Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Music Video: “Hung Up,” Madonna

I never gave much thought to Madonna as entertainer or cultural force, pace Camille Paglia and the Reservoir Dogs. I stole my standard line on her from writer and critic Clive James, who said that she sings better than she acts, she dances better than she sings, and we all know somebody who dances better.

Her shenanigans the last few years have only made it tougher: touting kabbalah, kissing Britney Spears, rapping about soy lattes. Lately she’s been coming on like everyone’s crazy aunt Madge, who still hasn’t learned to dress age-appropriately.

Then I saw her latest video, available here and here. Now I’m ready to become an icon member of her fan club.

There’s the song, which is so infectious that the CDC should be notified. Then there’s Madonna, looking spectacular. Part of the credit has to go to yoga, but she’s also smiling here. I’m not sure if I’ve seen that before.

Finally there’s the video itself, directed by Johan Renck. It’s charged with a raucous energy, at times playing like the Luc Besson version of YOU GOT SERVED. It even has parkour in it.

There’s only one word to describe the ending, with its tribe of Madonna-led dancers busting old-school moves in a video arcade: joyous. I’ve watched this video over and over in the last 24 hours, because it makes me feel like a million bucks.

Music: “My Humps,” Black Eyed Peas

Conversely, I hate this song, currently the top download on iTunes. It’s the one in which singer Fergie offers a paean to “my hump, my hump, my hump/my lovely lady lumps.” Her boasts prompt witty rejoinders from her bandmates, like “Whatcha gonna do with all that breasts, all that breast inside that shirt?” It makes Kelis’ “Milkshake” seem like the essence of sophistication. At least that bit of pop ephemera was built around a metaphor, even a thuddingly obvious one.

I don’t mean to give the Steve Allen treatment to a stupid dance record. But whenever I hear this song – every twelve minutes – all I can think of is that criticism leveled at Spinal Tap. The Peas are “treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.” Only, you know, without the poetry.

Miscellaneous: Link

Two of my favorite authors, Terrill Lee Lankford and Reed Farrel Coleman, are featured in the Wall Street Journal’s clear-eyed look at the harsh realities of the publishing business. Read it while the WSJ is free for the day.