankle sprain has gotten more attention this week in NFL circles, Madonna’s hamstring was all the buzz Thursday afternoon. Apparently, the Detroit, Michigan native suffered a hammy pull back in December, while preparing this Sunday’s performance, “I’m OK. I sound like one of the players. Lots of taping. Lots of ultrasound. Mind over matter, you know?”
Asked if she had would have her “game face” on by a giddy TV entertainment reporter, the Material Girl smiled in a very Madonna “Did you really just force a football pun on me?” way and responded, “Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”
Madonna didn’t reveal too much about her Super Bowl halftime show, but she did reveal the following:
- She’ll perform her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin'” at some point in the set. SWEET!
- She’ll be singing at least three of her classic “old songs” in said set. OMG!
- There will be celebrity guests, with rumors of a Nicki Minaj appearance all over the Internet. YAY!
- Great attention to detail has been paid to her wardrobe and there will be no wardrobe malfunctions. “I promise,” she assured. BOO!
But this isn’t the same Madonna who was writhing around on a bed wearing fishnets back in the 1980’s. This isn’t the Madonna that FOXSports.com national columnist Mark Kriegel saw perform in New York’s Peppermint Lounge in 1984, leading him to tell me Thursday, “She had the best midriff since Barbara Eden. Remember her? From 'I Dream of Jeannie?' Before she got superstar famous, Madonna was sexy without being explicit. She didn't need PR stunts or the cone bra. You have no idea, man. You have no idea.”
So, yeah, this isn’t that Madonna.
Asked what she liked most about the city of Indianapolis, she didn’t cite a popular club or late-night haunt. She went with the city’s Children’s Museum and explained how she looked forward to taking her children there this weekend.
The Children's Museum. Not quite the scene with the multiple dancers sprawled out on her bed in “Truth or Dare.”
And that’s OK.
Young Madonna, old Madonna, any Madonna will be just fine Sunday.
“The show is too short to be more than a quick, hyper-choreographed medley of greatest hits that won't sound anywhere near as good as they do on the record,” says Bloomberg Businessweek “Etc.” section editor Julian Sancton. “In the last few years — with the notable exception of Prince and the Black Eyed Peas — the main takeaway from the halftime show has been: ‘Hey, look who's still alive and kickin!'"
“The NFL doesn’t really need chart popularity or even popular popularity — the halftime acts transcend that kind of barometer,” says Claire Howorth, life and arts director at The Daily. “The Rolling Stones in 2006? The greatest rock band ever. They may be 900 years older than Matt Turk, but they are the Rolling Stones. Bruce Springsteen is Bruce Springsteen. Madonna is Madonna, everlasting.”
There’s one halftime show, though, that seemingly everyone remembers.
And it’s not the Up With People one that lives on infamously (notoriously?) on YouTube.
Four Giants players, seated at a table during Thursday’s media session, recalled Michael Jackson’s legendary 1993 performance as the greatest one of all. “Go YouTube it,” smiled running back Andre Brown.
“He was standing up, waiting for five minutes, atop this huge stage, with the whole crowd just staring up at him, waiting for him. No one could touch him. Then they started and it’s amazing. YouTube it.”
Ms. Howorth remembers exactly where she was for Jackson’s ’93 performance, vividly recalling, “Michael Jackson's 1993 show is the one I remember totally freaking out over, as did everyone who saw it.
"It was living history. Him at a career high, during a string of hits and a huge tour, and I was 12 years old, so, of course. The impersonators, the crowd holding up signs for ‘Heal the World,’ the ‘Thriller’ tease. Oh, man.”
I have no doubt Madonna, playing hurt, will deliver the goods and rival The King of Pop on Sunday night.
She’ll have her “game face” on.
As for those fishnet stockings?
Who knows? Maybe she'll break those out, too.
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