Thursday, March 13, 2008

Viva La Madonna...

Oh, Madonna. You spoil me!!

I can’t believe the release of her new album is so close… April 29th to be exact… also, my birthday… Happy Birthday, Reeva Dubois… best present EVER!!!

I’m still not over the brilliance of her latest album. Have I mentioned before that I listened to Confessions on a Dancefloor on repeat for almost three months straight? Of course I have. I’m not one to venture clumsily into the dizzy realms of hyperbole, but hear me when I say, “That album changed my life, and I’m grateful I was alive and kicking to experience it.” I’ve always been a little extreme when it comes to Madonna.

So, this new album…

We all know Madonna has to “re-invent” herself for every album, and one would think that after “re-inventing” herself so many times, she would run out personas. Sure, some of the costume changes in her career have been more successful than others, but she always manages to be new, different, and provocative. She also has the kind of super-loyal fanbase (I’m on the mailing list) that eats up everything she does with a spoon and begs for more, which means she can take whatever risks she wants. This loyal fanbase also has the tendency to love her even more when she’s being attacked by the critics or the musical snobs that run most of the music magazines these days; the more the “experts” put her down, the more militant the superfans become, so really, they’re just doing her all sorts of favors.

Basically, there are no rules for Madonna anymore… at least, as far as I’m concerned.

All that said, this new album… has me worried. When Madonna reinvents herself, she doesn’t just change her clothes. Every album has a different look, sound, and thematic underpinning. People argue about whether or not she’s a legitimate artist, but I promise you, these albums, at least, are ART. Everything is intentional, carefully conceived, meticulously produced, and masterfully executed, and Madonna always has the controls. I wonder sometimes if people write these albums off simply because it’s dance music. Well, so is half the stuff Mozart wrote. Chew on that for a minute.

When I heard the news of an impending Madonna record, the first thing I thought was… who’s she going to be this time? What trend of culture, religion, politics, whatever, is she going to strap onto her back and carry around? As the release approached, the media (and incredibly resourceful bloggers) and the Madonna PR machine slowly began leaking tidbits of news and audio samples, which always happens and should be taken with a grain of salt. We heard that Madonna enlisted the likes of Timbaland (who’s, like, unstoppable these days, apparently), Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams to collaborate on the new material. To me, that translated as: Madonna is going to release a record that sounds like everything else coming out right now. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased. Don’t get me wrong – I love Justin Timberlake, and I haven’t hated a Timbaland track yet, but… Madonna is supposed to be daring and original in everything she does. I’m afraid this so called collaborating will diffuse her. And worse, I think she could be straying dangerously close to – God help us – selling out. Timbaland and Justin have sort of revolutionized the pop universe with their strange brew of rap/R&B/boy band/bubblegum/hip-hop, and both have proven themselves to be two of only a handful of artists that are selling records these days, so I suppose Madonna must know what she’s doing. But I still don’t know how I feel about Madonna trying to sound like that. I hope she isn’t confusing relevance with imitation, because they are two entirely different concepts.

I guess the worst part of all of this is: if Madonna feels the need to attach herself to the most profitable artists working today in order to make an album, does that mean she has lost confidence in her own voice? Is this album the end of her ground-breaking streak? Will she just be another clone making the rounds on the airwaves trying to make a buck in an industry that is decidedly moribund?

The good news is: I’ve heard the first single off the album and I don’t hate it. It's called 4 Minutes, co-starring the Timberlake. I thought about trying to link to it here on this blog, but it isn’t official yet, so anything I try to link to will be taken down in the next hour. If you wanna hear it, just google it or whatever. Anyway, I don’t hate it. Justin is singing with her, which… sad face, and I can definitely hear Timbaland’s influence, but it doesn’t strike me as entirely outside of Madonna’s aesthetic.

Please don’t disappoint me, Madonna. Don’t make it even harder to defend your honor!!

The new album is called Hard Candy and it drops 4/29/08... and just for fun...

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