Last weekend Mark Kamins died of a heart attack at age 57. The legendary DJ and producer—who worked with David Byrne, the Beastie Boys and Sinéad O'Connor—was best known for producing Madonna's first single, 1982's "Everybody," and helping sign her to Seymour Stein's Sire Records. Around that same time, Kamins produced another popular single, the dance-rap track "Jam Hot" by Johnny Dynell. (The song was featured in the iconic 1983 graffiti documentary Style Wars, and its lyrics—"Tank Fly Boss Walk Jam Nitty Gritty/You're listening to the boy from the big bad city"—were sampled in the #1 U.K. single "Dub Be Good To Me" by Beats International, the 1990s [...]
This new Madonna video, in which M.I.A. appears (and doesn't do much, along with Nicki Minaj), is not as good as M.I.A.'s new video, "Bad Girls." Considering this, and also the great video Jay-Z and Kanye West made for their song "Otis" last summer, it seems that the Bay Area hip-hop subculture known as "hyphy," which peaked four or five years ago, is having its most lasting cultural impact in the phenomena of the dangerous-looking car tricks known as "ghost riding."
"Happy 53rd Birthday, Prince Rogers Nelson. You are definitely one of the world’s 'Favorite Blacks.' We know this not because of all the joy your music has brought your millions of fans. But because in 1985 you and your band, the Revolution, were presented the honor 'Favorite Black Album' at the American Music Awards (by Huey Lewis and Madonna, no less). The irony of this is that you didn’t even win that award for your raw-as-hell The Black Album (which didn’t come out till a few years later and scared all your pop fans who never heard Dirty Mind; we had to buy that shit on a bootleg cassette behind [...]
Camille Paglia's attack on Lady Gaga in the Sunday Times begins with an attempted burnishing of her own rusted credentials: "Camille Paglia, America's foremost cultural critic, demolishes an icon." Who on earth-or at least who in America-would describe Paglia that way? Nobody! The introduction only underscores the irrelevance it was meant to forestall.
Today the ultrasmooth R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo released his new single "Beautiful Monster," and it's pretty good — produced by his longtime collaborators Stargate, it's reminiscent of his earlier hit "Closer," only with icier keyboards and a more paranoid outlook. But of course one commenter had to opine that the song was "very Lady Gaga," presumably because it is an uptempo track that uses synthesizers and has the word "monster" in its title. This stray comment from someone named "rambo244" would be funny if this "Gaga already did it"-ism didn't seem to happen with recent output by 99% of pop stars; it would be even funnier if Stefani Germanotta, [...]
"Just look at these young people. They are burning up with passion. They have such a lust for life, and yet they are so inhibited. People in the Middle East are poets, writing poetry from morning to night, and what do they write poetry about? About desire. The little boy in the street does it, and so do the construction worker and the academic. They are all writing poetry about the same subject, the subject that is suppressed more than anything else." Der Spiegel has a fascinating interview with German-Turkish writer Seyran Ates, who apparently listens to Madonna and Iggy Pop (maybe she was at last [...]
This self-tribute is so awkwardly put together, though, that it comes off like a celebrity shouting to someone who doesn't recognize her, "Do you know who I am?" What is mildly shocking about it, though, is how hamfisted "MDNA" sounds at times. There are audible clashes between various pieces of the mix that just sound bad; Madonna's rapping on "I Don't Give A," for example, sounds like a "Saturday Night Live" parody of a Madonna rap song until Nicki Minaj comes in…. "Superstar" is a plainspoken love song with an instantly memorable melody, but something about its production brings to mind the Education Connection commercials with the rapping [...]
Rumors have circulated that Madonna, recording artist, will sing with M.I.A. at the Super Bowl. Nicki Minaj is also implicated. Both artists have had success, but can either bring back the monoculture? Leaving the fleeting sensation of a Lynn Hirschberg truffle-fry ambush aside, if M.I.A. were interviewed by Barbara Walters, who would care? Neither M.I.A., a self-consciously “edgy” singer of extraordinary gifts of curation, nor Nicki Minaj, a self-consciously outré rapper of extraordinary gifts full-stop, have cultivated personae beyond “hardworking,” “talented,” and (in M.I.A.’s case) “prone to ignorable political pronouncements.” It’ll be a good show, but no one should expect an iconic moment on par with Madonna heaving in a [...]
Whatever the crimes committed by Wallis Simpson – marrying a king, sparking a constitutional crisis, fraternising with Nazis – it's doubtful that she deserves the treatment meted out to her in W.E., Madonna's jaw-dropping take on "the 20th-century's greatest royal love story." The woman is defiled, humiliated, made to look like a joke. The fact that W.E. comes couched in the guise of a fawning, servile snow-job only makes the punishment feel all the more cruel.
Or could it be that Madonna is in deadly earnest here? If so, her film is more risible than we had any right to expect.
Madonna's done a lot in this world but one of the most radical changes she's made is to the character of her former husband: she “keeps a kosher home, she observes Shabbat, she circumcised her son and had her [ex-] husband circumcised," reports one of her sort of spiritual advisers. That is one of those things that, after a divorce, you probably look back upon with a wide range of emotions.
This is, to put it very plainly, a huge gay catastrophe! The tween clothing line that Madonna and her daughter Lola are doing for Macy's is getting pimped to high heaven, because it hits stores soon, and the latest bit of marketing is… a blog post. Written by Lola herself-a "From The iDesk of Lola" kind of thing, to rile up the tweens. It's sort of heartbreaking, actually. Beginning, as it does, "Helluuur thurrrr, I'm Lola and this is my first blog entry so it's kind of like ummmm….."
Madonna has contributed an opinion piece to Israel's largest newspaper on the subject of magical realism in the work of novelist David Grossman. Nah, just kidding, it's totally about Kaballah! She's a fan.
Natasha: Okay, what did you think of Techno Roman Madonna and her 13th legion last night?
Julie: Well, to me, Madonna is like the Catholic Church or Penn State. I’ll defend anything she does, even when she's guilty. I’m loyal to the institution.
Natasha: What did you think of her football fruits?
Julie: I thought they were great.
Natasha: DON'T LIE!!
Julie: I thought she should have worn different shoes.
Natasha: This is like when the Catholic Church or Penn State blamed a sex abuse scandal on a couple bad apples!
Julie: The medley was tight, the concepts were good, it looked great and I'd say she sounded [...]
Anthony Ciccone (not to be confused with the, uh… (*puts one finger aside nose*) other one) is the tabloid tale of the weekend, being 1. Madonna's other brother (not the gay one who sold her out with that trashy memoir) and 2. homeless.
Anyway, it all sounds better in German: "Madonnas großer Bruder bettelt auf der Straße"! Or Italian: "Madonna lascia il fratello Anthony a vivere per strada"! Even French: "Le frère aîné de Madonna vit dans la rue." Oooh, la rue. But the original story is actually pretty great, with this headline: "Traverse City becomes magnet for the homeless: Madonna’s brother [...]
It was 17 years ago this week that Madonna's "I'll Remember [Theme from With Honors]" dropped out of the top 50 of the Billboard Adult Contemporary singles chart*, and I worry about its legacy. I know not every piece of art lasts forever, and that even the most deserving works of culture are occasionally forgotten or overlooked in our relentless obsession to discover the new, but it would be a real shame if this timeless gem fell into obscurity.
The sunny, retro stylings of critical darlings Best Coast have not totally grabbed me yet. Not that I particularly dislike them, but, for instance, I would enjoy this song more if it were a cover of Madonna's greatest ballad. But, interestingly, they're premiering their new video on the LOLcats mothership, I Can Haz Cheezburger (which yes, just raised $30 million). Here's the Madonna video.
Just kidding! Here's the real video with Larry King.
Perhaps emboldened by the Internet's more lax standards regarding swearing and simulated sex, the blustery songbird Christina Aguilera has returned to her hypersexualized "Dirrty" mode with the Hype Williams-directed video for her stridently club-ready comeback effort "Not Myself Tonight." There is lapdancing, orgiastic throbbing that would make Paula Abdul blush, unbleeped usage of the word "fuck," and clear homages to at least three videos from the past: Madonna's "Express Yourself" (which was itself inspired by Metropolis); Madge's stark episode of Kinky Hollywood Squares "Human Nature"; and George Michael's "Freedom 90". These throwbacky reference points would seem odd for a record that has been hyped to [...]