Monday, April 14, 2008

No. 452: Music

Band: Madonna
Album: Music
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: People love this record and it does have tons of vocoder. There are a couple of good songs on the record.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: With another late-career Madonna record, I think RS is simply trying to boost more classic boomer situations.
Best song: "Don't Tell Me" is cool.
Worst song: I don't care for the title track.
Is it awesome?: No.

I went to university in Columbia, Missouri. As with many land grant Midwestern college towns, Columbia is not, uh, Paris. There's a lot to like about Columbia -- the downtown is great, the Midwestern sensibility is real, the clubs are cool, the college radio station is fantastic, etc. -- but it's not a huge city. So... There are two strip clubs in Columbia.

(A quick aside... I've been to two strip clubs in my life: One in Chicago and the one I'm about to describe, in Columbia. I did not enjoy either trip. I enjoy naked women as much as the next guy, but I am wildly uncomfortably being aroused around anyone in whom I have no romantic interest. Maybe I'm a prude, but I just equate arousal with intimacy.)

I've only been to one of the strip clubs in Columbia, Club Vogue. Vogue is the nicer of the two strip clubs. As Columbia isn't Paris, Vogue is not the Moulin Rouge. It's kind of dark and dingy. The women have stretch marks and bad tattoos. They wear clown-ish eyeliner and have had bleach jobs.

(This brings up the question of what Regina's, the lesser of the Columbia strip clubs, is like. I've heard it's just dirt bag filthy, though I'm very glad I've never been there.)

With all that said, the last 20 years have seen strip clubs being sort of glorified even with women. This came to a head in 2000 with Madonna's "Music" video. Featuring Sacha Baron Cohen, the video has Madonna going to a well-lit, quasi-glamorous strip club with a large runway-style stage. She's got on a silly outfit (more on that in a minute) and a "Sex in the City" group of friends. It looks, I imagine, somewhat attractive.

I had a female friend in college who tried -- kinda -- to emulate this video. She and her best friend headed down to Vogue -- the club welcomes women and, if she is willing, will try to get them on the stage -- and wanted to see what it was like. They barely got in the door before they saw Vogue's nastiness. They headed out and never looked back.

The point? Strip clubs are gross.


I think part of the draw in being a female pop singer is that you can spend about 90% of your time playing dress up. Madonna has little to no acting skill, but she's spend the last 30 years playing different characters in various outfits. Just in the past 10 years, Madonna has dressed up -- in videos, at least -- as a gothic priestess ("Frozen"), a strip club patron ("Music"), an aerobics person with some nasty camel toe ("Hung Up") and a cowboy ("Don't Tell Me").

I can see why that's attractive.


"Music" is not a fantastic record. It's largely a disco record with a couple of decent tracks. The title track is stuttering and crappy, though it has a decent vocoder. "What It Feels Like for a Girl" is decent. "Don't Tell Me" is very good, though largely because of its production.

Late-career Madonna pales in comparison to early Madonna, basically. She's doing similar things -- mindless pop music -- but she's not doing great stuff anymore.

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