If one needs any more evidence of Madonna’s
increasing musical irrelevance, here it is. Celebration
is a dud. While theoretically I support her return to dance, this is a track with zero originality — it could be anyone’s
track. She doesn’t even seem herself in the spoken word sections, normally a Madonna strength. And despite it’s celebratory intent, there is no soul. Once again she sounds like she’s phoning it in. She makes all the right noises about being yourself, chasing pleasure etc., but she may as well have been recording it from the treadmill, slave to her insatiable work ethic. A sad day this is. I was hoping that after such a setback as Hard Candy
, she would be reborn.
on the other hand has snuck out of hibernation to produce a killer track with a fantastic clip (which echoes Madge’s Sorry
, as if to emphasise some kind of changing of the guard). She Wolf
is disco fun at its best. My hips shake even writing about it. And I love the clip’s bizarre concoction of contrary scenes: Shakira gyrating in some kind of glitter womb; her recreation of MJ’s Smooth Criminal
‘lean forward’ move; the bit where she basically detaches her hips in some kind of cage; and her climactic dance solo which evokes early 2000 J.Lo ‘house’ dance in a thoroughly satisfying way. This is adventurous, progressive and full of soul. Shakira is the new pop innovator.
I likee. And Madge is looking pleasingly refreshed too… feels like the world is back on its proper orbit.
More off-season Kylie merch, this time from Spanish jeweller Tous. Directed by Ellen von Unwerth, it seems to have been filmed on tour and features some of the dancers as well as her glamorous-glamorous-gl-glamourous (flossy flossy) musical director Sarah DeCourcy (I think), who looks exactly as one would imagine musical directors look in 70s Bond films. Very much poaches the Justify my Love concept (also filmed mid-tour) of saucy maid in Euro-hotel peering through ‘peep-hole’ to catch god knows what going on inside, except in contrast to Madge’s sinful festival of erotica, all that seems to be happening here is K skipping around drinking champagne, spinning around to feel dizzy (like we did in primary school), and then passing out on top of a giant fur rug. For reference, here’s Justify my Love, although unfortunately the only version I could get has a very different song overlaid, which makes for a very different effect….
Even today, I don’t think you’d get someone of Madonna’s (celebrity) stature making a clip like this. I think we’ve become accustomed to seeing bodies, but nothing this darkly erotic.
Thank you Rage. I did indeed want Madonna’s Burning Up to greet me this morning. Because this has to be one of the best lyrics ever, particularly when you know who uttered it.
Do you wanna see me down on my knees?
Or bending over backwards now would you be pleased?
Unlike the others I’d do anything
I’m not the same, I have no shame
I’m on fire.
PS Note Christopher Ciccone as backup dancer in The Tube clip…
Kylie admits to Botox, and various other miscellaneous procedures. Good on her. I admire her delicate wording around plastic surgery “issues”. Traditionally she’s said she makes the best of what’s available to look her best, and then quite rightly points out that when she looks good we say she’s had work done, and when she doesn’t we say she’s old, and probably should get work done. Fair point. Because I think on some level we want her to remain ageless.
I’ve also enjoyed Courtney Love’s (initial) response to plastic surgery rumours — wearing a smirk, and with a twinkle in her eye, she simply proclaimed the transformative powers of yoga. Then there’s Cher’s choice quote: “they are my tits and if I wanna have them put on my back that is my own damn business”. Another fair point. And speaking of such bold procedures, Joan Rivers has now written a guide to plastic surgery, which I’m not entirely sure is a joke.
But still no word from Madge:
As a rule I find plastic surgery much more creepy when it’s not spoken about. For example, every time I see a photo of Madge’s face now I can’t help but picture two silicone orbs stuffed under her cheeks. Cheeks are huge right now.
Back in January I started a lazy pop cultural wrap up of 2008 and got as far as Sticky & Sweet and KylieX2008. Yes, many other things happened last year, but these were such obviously monumental events they deserved primary consideration. But as it’s, like, March, I thought I’d continue sifting through the wash-up of a quite significant year in pop…
You know something’s going on if two groundbreaking female pop icons forged in the mid-8os, both recently turned 50, release albums within months of each other. And while I remember thinking when these came out that they seemed such different approaches for mid-life pop stars to take, there’s actually some structural similarity between the two that makes their apparent differences even more interesting.
Most obviously, Madge’s Hard Candy is a take on R&B, whereas Cyndi’s thrown her lot into eurodance (which is, funnily enough, where Madge was positioning herself with Confessions on a Dance Floor). When I first heard that Madge was going to be working with Timbaland and Timberlake I was a little worried — why would she follow up something groundbreaking by jumping on a bandwagon that had already passed? Well, there’s always some method to Madge’s near pathalogical fascination with the new. It turns out Confessions just didn’t sell well in the US. On a business level, I guess it would make sense to claw back the American market by givin em’ what they want, but artistically it seemed quite regressive that she would sell herself out to hit-makers who were already beginning to lose their sheen.
While I can say with utter certainty that the result, Hard Candy, is awful, I’m still intrigued by it for reasons unknown. I think the awfulness stems from the improbability of a 50 year old control freak singing:
See which flavor you like and I’ll have it for you
Come on in to my store, I’ve got candy galore
Don’t pretend you’re not hungry, I’ve seen it before
I’ve got turkish delight baby and so much more.
This sounds creepy, but something about it keeps making me think of menopause, although I’m sure that’s some sick preoccupation of my own. 4 minutes seemed similarly disingenuous, with it’s half-hearted and vague eco-message (messages which always seem a bit off from Madonna and her ‘nannies, assistant driver and a jet’). To boot, she sounded completely bored throughout, except, interestingly, in the excellent Give it 2 Me — I always believe Madonna more when she’s singing about getting what she wants, working hard, and screwing over whoever gets in the way. But most of it was bad R&B dross. So, so, sad, and a commercial failure, which proves once again that you don’t crack America by making music you expect America wants. But still my fascination. I think it’s cause I secretly want to believe that Madonna remains eternal, and if you listen to select moments and don’t actually look at her, you can just for a second believe she’s unstoppable.
Even though Cyndi Lauper’s Bring Ya to the Brink was a no-apologies dance record, it was Max Martin who she turned to for some of its best bits, which suggests that its quirkiness was coming from her own input rather than producer smarts. It also means that, in terms of turning to the hit-makers, Lauper wasn’t that different to Madge in her method. Martin’s Into the Nightlife has one of the *best* choruses I’ve heard in a long time, and while some songs veered into anonymous disco, her personality’s so winning they’re saved from complete banality. But most satisfying were the more ballady moments (e.g. Echo), where she proved she’s still able to project fragility and vulnerability with the same kind of authenticity she showed with Time After Time and True Colours. Considering Madge’s obsession with youth, it’s funny that Bring ya seems like a much younger record — I can actually believe that Lauper would, you know, go out and stuff, whereas Madge seems like she might be taking tips from Lourdes. If Hard Candy is a steely career women botoxed to oblivion (or perhaps some Patty Hughes from Damages type creature), Bring ya is the fun and kooky art teacher who never works out but still goes clubbing on the weekends. Or something.