What Has She Done To Deserve It?

Whose genius idea was it to get Iggy Pop to play Madonna … in front of Madonna? Is someone on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board trying to punish her? It was possibly the weirdest music pairing I have ever seen. I imagine she thought much the same thing, sitting there at that table near the stage, gamely, awkwardly perhaps, smiling up at him.

I turned on the TV in the middle of his rendition of “Burning Up.” It was pretty punk, pretty kitchy, trashy and flat enough to be funny, and she looked like a nice, conservative, middle-aged lady having a good time. A blonde and ivory vision carved out of butter. Then he broke into “Ray of Light,” introducing it as a “beautiful song,” and wasted no time in performing it not at all beautifully. Her pal JT bobbed his head with the beat, but Madonna looked like a mannequin.

To his credit, Iggy seemed delighted to be playing with these songs, like a little boy wanting to please his mommy. He is plainly very fond of her. Madonna must have been aware of this as she greeted him graciously in the kitchen of the Waldorf-Astoria. “Very well done,” she said. “I liked the horns, actually.” What else could she say 𔃉 Go boil your head? She signed a guitar. Posed with a gaunt, glistening Iggy. And exited stage left.

I could stab myself in the eyes for forgetting to set the DVR to record the show. I wanted to hear her acceptance speech. But I’m sure VH1 will rerun it ad nauseam.

To be inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame after releasing a dance album is a peculiar trick of American pop music. AfterEllen addressed the question today: Is Madonna, in fact, a rock’n’roller? The writer concluded, much as I do, that it doesn’t matter. It is her influence on everyone else and her status as an auteur that qualifies her. Can you imagine that? The woman who rolled around in a tarted-up wedding dress. Of course she should be inducted.

John Mellencamp was another highlight. His bit was after hers. I saw Mellencamp a few years ago in Minneapolis — a city in which Madonna never tours. Mellencamp strolled out on stage smoking a cigarette. He’s never been what I would call a good-looking man, but in those tight black jeans, those dulled and scuffed boots, that dangling, smoldering cigarette, that swagger of the hip, that slump of the shoulder, he is definitely what I would call sexy. He gave an authentic, simple, old-fashioned, unadorned rock ‘n’ roll performance that remains one of the single best shows I have ever seen.

At the ceremony, Billy Joel’s bizarre, crotchety I-don’t-give-a-fuck New Yorker introduction rambled and barely paid him any sort of tribute. It included a fair number of uninformed and disparaging remarks about farmers and Midwesterners — antithetical to the work Mellencamp was being honored for. He could have used the same speech to introduce Randy Newman; it was more about him, anyway. At least he got in some well deserved digs against VH1 and the music industry.

Mellencamp of course walked out on stage with a cigarette in his lips, stamping it out just before he took the mike. Thankfully he played his own set.


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the untallied hours

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