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Madonna talks about her upcoming Super Bowl halftime show in Indianapolis, Feb. 2, 2012.

Jeff Haynes / Reuters

To paraphrase a certain peroxided pop star, if we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate just one day out of life, it would be so nice. For North America, that annual day is Super Bowl Sunday, an event that this year features that audacious singer, Madonna.

She may or may not shock in Indianapolis, site of the 46th edition of the NFL's season-capper. Rumours have the set list including Holiday, Ray of Light, Vogue, Music and her new single Give Me All Your Luvin'. She has gone on record to say that there will be no nipples involved.

What she is doing is working with the best and brightest, starting with the Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil as her show's design team. Expected onstage with her are MIA and Nicki Minaj, the saucy pop sensations who also appear on the new single. Think Madonna was simply kissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 Video Music Awards? Not a chance – she was vampiring young blood, and she'll be doing it again Sunday with fresher, new-generation stars.

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There was a time when we watched her closely, enjoying her image-making and shocky shenanigans immensely. Where Katy Perry just sang about kissing a girl and liking it, Madonna did it, live and nation-wide. Nearly two decades earlier, also at the VMAs, her Madgesty writhed famously, all in white, touching us outrageously for the very first time.

Now? We laugh at her. Laugh at her awkward appearance at this year's Golden Globes, hoot at her strange mid-Atlantic accent. Remember that scene in her 1991 tour documentary Truth or Dare, where everyone in the dressing room cackled behind Kevin Costner's back after he left the room? Madonna is now that Costner.

Make no mistake, she's the Queen of Pop. Her newest music is contemporary and damn good, and her Sticky & Sweet Tour of 2008-09 was a commercial and critical smash – a bold, sexy spectacle from a top-hatted superstar inspired.

And yet, despite her huge fan base, in general Madonna is not well-liked. It's highly doubtful that she instructed volunteer staffers at this year Toronto International Film Festival not to look at her (as was the rumour), but would we put it past her? No, we would not.

Madonna is everywhere these days. She's come down from the mountain to allow us to hear and see her, with a new album ( MDNA) due on March 23 and a mammoth tour to follow. She's done Leno; she unveiled her single Give Me All Your Luvin' on American Idol on Thursday; and, as mentioned, there's that big gig on Sunday, with the world as her audience for one of the very few galvanizing TV monoculture events still alive.

For all her innovation, Madonna is still old school. She may think "social media" refers to a cocktail party with the publishers of Rolling Stone, Vogue and Time. Where Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters, Madonna has her loyal followers she expects to "work all year," she recently told Newsweek, to afford to pay for high-priced concert tickets.

The rules of rockstarism have changed, but not for artists like her. The Madonnas and the Rolling Stones and Princes and U2s and Paul McCartneys do it like it's 1985, playing by rules that are grandfathered. They emerge from their mansions, hold out their hands to see if it's raining or not and hit the mainstream media full force. And there's no bigger commercial than halftime at the Super Bowl.

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So, snicker all you want, Madonna might well say to her detractors. She'll likely blow the roof off Lucas Oil Stadium with her miniconcert and have us all talking and tweeting about it for days. She laughs last, living to die another day, happy Holiday to all.

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About the Author

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

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