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Four reasons Madonna rocked the Super Bowl

Madonna performs with the slackliner Sketchy Andy at the Super Bowl game Sunday.

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Her new single Give Me All Your Luvin' is retro bubblegum pop, its style third-generation from Toni Basil's Mickey (1982), which was already echoed in Avril Lavigne Girlfriend (2007).

But if Madonna had her Cleopatra moments at Sunday's Super Bowl during her Roman Empire-themed halftime show, she's hardly ancient history. Four aspects of her ambitious 12-minute concert showed her taste for au courant antics.

Slacklining That wasn't a toga-wearing Richard Simmons or Will Ferrell bouncing on twangy rope as if it was a trampoline, it was Andy Lewis, a.k.a Sketchy Andy. His low-wire high jinks involved the obscure and relatively young sport of slacklining (or tricklining), apparently developed by rock climbers.

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M.I.A. Madonna is no spring chicken; her bad-girl days behind her. So, hire Maya Arulpragasam – a rebel-rapper who makes Lady Gaga look like, well, Lady Madonna – to do the bird-flipping and bad-wording on prime-time TV.

Cirque du Soleil By working with the Montreal-based circus franchise, Madonna was doing much more than sending in the clowns. Cirque is behind Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, a wildly successful production. The sets and costumes were equal doses Vegas vamp and weird gladiatorial ceremony.

LMFAO The Material Girl makes no apologies for jumping on the shoulders of DJs Redfoo and SkyBlu, the electro-dance duo with the smash Sorry for Party Rocking album, even audaciously borrowing their "I'm sexy and I know it" line.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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