When Madonna talked to the audience in her interview with Anderson Cooper, she said "I have eight minutes to set it up and seven minutes to take it down and twelve minutes to put on the greatest show on earth." (Read Here) Yes, she did it, and that 12 minutes are not just fabulous and innovative, but truly qualified as "the greatest show on earth."
Many would argue against this statement, and as you can read from the comments on Youtube. Those who dislike the show criticize her for lip sync as well as lame dance, and there are even comments saying that she represents some kind of dark occult that might have endanger the social norms. The last critique is ridiculous. If you want to view the pop culture through such standards, then there is no pop culture. Can you imagine living in a world of drought, just like the middle ages when the "orthodox" religious beliefs rule everything? But even in that period of time, festivals were still allowed and the pop culture was lively among laymen. Those who believe in such standards probably detest the fantasy world of Dante or Rabelais, and they probably hate the Carnival of Venice, the Rio Carnival, and the Mardi Gras in Sydney or New Orleans.
As for those who criticize her for lip sync and lame dance, they have been too harsh on her. She is 53, and putting on a show this grand is never easy. For those who have never perform on stage, they would not know how difficult it is to sing and dance at the same time, particularly on a stage this big. Go ask a Broadway musical performer! In fact, the last song Like a Prayer was a live performance, and even though I do think Madonna is not a great singer, she did it quite well. I do agree that her dancing movements are less powerful than she did before in her concerts, but the varieties of dance and the incorporation of acrobatics, marching, as well as cheerleading enrich the overall performance marking Madonna's innovation and creativity.
Except Give Me All Your Luvin (featuring Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.) is the new song from MDNA (2012), the rest is famous and catchy old songs. Vogue and Music are so popular that even the non-fans of Madonna would be able to sing a bit of them. When old songs are performed, naturally they bring about nostalgia, which certainly helps create the desired ambience. According to Fredric Jameson, this nostalgia marks the weakness of postmodern arts, that is, its inability to represent and fashion the contemporaneity (see Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, 21). However, this 12 minutes show is a nostalgia with a reshaped form in which bold innovations are inserted to renew the old images of these songs. In other words, Modonna's world of Roman soldiers, Greek gods, cheerleaders, acrobatic performers, street dancers, choir singers, as well as marching ensemble is a world of multifarious artistic forms, and none of these component parts is irrelevant to or detached from the modern lifestyle: the cheerleaders and marching ensemble in Glee, the Greek gods and Roman soldiers from the latest Hollywood films, the world-famous acrobatic performance from Cirque du Soleil, the street dance that everyone enjoys on Live to Dance in the US or Got to Dance in the Uk, and lastly the church choir whose singing can also touch those who are not a member of Christianity. Everything is identifiable and easy to capture for those in the auditorium or in front of the TV.
Multifarious pastiche is the nature of contemporary pop culture, but Madonna's creativity and sincerity turn such a pastiche into a fine artistic expression. The ensemble is not simply an arbitrary combination of forms. Each component part is placed carefully in relation to the overall performance. This is why they do not contradict but complement each other, and the ensemble not only charms the crowd, but also confirms their mental image of the contemporary pop culture. Thus, this successful portrayal of the modern life and entertainment renews Madonna's old songs and the nostalgic ambience is replaced with the passion of the cheering crowds. Her creativity makes her the real queen of contemporary pop culture, a true icon for twenty-first century pop fashion. Some might want to compare her with Lady Gaga, but the truth here is "Madonna is irreplaceable." She has passed the phase to use grotesque or bizarre performances to legitimize her status. Now she renews herself from her own past. She evolves from within, and this is why she is amazing.