This year's game, in which the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17, had been expected to challenge last year's record of being the most-watched U.S. TV event ever.
M.I.A. is best known for her 2007 hit "Paper Planes," a Grammy nominee for record of the year that memorably features a sample of the Clash song, "Straight to Hell." It was featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Slumdog Millionaire."
Madonna had admittedly been nervous about her performance, hoping to position herself as the queen of a new generation of pop stars with an opulent show and a sharp performance that mixed her new release with more familiar songs. She seemed like Roman royalty when muscle-bound men carried her extravagant throne across the football field to the stage for her opening song, "Vogue."
Guests Cee Lo, Nicki Minaj and dance rockers LMFAO also appeared with Madonna. The singing and dancing on "Vogue" was smartly choreographed, as Madonna moved more deliberately — she is 53 — but still adroitly. She briefly appeared to stumble at one point while trying to make a step on the stage set, but recovered in time.
She let a tightrope walker make the more acrobatic moves during a performance of "Music."
Madonna carried gold pompons for a performance of her frothy new single. Twitter was alight with questions about the vocals being lip synched or augmented by tapes, particularly during this song.
The best guest was clearly Cee Lo, who joined Madonna for the final song, "Like a Prayer." They were joined by a robed chorus in the show's most soaring performance. With a puff of white smoke, Madonna disappeared down a trapdoor in the stage, and lights on the field spelled out "World Peace."
The performance was also carried live on SiriusXM Radio, giving Madonna the biggest single audience of her career. For all the elaborate choreography and flashy effects, the finger incident is the more likely headline from the event.
Earlier, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert offered some pregame patriotism. Shelton and Lambert did a twangy duet on "America the Beautiful" and Clarkson, in a simple black dress, sang "The Star Spangled Banner" without a hitch after last year's performer, Christina Aguilera, flubbed a line.
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