Earlier this week I saw a paparazzi photograph of Madonna that was captioned "Madonna with Jesus at the airport in Zaragoza" and though to myself "You cannot make this shit up." Aside from posts about her Cryptkeeper arms, the blog/Twitter world is whipping itself into a particular frenzy over her upcoming single, Celebration. The track looks like a terrible idea on paper until you hear it via a shitty cell phone rip played in Ibiza and have a near-mental breakdown thinking you cannot leave your house until this song leaks. Or maybe normal people do not react this way?
New York Magazine's Emily Nussbaum just published one of the most spot-on pieces on Madonna that I've read in years. It's something many fans hovering around 40 will relate to. She really nails it in numerous key points:
Over the years, this vision of discipline as transcendence crackled, hardened, becoming at once awesome and alienating, creating a riddle for fans: How to reconcile that early Madonna with what she’d become?
I try to persuade myself to admire her most New York qualities (ambition, workaholism); I tell myself she’s a dancer, and this is what dancers do. But I feel exhausted just witnessing the effort it must take to maintain this vision of eternal youth. This didactically selfless Madonna is less inspiring than the selfish one in so many ways.There's the brilliant listing of Madonna's phases:
It goes on, but she hilariously nailed my favorite: the Ideal Brunette Madonna saving Black Jesus in that incredible slip. You know, when she sees the guys attacking the girl and juts out her jaw at them in defiance? With her awesome hair flying around? (watch for that bit from 2:29-2:50).
Jellybean Benitez Madonna to Madonna of the Boy Toy Belt, Unshaved Leaked Photos Madonna, Madonna masturbating on a wedding cake, bouncing beside the waves in “Cherish,” dancing with the little boy in “Open Your Heart,” Who’s That Girl Eyebrows Madonna, Ideal Brunette Madonna (my favorite) saving Black Jesus in that incredible slip, Banned by the Pope! Madonna, “Vogue” Madonna, Fritz Lang Madonna, Wrapped-Plastic Sex-Book Madonna, Shame-Free BDSM Madonna, Sandra Bernhard–BFF Madonna..
But finally, it must come back to her music. Nussbaum quotes writer Rob Sheffield on her lasting legacy:
As for Kabbalah, he points out, “You know, if she made bad records about being spiritually awakened, that’s one thing—but she made a really good one, the Ray of Light album.”It's easy (and knee-jerk) to write her off after last year's weakish, irritating Hard Candy, but Celebration sounds like another milestone in a career that is unparalleled in pop music. One epic after another. If a Hits record closes a chapter, where does this story go next?
Be sure to read Justify My Love by Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine, July 26, 2009