Even if she wasn’t singing live, Madonna took her frenemy’s words to heart. Not content to stop at “good,” Madonna’s performance was great; earning her resounding applause from everyone from Fred Durst to Alec Baldwin and The New Yorker‘s music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, who was liveblogging the event:
I no longer believe that this performance contains any live singing, nor do I care. The song is better than I thought, now it seems as happy as it should have, maybe because of the positive pressure of live performance…
And now it’s “Like a Prayer,” my fifth favorite Madonna song. This crazy-ass video screen field is genuinely wicked. Is this maybe live singing now? Cee-Lo has been brought in to do black lame (I think) gospel robes. This sounds live, and I assume Cee-Lo is here to kill the hook. Madge knows the crowd—choose the song Americans know, and hey, election year, let’s go with prayer.
In conclusion: Did Madonna lip-sync? Probably. (Though we won’t say yes for sure, because we don’t want to get an angry call from Liz Rosenberg tomorrow.)
Did it matter? Not at all. Despite a few detractors, not even Sir Elton John nor Mr. Furnish could muster any public Haterade for a dazzling performance whose only “Fuck You” moment came not from a Cee Lo reference nor a pissed off Madonna, but from M.I.A. trying to make a statement about…lord knows what.
Maybe we need more lip-syncing during these live shows: it certainly couldn’t have hurt last year’s Black Eyed Peas debacle. And the perfect vocals allowed us to pay attention to what really mattered: Madonna’s bizarrely fantastic costume changes. As comedian Julie Klausner tweeted during the show, “Every man’s fantasy of an ancient gay icon cheerleader in front of a marching band just came true.”
What could be more apropos during a football game than that?