Six Super Bowl 46 Halftime Show Ideas Better Than Madonna

As you surely know by now, Madonna will be providing the halftime entertainment on Sunday at Super Bowl 46.

Consider me unexcited.

Steve Kubitza recently counted down the five best and five worst Super Bowl halftime shows of the last decade, and my prediction is that Madonna’s will settle in nicely somewhere among the worsts.

That is why I have decided to highlight a handful of halftime show ideas, rated on a scale of Scowling Eltons* and listed in reverse order, that I think would have provided much more event-relevant entertainment than Madonna and possibly even driven more ratings.

Believe me, I get all the reasons why NBC would want Madonna to do the halftime show. She has sold over 300 million records, she has massive worldwide popularity, and a certain subsection of people will tune in to see just how veiny her arms look.

Regardless of your thoughts about her music, at least we can all rest easy knowing Madonna will represent the U.S. with class during the biggest television event in the world.

If I were a TV executive whose job depended on getting the highest possible ratings for the Super Bowl halftime show, I suppose I’d have given Madonna a long, hard look as well despite my lack of interest in her music; and I probably would have been hard-pressed to find reasons beyond personal preference and event appropriateness to go in a different direction.

But that doesn’t mean that as a consumer of the Super Bowl 46 presentation that I like the choice. Nor do I think Madonna is a slam dunk choice to drive ratings simply because she’s Madonna.

* – Why a scale of “Scowling Eltons”? Because I found it hilarious during the Golden Globes when cameras caught Elton John glaring at Madonna while she accepted an award (click to see pic), which was later followed by John’s partner excoriating her on Facebook. They’ve seen made up, apparently, but that didn’t stop John from suggesting to Madonna that she “lip sync good” on Sunday.

Super Bowl 46 Halftime Show Ideas Better Than Madonna

Honorable Mention: The Twin Cats

If you aren’t yet familiar with The Twin Cats and their face-melting funk, it means a) you’ve never listened to an MSF podcast, because they provide most of the intro and outro music, and b) you need to watch SportsNation on ESPN this week, where The Twin Cats – featuring occasional MSF author and longtime friend of the site Nicholas Gerlach on saxophone, will be performing as the house band.

If you want a taste, here are The Twin Cats performing Peleton at the Moustrap in Indianapolis.


Clearly The Twin Cats do not yet have the worldwide stature to be in consideration for the Super Bowl halftime show, even if I personally consider their music far more fun, entertaining, and better than Madonna’s.

But as a friend of Nick’s and a fan of the band, I’m quite proud of them for landing the SportsNation gig, and I implore you all to check out their music and a live show when you can.

So just for fun, and in honor of Gerlach’s beard, I’ll give The Twin Cats one Scowling Elton.

Scowling Eltons:


Honorable Mention: “The Indie Super Bowl Halftime Spectacular”

Why not round up the best local bands in or from Indianapolis and give them the greatest musical showcase of all time? Not only would the music be much better than people expect, it would also allow for a clever Indie Christmas-like title for the halftime show.

Okay, so this has no chance of even being considered simply because of the need for name brand musical acts, but it sure would be punderful, don’t you think?

As for one of the bands that could be included in such a set, how about another friend of the site Kontraband Muzik? They may not have a big name yet, but they do have the musical style (and showmanship) to entertain a football crowd, with songs like this.

I’ll give this idea one Scowling Elton as well. It would never even be considered, but considering the location of Super Bowl 46 this would definitely be the year to try it.

Scowling Eltons:


6. Michael Jackson Tribute

Because he and his brothers became stars under the Motown label, people tend to forget that Michael Jackson is originally from Indiana. He was born and raised in Gary (which, yes, is technically in Indiana), before stardom and the road took Michael and the Jackson far, far away from the Heartland.

People definitely do not forget, however, the epic halftime performance MJ delivered in 1993 at the Rose Bowl.

As Steve mentioned in his post on Super Bowl halftime shows, it was the massive reaction to MJ in ’93 – the halftime show was one of the most watched events in television history – that created the deliberate attempt to lure viewers with big-name acts.

If you’ve forgotten the greatness of MJ the showman in 1993, remember the time:


Of course, the King of Pop passed away a couple of years ago, so he cannot reprise his performance. But with the Super Bowl back in his home state for the first time, and with the memory of his music still so fresh in everyone’s minds, why not put together a tribute to Michael Jackson in honor of the guy without whom the Super Bowl halftime show may not be quite the spectacle it is today?

The caveat to this idea is that I am extraordinarily harsh on any Michael Jackson cover, so I’m doubtful this could be pulled off in a way that I’d give two thumbs up to unless all of Jackson’s vocals were somehow intact, but I’d certainly be intrigued to see it attempted so long as Clown Prince of Pop Justin Bieber and others of his annoying ilk were kept far away from the proceedings.

Regardless, I’d rather listen to clumsily covered Michael Jackson songs than Madonna songs any day of the week.

One group I’d definitely nominate for inclusion in any Michael Jackson tribute is Duwende, who I posted about last week, and who may have the best Billie Jean cover I’ve ever heard.


Because of my worry at how this would be executed, and the likelihood that Bieber would be involved, I’m only going to give it a couple of Scowling Eltons. As Glee has proven, you just can’t trust network TV with classic music, so I don’t want to encourage them.

Scowling Eltons:




5. Journey

There are a number of reasons why this would be a great and potentially even realistic choice.

First, everyone knows Journey’s best stadium anthem-type songs – “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Any Way You Want It,” and “Wheel In The Sky,” just to name a few. You may not love them (at least not that you’d admit), but you know them.

And since the networks are so concerned with eyeballs, and seem to use records sold as the primary halftime eyeball projection, Journey’s 75 million records sold places them well below Madonna but still among the handful of best-selling bands ever.

And consider this: what if Steve Perry came back and sang with Arnel Pineda? It would be like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck playing quarterback for the Colts. Sure, it could get awkward, but the pure spectacle of it would be awesome.

Regardless, whoever is singing lead, Journey would be an awesome choice and far more appropriate for the stage and setting than Madonna. She has nothing that could top the four and a half minutes of sublime stadium music bliss that would occur during “Don’t Stop Believing.”

As proof, here is an excellent live version with Perry, then the new studio version with Pineda in case you’ve never heard how much he sounds like Perry.



The more I typed out this idea, the more I loved it. Journey is perfect for the Super Bowl halftime show, and something tells me if Perry was still with them they’d have booked the gig by now.

Despite Pineda’s excellence as a Perry sub, Perry’s absence lessens the appeal, and thus restricts how many Scowling Eltons I can give this one. I’ll go begrudgingly with five. But if Perry ever agreed to reunite, bump this one all the way to #2.

Scowling Eltons: 5




4. Elton John

While we’re on the subject of Elton John and his scowl…why not him for the Super Bowl halftime show? Sure, a gay Brit with no connection to sports might not be your first choice, but would he really be any less appropriate than Madonna?

Working in Sir Elton’s favor is that he’s in the same record sales stratosphere as his adversary Madonna, and he certainly has the worldwide fame and appeal to get people to tune in.

And consider the possibilities for duets. John has famously worked with Eminem, Billy Joel, and many, many others, which would provide ample opportunity for a star-studded cast to really reel in the viewers.

The question would be what songs John could play that would be football- and Super Bowl-appropriate. I posit that the following would make for a perfectly fine set list that could have cleverly done football montages on the video screen:

  • “Rocket Man” – montage of the most impressive catches of the season, of which there are always so many
  • “Tiny Dancer” – montage of the best and most creative touchdown, sack, and victory celebrations
  • “I Guess That’s Why Call It The Blues” – montage of all the playoff teams who didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, as one final tribute to these teams’ excellent seasons
  • “Bennie and the Jets” – thoroughly entertaining montage of sideline dysfunction and terrible Mark Sanchez throws

And, of course, the set could end with a new version of “Candle in the Wind” written specifically for Peyton Manning’s career.

Goodbye Number Eighteen
Though you’ll never throw another ball
You have first place all to yourself
In the history of Colts’ football.
You wowed us with your footwork
And we marveled at your brain
You set your offense on a treadmill
Of greatness game by game.

Peyton Manning jerseys could be waved by the crowd, lighters could be swayed back and forth, and Manning could even come out of the tunnel for a long, well-deserved ovation from the football world before punching Rob Lowe in the face, lighting fire to Jack Kerouac’s scroll, and announcing his retirement.

This is another one I am liking more and more as I type it out. And John’s star power makes it realistic. Seven Scowling Eltons!

Scowling Eltons: 7



3. Shakira

Before I describe why Shakira as Super Bowl halftime entertaining would be such a great idea, enjoy this possibly NSFW visual evidence of…why Shakira as Super Bowl halftime entertaining would be such a great idea:


Breathe gentlemen. Breathe.

Now back to the task at hand.

First off, Shakira is a worldwide superstar, much like Madonna. Though she has only sold 70 million or so records, which is some 200 million fewer than Madonna, those numbers are skewed based on how long Madonna has been in the music industry and the reality that fewer people buy albums now. It’s quite possible that right now Shakira is actually a bigger global star than Madonna.

FIFA tapped into this for the 2010 World Cup, with Shakira performing the event’s official song.


With Shakira doing the Super Bowl halftime show, she could even do a snippet of this song, which would offer a terrific opportunity for American football and worldwide fútbol to join hands on the world’s grandest stage as friends rather than adversaries. As the NFL looks to increase its global reach, what better message could there be to send?

This focus by the NFL to increase its global brand is also another reason why Shakira would be a better choice than Madonna. Born in Colombia, part Lebanese, and a star in every corner of the globe while singing in multiple languages, Shakira taking the stage in the U.S. at the world’s biggest television event would be a great “global message” for the NFL to send.

Oh, and did I mention that Shakira is really, really, ridiculously good-looking?

And that her dancing is spellbinding?

And that she is one of the most mesmerizing live performers alive today?


I won’t watch a lick of Madonna’s halftime show unless I’m in a snarky mood and feel like mocking it. On the contrary, if Shakira is ever the halftime performer, there is a good chance I’ll shut off my phone, turn off the computer, and stare at the TV for fifteen straight minutes. I imagine I’m not the only man (or woman) who would do the same.

I’ll give this one seven and a half Scowling Eltons, downgrading it only because it’s an outside-the-box idea that I don’t think the TV networks nor NFL would be bold enough to consider. I bet the results would shock them though. Shakira *ahem* pushes the needle, as they say.

Scowling Eltons: 7.5

2. “Kings of Country” Spectacular featuring Garth Brooks, Rodney Atkins, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, and Toby Keith

When people think of music and Indiana together, the name “Madonna” is not anywhere near the top of the list. Shoot, it’s not even on the list. However, people do think of country music, and that is one genre that has not been featured much at Super Bowl halftime shows of yore.

So as you can see, I’ve rounded up five of the biggest stars in country and dubbed them the “Kings of Country” in what would be a fun, entertaining, Hoosier-style musical showcase.

Plus, I’ve even thought this through for the networks. Each one of these gents has songs that not only would be perfect for a football event but that also lend themselves perfectly to product placement and promotion for advertisers.

  • Garth Brooks’ “Standing Outside The Fire” – perfect for a Kingsford Charcoal tie-in (as well as Indy-appropriate shots of Peyton Manning, who unfortunately may never step back into the fire, looking sad and frustrated).
  • Rodney Atkins’ “Take A Back Road” – perfect for numerous automotive tie-ins
  • Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That” – not only is McGraw the husband of NBC’s intro girl Faith Hill, but in this song he sings about going to New Orleans, which would make for a great March Madness/Final 4 tie-in, as well as barbeque sauce, which surely some barbeque company could take advantage of.
  • Alan Jackson’s “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” (with Jimmy Buffet drunk and tagging along) – perfect for a Bud Light tie-in, as it is the official beer of the NFL despite tasting like stale urine.
  • Tony Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” – this one should be obvious, especially in conjunction with Alan Jackson’s song right before it, and Solo really should step up their advertising during sporting events; if that’s not their target market, then what is?


Really, what’s not to like about this set? All five of those songs are great, and they are far more Indiana- and football-appropriate than Madonna. Plus, I’ve already worked out all the revenue-generation for the networks.

Eight Scowling Eltons for this one. It’s ready to be implemented right now.

Scowling Eltons: 8




1. John Mellencamp

Do I really need to posit an argument for this one?

There simply would be no better choice for the halftime entertainment of a Super Bowl in Indiana than Seymour native and Hoosier State great John Mellencamp.

No, he hasn’t sold the albums that Madonna has, nor does he have anywhere near her global appeal, so I suppose I can understand the TV networks going in a different direction. However, I am allowing my own personal bias to trump all reason here and giving Mellencamp and astounding 10 Scowling Eltons.


Besides, it wouldn’t be a totally ridiculous choice, and it certainly would be more event- and locale-appropriate than f’ing Madonna.

Mellencamp is a well known sports fan (IU basketball season-ticket holder, and the primary donor for the John Mellencamp Pavilion on IU’s campus), and has been around long enough and sold enough records to have earned at least a bare minimum of global notoriety to headline a successful halftime show if it were promoted properly.

Plus, his music is excellent, stadium appropriate, and he has a number of very popular hits that people may not even realize that they would recognize.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mellencamp would put on one hell of a great halftime show to culminate a week that is going to make the Hoosier State look awesome because Indy is going to put on such a great Super Bowl.

And if I were creating his set list, I’d kick off the proceedings with this song…


…followed by this little ditty:

I already know what I’m going to be thinking the entire time Madonna is performing whatever overplayed and overrated songs she decides to perform, scowling at the TV like I’m Elton John at the Golden Globes: it shoulda been Mellencamp.

Scowling Eltons: 10

Or Shakira.

I think I kind of really wish it was going to be Shakira.



Now that I have outlined my choices for Super Bowl 46 halftime show ideas that would have been much better choices than Madonna’s it’s your turn to chime in.

Do you agree/disagree with any of my ideas? Do you have some of your own that I overlooked? Comment below.

Update: Immediately after posting this, I received tweets and Facebook comments saying exactly the same thing – “Why did you stop at six!!??” I agree that there are many, many musical acts I’d rather have seen get the halftime gig for Super Bowl 46. I think I’d have preferred Stupid Pet Tricks over Madonna. However, I was trying to be a) realistic and b) timely. If I were to list all of the acts I’d rather see than Madonna, I’d be here until Super 47.

About the Author

Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.