Madonna's new demo track and the case for aging gracefully
A demo version of Madonna's peppy new single, "Give Me All Your Love," leaked Tuesday on the Internet, prompting speculation about what her new album will be like, set for release in the spring.
The as-of-yet untitled album will be Madonna's first studio effort since 2008's "Hard Candy," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 280,000 copies in its first week, according to SoundScan. Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary, wrote on his Twitter account earlier today that the new album is not yet finished -- and the same obviously goes for "Give Me All Your Love."
Maybe there's still time then to steer the results (or at least to just rant and moan about what we've heard so far). Given the numbers for "Hard Candy," Madonna is still a chart force, but if this new song is any indication, she's skewing too young. Madge, at 53, her face increasingly nipped and tucked, seems to be struggling with getting older. And who can blame her? When you've generated your career from being young, sexy and crafting club singles that not only try to reflect what's current but also even hopefully cut a peephole for peering into the future, it's hard to constantly recalibrate yourself to a scene that's been racing along without you. And that's on top of the typical worries we all have about getting older.
There are many people who think Madonna should just stop making music and be content with her many other entrepreneurial and artistic projects -- film-directing, a "Material Girl" clothing line, a chain of gyms, being worshiped by "Glee," etc. -- but why should she? If Paul Simon can make a highly praised album at nearly 70 and Lou Reed a confusing mess of one at 69, why shouldn't a dance-pop queen be afforded the same opportunity at 53? Or is dance music somehow different, strictly the creative province of those still deferring their student loans? Does dance music not know how to grow up? If we want to count disco as the first American dance music genre, it's true that very few of its original artisans stuck with it past age 40, choosing instead to retreat to the more age-friendly strains of urban music such as R&B.
"Give Me All Your Love" isn't complete, so it's hard to say what may be added to give it more gravitas, but right now, with its cheerleader-style spelling chants, it sounds as sugary-lite as Avril Lavigne. It's not fresh so much as disposable. If the rumors are true, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are supposed to appear on "Give Me All Your Love," two excellent living-and-breathing reminders of Madonna herself, at the height of her powers, as a provocateur. But wouldn't it be great if the rest of the album were to reflect a more adult sensibility, maybe even the wisdom of experience?
Madonna can listen to what the kids are doing and pilfer some ideas, but she can also look back at her own work, such as the refined but still innovative "Ray of Light," released in 1998 when she was 39 and almost written off as a has-been. There's wisdom in being aware of what's around you, but there's also wisdom in listening to yourself.
-- Margaret Wappler
Photo: Madonna arrives for the BFI London Film Festival gala screening of 'W.E.' in October. Credit: Jonathan Short / Associated Press.