Madonna, the reigning queen of pop, is back in the spotlight in a big way. With her new movie W.E., her superbowl halftime show, her press tour and her new album, she seems to be everywhere. Friday saw the release of her new video for her single ‘Give Me All Your Luvin,’ (click to watch) featuring Nicki Minaj and MIA.
Just like she did when Britney was exploding, Madonna is back to show Gaga how it’s done. Or is she? Let’s discuss.
The video, directed by MegaForce, is a direct tie in to her highly anticipated SuperBowl performance. The song itself is catchy, but vacuous, and the video does a good job of matching that by being cute, but boring.
The video begins with Madonna walking down the a street while football players make way for her (acting like a human shield while someone tries to shoot her down – was that Elton John I spied?). Also on the scene: faceless cheerleaders who cheer her on. I am not sure why they have to be faceless since that makes them more of a distraction than anything else (Editor’s note: maybe this is commentary on Gwen Stephani’s obsession with harajuku girls?)
Madge then climbs a mountain of football players to enter a door where she morphs into old school Madonna (thank god for post production and soft focus) and we get a brief product placement add for Schmirnoff Vodka. Alongside her are Nicki Minaj and MIA, which of course is a wink and nod to her MTV performance with Britney and Christina back in the day (they even going so far as to include a girl-on-girl kiss, provided by two of the creepy faceless cheerleaders). But the whole thing just feels like a Britney video: fake sets, the somewhat playful nature of it’s star, and the lack of good choreography, all the way down to the lazy product placement. It’s more of a commercial for her halftime show than a new video from the woman who made ‘Ray of Light’ and ‘Express Yourself.’
Let’s discuss Nicki Minaj and MIA, two stars in their own right, for a moment. Ignoring the fact that they’re only there to lend Madonna street credit, the problem with pairing these two in a single video is that they give off very different energies. Minaj is hyper-frenetic while MIA tends to be more lackadaisical. Together, they are as odd a pairing as James Franco and Ann Hathaway. The first time I watched the video I couldn’t get over how bored MIA looks. It’s like she can’t believe they put her in a cheerleading outfit and forced her to cheer for Madonna. In contrast, Nicki Minaj seems over-enthusiastic, perhaps trying to compensate for the dead horse next to her. Nicki Minaj is a welcome jolt while MIA just seems to slow things down.
As for the material girl herself, she definitely phones this one in. Her delivery in the song – as well as the video – is bland at best. In a recent interview on the Graham Norton Show, when asked why she felt the need to make new music, she replied that after two years spent making a movie she needed something to pay the rent (!). Whether this was a joke or not, that is exactly what this song and video feel like. This is not the Madonna from ‘Like a Prayer,’ or ‘Frozen,’ or even ‘Hung Up.’ She’s simply going through the motions during the whole thing. (Perhaps taking another cue from Britney, who has been going through the motions since 2006).
Now I have been a huge fan of Madonna since the beginning. I still remember dancing with my sisters to the ‘Like a Virgin’ LP in our living room, and desperately wanting to be a material girl. I remember watching Truth or Dare and dreaming that one day I would go on tour as one of her dancers (That dream is still alive BTW). With every new incarnation, I was there with her. Even through her “sex” phase when I didn’t really understand most of what she was doing, I was there. But with her last album and this new single, I find myself feeling disappointed with her output. Mostly because it feels inauthentic.
The production value of her new work is always outstanding, but her delivery in her songs feel, at best, robotic and lazy. Much like Britney, the fire seems to have gone out. There has been a lot of talk about Gaga ripping off Madonna (even Madonna has commented on this), going so far as saying that ‘Born This Way’ was a clear homage to ‘Express Yourself.’ This feels reductive. While Gaga might be ripping off Madonna, at least she is coming out full force and giving us something more exciting than this half baked video.
I have room in my heart for Gaga and Madonna, but if this is reflective of the quality that Madonna will be giving us with MDNA, I’ll be putting my paws up and marrying the night for the foreseeable future.