The cover art for Madonna‘s new single “Girl Gone Wild” shows the material mum busting out of a barely-there bra, dancing amidst a colorful pallet of euphoric pinks and purples like an uninhibited NYC club queen losing herself in Studio 54; the title font is white and ropey, smeared across Madge’s stomach like a sticky load of semen from the body of a chiseled toy boy. But, for a cover that’s so incredibly suggestive, you couldn’t possibly find a song more sterile than “Girl Gone Wild”.
Over a fairly standard Benny Benassi beat, a monotone Madonna unconvincingly sings about picking up and getting down on the dance floor. Her delivery is how I imagine she mumbled the lyrics to herself when Benassi first sent the demo over — Madge sitting up in her bed, her thick-rimmed glasses resting on her nose as a frustrated Lola shows her mother how to access her e-mails on an iPad.
Two years ago, Benassi produced a couple of songs for Kelis, who at the time was making the transition from alt-urban songstress to edgy dance diva. One of those songs was “Brave”, which, despite the similarities in the production, couldn’t possibly be any more different to “Girl Gone Wild”. Over jagged electro-house, Kelis sung an ode to motherhood and her tumultuous youth, detailing the transition from a misguided twenty-something into a self-assured woman entering her thirties. On the other hand, Madonna’s used the same beat –which now no longer sounds even remotely cutting-edge– and sung about grinding up on a guy in the club with about as much passion as a Stepford wife returning a library book.
Perhaps it’s lyrically appropriate for Madge. After all, she is a recently-divorced MILF who’s spent the past year getting hot and heavy with barely-legal male models, so there’s no reason that she shouldn’t be able to sing about it, but it’s the delivery where she falls short. Even Britney at her most robotic still has an artificial sexuality to her voice and an edge to her production that’s helped make her recent batch of auto-pilot hits sound fabulous, but at the rate that Madonna’s going at right now, MDNA is shaping up to be Femme Fatale without any of the good music.
“Girl Gone Wild” isn’t a complete waste, though. It’s enjoyable enough in a fairly blank, uninteresting way, and it’ll fit in nicely on gym playlists or on high volume at the gay bar. But as for finding its way onto my iPod — nah, I think I”ll just stick with Britney.