Posts Tagged ‘Madonna


Nothing addictive about MDNA

MDNA might stand for "most definitely not awesome."

Since my first listen on Monday, I have been dying to kvetch about Madonna’s new album MDNA. I’ve been listening all week, and I am having a hard time with it.

Don’t let the title or the parental warning label fool you. There is nothing subversive or edgy about this album.

The allusion to party drug MDMA made me hope this would at least be a solid dance album, a Confessions on the Dance Floor mark II.


I think of two things now when I listen to her new stuff:
1.) What would it be like recording this song? Would it be embarrassing to be in the studio? Before all the production, is the song just empty and meaningless and dumb?

2.) What would Kylie do? How would Kylie Minogue have done this song? Would she have done it?

For most of this album, Madonna fails or comes close to failing.

Continue reading ‘Nothing addictive about MDNA’


Madonna’s ‘Celebration’ (of abs)

Madonna released her newest video, for the title single from her forthcoming retrospective album Celebration, today for free on iTunes.

The song itself is kind of a yawn, even in this remixed form, but the video features several shirtless dancers whose perky nipples and ripped abs make it all so very worthwhile.

Par exemple:

Madonna - Celebration - 1

Madonna - Celebration - 2

Madonna - Celebration - 3

They must be so cold in the winter!


Anti-Materialism is a Girl’s Best Friend



One of Jeff’s hobbies, when he comes home from work, is pointing out all the news I missed that day, which usually is a lot. Actually, it’s not something he likes to do. He’s usually exasperated that I don’t know, he being a journalist, the news being his life. But I always feel like an uninformed idiot around him.

Sometimes he tries to trick me. “Oh, Madonna had a heart attack today!” he’ll say.

“No she didn’t,” I’ll calmly reply. “And the reason I know is that I did happen to read earlier that she and Guy are denying the divorce rumors. There was nothing about a heart attack.”

Sometimes it’s feasible, and he’ll get me.

“Another pope dead? Already?”

“Oh my god! How many planes can crash in one day?”

“Why would they put a military base so close to a dog pound?”

It makes me panic. Can I really know so little about the world?

Fifteen people were rescued from six years of captivity in Colombia yesterday. It’s a huge deal. One was a Colombian presidential candidate six years ago. Three are American. You can forgive me for not knowing the particulars; a lot of people have been kidnapped in Colombia. But their release is something I should have caught.

Of course, the ridiculousness that I knew more about Madonna’s marital status was not lost on me.

I used to be a news junkie. I listened to public radio all day long, and on weekends, like it was my job. (In fact public radio was my job at one time, but that’s not what I mean.) I would read a few stories on BBC News online every day. I was never much for daily newspapers, but I would read the Sunday New York Times every week.

Now I hardly ever listen to public radio. It’s too distracting at work, and I don’t like WNYC’s evening or weekend schedule (the good shows come on too early). So thank god for podcasts.

The Sunday Times still stacks up week after week. Sometimes I make a pretense of removing the blue plastic bag. But usually it just sits there, where I’ve kicked it out of the way the previous week.

I can’t say why I lost my enthusiasm, or how, or even when. But I wish I had it back.

One saving grace: I read The Economist now. The economic analysis is a bit over my head, but it’s great to get a non-American perspective on American politics. Its international news coverage is excellent and digestible. And sometimes my favorite stories are from its science and technology section. My favorite thing about The Economist is that it is clearly a magazine, but it refers to itself as a newspaper. Very cute.

On the way home from the subway last night, I saw a lot of men crowding around storefronts and bodegas and the front widows of bars. Each time I passed I could see they were staring up at a soccer game on TV. Don’t ask me who was playing, but I live in a very South American neighborhood, and soccer is a big deal here.

Many if not most of those men were Columbian. I wonder how many of them knew about the hostage news.


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.


Desperately Seeking a Tony

A musical-loving friend of mine informed me recently that a new musical drawing from Desperately Seeking Susan, with songs written by Debbie Harry, is making its world premiere on London’s West End this fall.

A musical version of Desperately Seeking Susan seemed like a terrible idea to me at first, but the more I think about it, the more it seems the ridiculous storyline — amnesia, mistaken identity, escape from suburbia, true love vs. love at first sight, magic shows, “dangerous” jewel thieves — is PERFECT for Broadway!

I have read that the show will feature classic Blondie songs, including “Heart of Glass,” “Atomic,” “One Way or Another, and “The Tide is High,” “brilliantly” woven into the story. The show will also feature the debut of a new song by Debbie Harry, “Moment of Truth.”

Too bad Madonna isn’t penning the songs, I say. But Debbie Harry’s catalog feels more ’80s these days to me anyway. Time sort of stood still for Debbie, whereas Madonna is far away beyond the ’80s.

Apart from an original score by Thomas Newman, who went on to do write such masterpieces as the theme from Six Feet Under, Desperately Seeking Susan featured one song: “Into the Groove” — which, tragically, won’t be included in this production! I wonder about these musicals being written from movies that had one song. Young Frankenstein, the musical version of which is to hit Broadway in the fall, had “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Is that enough to work from? Who knows… Mel Brooks’ The Producers made it big. Spamalot, based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which featured “Always Look on the Bright Side,” was a runaway success.

9 to 5, another one coming up, has … well … “9 to 5” — an absolutely brilliant Oscar-nominated song — to work from. At least Dolly Parton is writing all new material.

My friend and I agree that there have been too many musicals that aren’t using new songs and music. Or even worse, musicals that shoehorn pop songs into the drama (Mamma Mia!) — or yet worse: musicals like Movin’ Out that simply string songs together with Scotch tape and distraction in order to jerk the action forward and dull the audience into an undeserved standing ovation.

Desperately Seeking Susan made Madonna’s career. That is the only reason I am interested. And Debbie Harry is enjoying a resurgence in caché with her recent involvement in Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour. Let’s hope this one works out.


“If you wanna save the planet, let me see you jumping…”

My friends and I waited most of the afternoon yesterday to catch the Madonna concert on TV. Clever of her to conceal it in a worldwide series of concerts designed to raise awareness about — and presumably money to help combat — global warming.

We streamed it online live from London and displayed it on my friend’s wide screen TV. After some downloading and installing and rudimentary hacking, he got it set up just in time for the announcer to say, “Ladies and gentlemen… Madonna!”

She started with her new song, “Hey You,” which I’m not entirely sure I like a whole lot. But she was stunning and angelic in that simple black dress, her platinum-colored hair flowing in waves, her voice fine, soft and strong. With that children’s choir backing her up and the the arms of thousands swaying, it was a very Michael-Jackson-Heal-the-World moment. But better, because it was Madonna. Or maybe, to be more precise, because it was not Michael Jackson.

Then she sent the kids off and got down the business. She strapped on a guitar, took a wide stance, and called out to the cheering masses:
If you wanna save the planet, let me see you jumping up and down! Come on, motherfuckers!

Maybe not the message Al Gore had in mind, but it was easy advice for the obliging audience to follow. But who cares about messages? Madonna probably has one of the largest carbon footprints of the performers on the bill.

What was essentially the Confessions Tour version of “Ray of Light” was followed by the strangest version of “La Isla Bonita” I have ever witnessed in my life. The Romani Gypsies she called out to tear up the joint were totally weird and wild and crazy … and an absolutely perfect accompaniment to the song. My friends and I shot quizzical glances at each other at first, but then it suddenly seemed OK. Madonna wills it, and it is so.

She wrapped it up with “Hung Up,” just like her last tour. Countless performers and celebrities had taken that London stage throughout the day. They had all occupied the space and put in their time, and said kind and sometimes inspirational words and made pretty music. But when Madonna took that stage, she owned it. Duran Duran, Genesis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Keane, Back Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters — all an elaborate opening act for one person.

Madonna brought the party that closed that show. I don’t know if it did much to stop global warming, but it sent the spectators out of Wembley feeling pretty darn good. Maybe it’s just what they needed after a day full of bad news.


Madonna Gets It Right

Madonna is not much use to us as an actress in feature-length films, with some exceptions, but in short films, like this H&M commercial, she really shines as a comic performer. I don’t watch enough TV to see commercials, so I completely missed this one.


All around the nation. We’re the new sensation.

A good friend recently reminded me of a minor source of embarrassment for me. He posted a clip to my MySpace profile from a kids’ show from the ’80s (and, I was surprised to learn, ’90s) called Kids Incorporated.

It’s a rendition of “Over and Over” by Madonna. As it’s her birthday, I thought appropriate to re-post it here:

As I recall, every episode of that show was book-ended with musical numbers. How much you want to bet that “Over and Over” was the last scene of this particular one, and the girl singing it (Renee, I now know, following some Google research) had had some sort of crisis earlier in the show where she felt like a failure but her friends convinced her to keep trying until she succeeded? Those closing numbers were always thematically relevant and oh-so cathartic.

Some quick Googling reveals that the clip is from Season 2, episode 5: “The Big Lie,” in which, according to (turn down the volume before clicking!) “Renee’s rumor about Riley blows up into a big lie.”

Riley was the soda jerk, I am ashamed to remember, at the place where the little supa-stars performed. In fact, the place was called The Place, because the first A in “Palace” had burned out on the marquee. (Oh, no. It’s all coming back to me.)

So, not exactly as I thought, but evidently poor Renee had to talk herself out of the doldrums with an obscure Madonna B-side following her brush with Sunday afternoon immorality.

I’m embarrassed to remember how many episodes of that show I watched as a kid. Every Sunday. I’d stand my friends up in order to sit in front of the tube with this silly tripe. Even then I was kind of annoyed by the awful, watered-down, cleaned-up shadows of pop songs I actually liked. But it was infectious. And the show did give us Martika, so who can complain, right?

Incidentally, that show also gave us:
Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under)
Stacy Ferguson (Black Eyed Peas)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Party of Five)
Mario López (Saved by the Bell)
Scott Wolf (Party of Five)

Image hosting by Photobucket
Teenage dreamboat Ryan Lambert. The chicks on either side of him formed a girl group in the ’90s called Wild Orchid. The one on the right is the hot blonde from Black Eyed Peas
[Kids Inc Photo Home Page]

I had such a crush on the dark-haired white kid, Ryan. He was so cool, with his spiked hair and turned-up collar. I wanted to BE him. He was also in The Monster Squad, in which he was also heart-stoppingly cool. Remember him? I guess he’s the lead singer of a San Francisco band now called elephone. They just put out an album this summer. He’s not nearly as cute as he used to be.

The episodes where he sang were always my favorite. Back then I guess I thought it was envy. In retrospect, I can see it was young puppy-lust. Good lord. I was 9, 10, 11 and 12 during the years he was on that show. How did it take me so long to come out of the closet?


Madonna Paradox

I won’t call it hypocrisy. I’ll be generous and call it a paradox.

It almost qualifies as irony. But we English majors know better.

What I’m talking about is Madonna’s insistence that she not only monitors the TV intake of her kids (good idea in my opinion), but she also neither watches TV nor reads newspapers nor magazines herself. Ever.

She, our like great nation’s source of illumination, George W. Bush, is intentionally media deprived. She says sometimes she listens to the BBC with husband Guy. She hears about the news of the world from conversations with friends.

Madonna, the queen of mass media, star of magazine cover and MTV, chooses to disregard the news. Sure, she ignores press about herself. This is just and good and fair. Besides, how tedious, boring and infuriating, right? But she also ignores news about the world? She does TRL. She does The View. She does Good Housekeeping. She does Ladies’ friggin Home Journal. She depends on the media. She is the media.

Yet, she holds herself above the very media her career depends on.

Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Madge. But does this seem weird to anyone else?

the untallied hours