Today we're going to talk about something very important. We're going to talk about Madonna.
"Madge," as she's affectionately known around the gay scene, has been making music for over thirty years. I grew up with her songs, many of them pop classics. In recent years, it can be arguably said that her popularity has waned a bit. During the past decade, Madonna has put out seventeen singles. Of those, three have charted in the US Top 40. Ten Failed to chart at all on the Billboard Hot 100.
We now have at least one possibility offered as to why Madge's chart power is waning: Ageism. At least, that's what Diplo (just, Diplo), a producer of some of the tracks off her latest album, thinks. I know it's difficult to be objective about something you've worked on -- whether you were the producer or the artist -- but, as a listener/fan, I have to say that Madonna's most recent work has simply not been that good. Still, we'll hear what Diplo has to say:
I've got be honest: Folks may be focusing on Madonna's age, but that's because she makes it such a big issue. Turning 57-years-old next month, Madge is constantly reminding us who she is and that she ain't takin' no shit from anyone. It comes across as desperate. When she became defensive about Lady Gaga grabbing some attention, that was a clear sign that Madonna wasn't ready to let go of the spotlight she'd enjoyed for so many years (and that had already begun to wander away from her).
Truthfully, Madonna's never been the most emotionally-developed of personalities, but that was part of her charm. Then came her Ray of Light album in 1998. It remains my favorite release of hers, and I listened to it constantly for something like six months straight. It had a more adult sound, though I winced a bit whenever she did interviews for the album, as she kept talking about how much she'd matured over the years, and how she was reveling in her new-found maturity.
Hint/warning: Mature people don't talk about how mature they are.
Sure enough, two years after Ray of Light, Madge was back with Music, an album with some funky tracks produced by a plethora of dance artists, with the video for the lead single featuring her and some friends at a strip club. Her albums since then have been hit or miss. I've preferred the quieter songs from those releases, with the favorite being Falling Free from her 2012 banger MDNA.
The most recent single from this year's album, Rebel Heart, is Bitch I'm Madonna, and it has thus far peaked at #84 on the US chart. I actually kinda dig the track, but only for its musical landscape. The lyrics are fairly craptastic, what with lines such as "I'm Madonna, these hoes know" not really conveying any form of subtlety. And there's the rub: Madonna isn't floundering because of her age. She's floundering because she makes such a desperate attempt to remind us of her age and then tells us -- profanely -- it's not a big deal and we'd all better bow down.
Sorry, Madge. Just relax, do your thing, and don't try so hard. Maybe that's the answer.