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Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Cee Lo, MIA: Who was the best Super Bowl performer?

M.I.A., pre-flip-off. (Christopher Polk/GETTY IMAGES)

Let’s take a brief look at each artist’s Super Bowl 2012 achievements and attempt to make a call the only way we know how: via non-scientific online polling.

Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton


The husband-and-wife country crooners officially opened the Super Bowl festivities with their rendition of “America the Beautiful.” They did a fine job but many people were more dazzled by Lambert’s pink microphone — an item apparently borrowed from the Barbie Dream House Karaoke Room — than by the pair’s perfectly patriotic singing.

Kelly Clarkson


We already covered the very first “Idol” winner’s national anthem performance in a previous post. According to the previously published (and yes, highly scientific) poll regarding her rendition of the song, 80 percent thought it was “absolutely perfect.”



There appear to be mixed opinions about the pop icon’s halftime show. As noted in my play-by-play, I thought the first portion of her performance — particularly the bleacher cartwheels and her muscle flexing alongside LMFAO — was Madonna at her most desperate. But when she launched into the marching band version of “Open Your Heart,” then segued into the gospel “Like a Prayer,” the effect was pretty spectacular. Madge loyalists, of course, argue that she was fabulous throughout, still as energized onstage as she ever was. Agree? Disagree?

Nicki Minaj

(Chris O'Meara/AP)

Hey, you probably forgot that she was also onstage with Madonna and M.I.A. during “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” doing her signature aggressively freaky rapping from Madonna’s newest single. She didn’t have enough memorable solo time to stand out, perhaps. But given how outlandishly Minaj usually dresses, she looked the most at home in the cheerleading-uniform-meets-Roman-warrior outfit.


(David J. Phillip/AP)

M.I.A.’s bird flip may have been crass and, possibly, a calculated bid for attention. Or it may have been a bold commentary on how sanitized the Super Bowl has become, and a dare aimed at NBC’s censors. Either way, M.I.A. provided a memorable moment. But was it entertaining?

Cee Lo Green

(Joe Robbins/GETTY IMAGES)

The second “Voice” team leader to perform during the Super Bowl, he joined Madonna onstage for both “Open Your Heart” and “Like a Prayer.” His powerful vocals of his added some much-needed soul to the showy-but-empty proceeding, and Madonna also seemed genuinely delighted to have him beside her. As an added bonus, he wasn’t mysteriously stroking that white cat the way he repeatedly did during “The Voice” episode that followed the Super Bowl.

So which performer was the best? Vote now and demonstrate how powerful democracy can be when it’s applied to entirely trivial matters.

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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