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Controversial Super Bowl Halftime Show Better Than 2011 But Still Nothing Special

The performance wasn't anything special, but it certainly wasn't bad. Madonna pleased America as best she could, and for a 53-year-old pop mama, she did very well.

It wasn't hard to spot minor slip-ups like Madonna's stumble on the bleachers, but what about M.I.A. flashing a middle finger to the camera? Bet you didn't catch that.

Additional play-by-play review of the Super Bowl 2012 halftime show after the jump...

The show began with a grand entrance fit for a queen. The digital stage was cool, as were Madonna's costumes. Plenty of viewers could have gone without seeing Madge riding one of the dancers during "Vogue," but that's the least of NBC's halftime show concerns. The more all of the dancers moved during "Music," the more Madonna's dancing appeared to be minimal at times. Regardless, she had one hell of a stage presence, as she always does.

As soon as LMFAO came into the picture, everyone around me said, "Ugh!" I felt the same way, and I was delighted that their screen time was limited. But since Madonna looked like such a baller while she was shufflin' with the Gordy boys, I'll reluctantly admit that Madonna made LMFAO's appearance ever so slightly awesome.

Nicki Minaj looked nervous during "Give Me All Your Luvin'," but at least Madonna and M.I.A. kept their cool.

Now wait a minute...did anyone else catch M.I.A. giving the middle finger on the air? There's a purpose to a delay in broadcast, which means NBC has no excuse to not have blurred out M.I.A.'s hand gesture on time (they did blur it out but they were a bit too late).

It is universally understood that there are certain things that should not be flashed on a nation-wide broadcast, no less an event that garners some of the highest viewership of the year. Everyone has nipples, and everyone has two middle fingers, but that's not the point of the FCC's notably careful watch over Super Bowl halftime shows that has endured since Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction in 2004. Performers generally know what is and what isn't appropriate, and there's no question that M.I.A. used poor judgment in flipping the bird during the halftime show. So what if that's the part of the football game that has the least viewers? It obviously didn't go unnoticed.

On a separate note, I predicted incorrectly when I guessed that Cee-Lo Green would have no part in the performance. He practically stole the show, and Madonna shone even brighter thanks to him. I was sold on the show being at least half-awesome when the gospel choir kicked "Like a Prayer" up a notch. Saving the best song for last was a special finishing touch, considering it rounded out a solid super-American event.

Well, if the goal of the artists' performance was to have it be remembered and discussed, then they did it right. Check out the halftime show in its entirety.

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Lenni Rosenblum