Sunday at the Super Bowl, Madonna will take the world’s grandest stage, performing at halftime in front of nine-tenths of earth’s population.
It is the biggest single performance in a lifetime of big performances. And it’s a level she’s been working up to since she first rolled around on the stage at MTV’s inaugural Video Music Awards in 1984, showing glimpses of her incredible starpower (and, ahem, her underwear).
Before Sunday’s Big Game, here’s a look at Madonna’s top TV performances through the years.
Video Music Awards, 1984
She made it through the wilderness, she made it through-ough-ough. And the moment she ditched her faux-husband at the top of that chintzy wedding cake and rolled around on the floor with her wedding dress hiked up, a star was born.
Video Music Awards, 1989
This performance of
“Born This Way” “Express Yourself” is Madonna at her toughest, most empowering and most invincible. She also seems to be having all of the fun.
Video Music Awards, 1990
Madonna and her dancers don Victorian-era costumes in this risque high concept set piece for “Vogue,” which is worth revisiting for the elaborate, awesome hand fan choreography alone.
Saturday Night Live, 1993
She begins illuminated by a single spotlight, but the stage opens up revealing a full band as Madonna works through her cover of the sultry classic “Fever.” However, I can’t help but feel those modified jazz hands are a message to someone in the viewing audience. Rodman, perhaps?
American Music Awards, 1995
Madonna usually doesn’t do small, but she dials down here for a simple take on her Bedtime Stories hit, and is joined by Babyface who lends both backing vocals and moral support. One of Madonna’s bravest, most vulnerable performances.
The Late Show With David Letterman, 2000
Madonna straps on an acoustic guitar for this naked, stripped down version of “Don’t Tell Me.” (Side note: Who’s that dude next to her?)
Video Music Awards, 2003
Three minutes and 56 seconds into this clip, Madonna and Britney swap spit. Ignore the fact that it’s the only thing salvageable about this performance — her wobbly version of “Hollywood” makes an already forgettable song even forgettabler, and the less said about “yo yo yo, who that be?” the better — it was an iconic moment nonetheless. And I bet Christina Aguilera is still mad her kiss got subbed out in favor of Justin Timberlake’s reaction shot.
Grammy Awards, 2006
Joined by Gorillaz in a pre-performance video, Madonna hits the stage with her team of dancers and does disco proud on this energetic version of her “Confessions on a Dance Floor” hit, “Hung Up.”