Archived Story

Madonna’s songs are perfect for football

Published 9:00pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

By Alexandra Kloster, Pass the Hot Dish

Madonna and controversy, two great tastes that taste great together. Extreme reaction has followed Madonna since she stepped onto the dance floor at “American Bandstand” in 1984 and told Dick Clark she wanted to rule the world. Some loathe her, some love her, but few land in between.

No sooner was it announced this week that Madonna would perform at the halftime show for Super Bowl XLVI than the predictable backlash began. The Internet, home of the hostile response, blew up with charges that Madonna was too old for the gig and said she was a has-been.

Maybe she is too old. She’s 53 after all, and the NFL is known for booking names that are fresh and new. Look at the youthful roster of halftime acts from 2005-2010: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and The Who. What do you get when you add them all together? A pack of the greatest rock legends of all time and a full table at Denny’s at 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.

I admit Madonna is a has-been. She has been famous longer than most marriages last. She has been selling out giant arenas throughout the world for nearly 30 years, and for decades she has been able to stay relevant in a culture with an attention span of about 10 minutes. She has been able to do that and a lot more.

Many people don’t realize that Madonna’s dedicated a substantial portion of her body of work to football, making her the most logical choice for the Super Bowl halftime show. I, for one, am surprised that she wasn’t snapped up for the job long before this.

Early in her career she wrote the song “Borderline,” originally titled “Encroachment, 5 Yards”, about those special players who love the game so much they can’t help jumping off sides every other play.

She showed she understood their struggle with the lyrics, “Something in your eyes is makin’ such a fool of me … Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind … Keep on pushing me baby/Don’t you know you drive me crazy?”

In “4 Minutes” Madonna shined a light on the importance of good clock management. She sang, “I’m outta time and all I got is four minutes … I want somebody to speed it up for me then take it down slow … Tick tock tick tock tick tock.” Rumor has it Rex Ryan made Mark Sanchez put that one on his iPod.

No song ever captured the wonder of a successful Hail Mary pass the way “Like a Prayer” did. Every quarterback who ever closed his eyes and hurled the ball toward the end zone with one second on the clock and a wish on his lips recognized the power in the lyrics, “Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery/Just like a dream, you are not what you seem/Just like a prayer …” Ask Tommy Kramer. He’ll tell you.

Perhaps the most poignant ode to football Madonna ever recorded was “Take a Bow” about the life of the lonely kicker. I can’t listen to “Take a bow the night is over … You deserve an award for the role that you played … you’re one lonely star” without tearing up a little.

There are so many others, “Express Yourself” about the injustice of excessive celebration penalties, “Material Girl” which was resurrected earlier this year during the NFL lockout, and “Who’s That Girl?” a scathing commentary on last year’s Brett Farvre scandal.

Finally, who could forget Madonna’s take on the partnership between a quarterback and his star receiver, “Causing a Commotion”? What describes this unique relationship better than, “I’ve got the moves baby, you got the motion/If we got together we’d be causing a commotion”?

Yes, Madonna has Charles Atlas arms and, yes, she speaks with an accent that sounds like she was born on a ship headed to nowhere, but she’s strong. She doesn’t let her detractors define her. When she’s knocked down she always gets back up, and when she succeeds she acts like she’s been there before.

That reminds me a lot of a game I know. Yeah, it’s football. The NFL finally got it right. They chose someone who never says die and who is as tough as every player on the field.

Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at alikloster@yahoo.com, and her blog is Radishes at Dawn at alexandrakloster.com.