don't you tell me how i feel.

Unlucky star by Steele

When it comes to Madonna, my feelings are so conflicted. Pros: So much awesome music, and she’s played such a  significant role in pop culture. There are few women anywhere my age or thereabouts who haven’t worn out a copy of The Immaculate Collection (not to mention legions of men). Her bold messages of empowerment have laid the groundwork for so many singers.

And yet, I’ve always felt Madonna let me down at a crucial point: with her aggressive, obnoxious denial of the fact that she is growing older. OBVIOUSLY Madonna is always going to be vain – I get that she’s an ego monster for life – but all the cavorting around in her underwear…I don’t know, I guess I sound like a judgmental jerk, but I find it embarrassing. And as a chick who is starting to feel tremors of panic at the occasional gray hair and new wrinkle, I feel like Madonna missed an opportunity to set a better example.

Yes, I realize how idiotic it sounds that I expected this from Madonna, but hear me out. She got where she is by being a ruthlessly ambitious performer, by having a talent for surrounding herself with people who are tapped into the trends that are about to blow up, by reinventing herself in smart and strategic ways. In short, her looks have never accounted for all of her success. And now that she’s older, they account for even less. I mean, feel free to dance your heart out and show us you’ve still got it, M! Ultimately, you do still have it! But why do you have to prove it wearing less than what you wore in 1984?  Here’s my point, Madonna: No one thinks you’re “young and hot” anymore. No one expects you to be! You’re fucking 53 years old! You’re writhing and stripping in a hall of mirrors, and you are the only one glued to the reflection. For this and other reasons, I truly feel that it would suck to be her.

(Calms down)

Fortunately, neither her 0% fat body, her weird-ass facial procedures, her endless dance with vanity or even her faux-British accent matter to her fans. Her new album debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart in its first week, coasting a wave of buzz about this being her “divorce album.” And you know, I kind of really dig it! MDNA is fun, glittery, dark and at times uncomfortably personal. Religion is back as a recurring theme, which is the surest sign that all is not well in Madonnaland, and her voice actually sounds terrific.

“Girl Gone Wild” and “I’m A Sinner” are ready-made club hits, nothing profound but catchy as hell. Others, like “Turn Up The Radio” and “I’m Addicted,” are just boring. There are a couple of ballads which are fine. “Give Me All Your Luvin,'” which she debuted at the Super Bowl, is cute and bouncy, but if you’re going to bring in Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., why not let them do their thing for more than 20 seconds? Their tiny cameos just make Madonna look like she can’t share (spoiler alert: Madonna can’t share).

But let’s get to the good stuff, the angry shit. The 80s-infused “I Don’t Give A” has to be the most intimate song we’ve heard from her in a long time. It starts with “Wake up ex-wife/this is your life,” and climaxes with “I tried to be your wife/Diminished myself/And swallowed my light.” Stars: they’re just like anyone in an unhappy relationship! There’s also “Gang Bang,” the over-the-top industrial banger that evokes Tarantino’s Kill Bill, in which M fantasizes about shooting her lover in the head over and over again. “Drive, bitch!” she orders, and a million dancefloors swoon.

“Beautiful Killer” has an erotic undertone to its new-wave beat, almost like the sound of soon-to-be exes in the throes of a hot hookup. And I really like the cool sadness of “Love Spent,” which spirals beautifully into a disco-electronica paradise. “I want you to hold me like you hold your money,” Madonna implores Guy Richie, we can infer. “Hold me in your arms until there’s nothing left.”

I don’t know, guys. I’ve got to hand it to this broad. As annoying as she surely must be, she delivered a solid dance/pop record at a time when no one expected her to. What a Madonna thing to do.


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