Originally Published in The Badger Herald, February 8, 2012
Tis’ the season for borrowing and marketing. Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone) has made a fresh splash in the pop music scene with the recent release of “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” This track is the first single from her upcoming album MDNA – due for release on March 26th.
The escapades of the track’s music video, in addition to Sunday’s fantastical halftime performance at the Super Bowl, mark a shift in Madonna’s nearly 30-year career. Two things stand out. Both in the music video and Bowl performance, she borrows heavily from other musicians, musically and visually. Madonna has also adopted a distinct business model: she is following trends instead of trying to create them. Her levity and cheerleader girlishness are targeting pop music’s newest audience, the post-Millennial iGeneration.
Madonna performed a montage of her greatest hits at the Super Bowl, including “Vogue,” “Music,” and her new single.
©2012 NBC Universal Media, LLC
In her latest video, Madonna’s makeup and silhouette are disturbingly cute. The resemblance to Australian-superstar Kylie Minogue is unmistakable. But Madonna is smart. She takes models of what previously worked for singers and assembles a collage, confident that it will lead her to success. Sure, the graceful fall into the football boys’ fondling hands borrows from Minogue’s “All the Lovers.” And the Super Bowl’s ancient Roman theme obviously hijacked the Greek-inspired set of Minogue’s latest tour. But that was almost two years ago, and besides, it’s fun! Since when has Madonna just been fun?
Lately, Madonna seems to have acquired a reputation as a shriveled, Gaga-bashing prune. These two performances could signal a change. At the very least, they reflect Madonna’s adoption of a different strategy in self-promotion. Building upon her long-noticed ability to reinvent herself, Madonna has taken an unpredicted path, choosing to substitute pompoms and good-cheer for her trademark bitchiness. Compared to Feminist Madonna — sex-kitten as well as anti-war activist — this spunky, blond Bree Van de Kamp is unrecognizable. Therein lies Madonna’s chameleon talent.
“Give Me All Your Love” is a song about, essentially, nothing.
©2012 Boy Toy, Inc.
“Give Me All Your Love” is a song about, essentially, nothing. The superficiality of the song and its tedious repetitiveness are intoxicating. So whistle-able, too! The track combines hip hop, bubblegum giggles, and dubstep into a wad of musical collaboration. Both Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam) sing alongside Madonna. But they effectively add nothing even through they try really hard — well, hard when Minaj bugs out her eyeballs as she sings, but not so hard when Arulpragasam fakes enthusiasm.
No, Minaj and Arulpragasam are Madonna’s props, designed for nothing else besides selling records and ad-space. Let’s face it, Madonna is a brand and those two performers each need one. Their presence adds legitimacy to Madonna’s vision, which is a vision in which she can relive the high points of her career and usher in a new generation into the immateriality of her image. Madonna repackages her “Blond Ambition” past, straight from the archives (mole and all). By doing so, she reminds us that we once adored her. And, don’t forget, it’s fun!
Madonna “Express[es] Herself” during her nation-hopping 1990 “Blond Ambition Tour” – arguably one of the most successful and memorable of the diva’s thirty years in the business.
©1991 Boy Toy, Inc., Propaganda Films.
But Madonna’s Super Bowl “Party Rock”-ing could signal another possibility, more disturbing than the conniving first. She may smile because she enjoys herself. Seeing Madonna so happy — so family-friendly — feels … well, creepy. Does this reaction come from disgust over her vain attempt at sexual rejuvenation? Or is it discomfort in seeing a fifty-something having silly fun in public?
You only live once. Despite some criticism, Madonna appears to be embodying that cliché. While some are unable to see beyond the wrinkles, for us children of the 1980s Madonna is the desk reference for sex, fashion and manipulation. Madonna has accompanied us as we’ve grown. She shared — and helped create — our history. She stays in the spotlight, if not for us, then at least for exhibitionist kicks. Her queenly entrance at halftime was a given.
But that god-awful hairstyle has got to go.