Madonna’s roll-out for her new album, Madame X, has not been without controversy but not the usual brand. Faced with a relentless barrage of ageist condescension for daring to turn 60, much less continue to make music, Madonna has unsurprisingly struggled to connect with any of her new singles. So, it’s not without a pinch of cynicism that she has released an elaborate storyline video for her latest single, “God Control,” protesting gun violence. Piggybacking woke activism is not exactly a tactic without questionable baggage. Is Madonna genuinely concerned about mass shootings in America? Is she exploiting the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub for her own promotional gain? Probably a little from Column A and a little from Column B. But the gratuitousness of her “message” can’t help but be met with a raised eyebrow. The video itself is beautifully filmed by Jonas Akerlund, and the song is kind of a Daft Punk-ian banger, mixing vocoder disco with impressively catchy faux symphonic strings. The rapping breakaways, however, are undeniably cringeworthy.
A lot of people hatin’ on that Superbowl performance. Yeah, she was clearly miming, but I thought she was more entertaining than any performer for the past ten years save Prince. And I think her new single is beyond catchy.
It’s not that I don’t get Bruce Springsteen; I do. It’s just that his schtick doesn’t appeal to me in the least. I was a kid when he took over the charts with Born in the USA, so he was just another superstar next to Michael Jackson and Madonna and Prince, though I didn’t understand why. I preferred the latter three, i.e. the weirder ones- the ones who made pop music into spectacular fantasies. Music is escapism; it just depends on what you want to escape to or from. Springsteen represented construction workers and the color brown to me. As a kid, New Jersey held no appeal. And as an adult, still none. Working class values certainly didn’t have any bearing on my 10 year-old lifestyle and worldview. So, I only assumed to appreciate Bruce Springsteen one had to either be old or destitute. Now that I’m of an age where Springsteen’s message might matter, I still don’t care. I don’t look to music to make myself feel better. And Springsteen’s music is just too earnest and “everyman”-ish. That semi-embarrassing spectacle at half time last night didn’t help matters, either. I know Springsteen is not exactly in his prime, so his twilight in music might as well be big, corporate-sponsored, beer-guzzling, nostalgic parties for people who wish they didn’t work in factories. Bring back Prince. He tore that shit up.