fiscal year, another thoroughly shite Madonna single. And another
epidemic of Empress's New Clothes Syndrome. Well, they do say that
if you owe a bank £10, it's your problem, but if you owe it
£10,000, it's theirs.
plain fact is that so many allegedly smart Brits have poured such
copious quantities of syrupy approval on the works, personality and
all-round wunnerfulness of one Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Ritchie
- who's been out-and-out crap for at least one and a half of the two
decades she has been successfully stalking us, the innocent people
of Planet Pop - that to withdraw it suddenly would leave their whole,
like, aesthetic value system in smithereens.
to gird one's loins, paste on a grin and maintain, through gritted
teeth, that American Life's "I drive my Mini Cooper and I'm feeling
super-dooper" combines the wit of Oscar Wilde with the rapping
skills of Grandmaster Flash.
been here before, of course: Music was the worst single release by
an established singer since Paul McCartney's Mary Had A Little Lamb,
and as Bond themes go, Die Another Day made Lulu sound like Satchmo.
intellectual investment by the Popbitching classes in Madonna the
Icon is such that to state the obvious, that Madonna the Singer is
grade-A garbage, would bring tumbling down the whole house of cards
that is modern pop theory.
the crap single come the "exclusive" interviews awarded
to selected media monkeys with a track record of genuflection beyond
the call of duty.
matter how soft the ride Mrs Ritchie is given, she inevitably ends
up saying something gloriously stupid and self-deceiving, such is
the level of professional flattery that has cocooned her for 20 years.
the atrocity that was The Next Best Thing, she famously rated herself
a 10 as wife, lover, singer and - gulp - actress; a score with which
I'd have no quarrel if it were out of 100, rather than 10.
supremely marketing-led phenomenon has turned her merciless intellect
on that supremely easy target, "manufactured" pop music,
in Q magazine.
apparently, made it totally on musical merit, long before the sleazy
parade of "Svengalis holding talent searches, finding a girl
that looks right and can carry a tune, then figuring a way to market
her... I really don't know where we're going with the world. Everything's
bitter people, who don't appreciate what Madonna has done for this
wet little country's morale and economy by coming over here and, um,
moaning about our workmen and hospitals, might point out that she
has kept her career rattling on only by muscling in on all the latest
edgy musical trends - garage, house, rap, techno, trip-hop - all of
which she boils down to the lowest common denominator that her (increasingly)
feeble voice can get a handle on; pasteurised, homogenised beige-beat
with a tendency to make the late Curiosity Killed The Cat come across
like the Four Tops.
is the nub of my argument, the glitch in the seamless, shameless Madonna
machine that just won't go away: for all her talk of discipline and
dedication, has there ever been a professional singer, with two decades
behind her, whose voice has shown not just no improvement, but a decline?
the reputed four hours a day spent putting her ankles behind her head
be better used practising her scales? And how much disrespect does
this show to those who buy her records?
how little effort Madonna has put into the very thing she became famous
for, her fabled knack for "reinvention" starts to look less
like the clever cherry on the cake and more like desperate smoke-and-mirror
decoys from her total lack of talent.
is right to be glad that she made it before "manufactured"
groups started to strut their sassy stuff. But not because she's too
good to cut it among the new crop of singing starlets; on the contrary,
she's not good enough.
a twin who boasted the same rinky-dink whine, she might have made
it as a Cheeky Girl, but no way could she have aspired to join the
excellent Liberty X. In S Club, she'd have been Tina, the "dancer",
not Jo, the ordinary looking Essex girl just out of her teens with
a voice that can already evoke Sarah Vaughan. She doesn't have the
sweet harmonies of an Atomic Kitten or the smouldering soul of a Sugababe.
in fact, a novelty act who happened to have the shrewdest marketing
moves; it's as if the Smurfs had been masterminded by Machiavelli.
of authenticity in "showbusiness" - just look at that word
, for goodness sake, it's bending over backwards to let you in on
its dirty secret! - is one of the greatest cons ever perpetuated on
a paying audience.
middle-aged muse-biz millionaires grown rich by peddling sincerity
and "depth" and the mystery of "creativity" find
the transparently get-rich-quick greed and graft of the manufactured
groups so alarming - no wonder their tone of voice when they talk
of them is that of the most pompous, self-righteous teacher in the
school. "There's always one who has to spoil it for everybody
else, one who's in it for themselves and won't pull together as a
and that's exactly what made pop music great. Next week, I'll explain
why Girls Aloud are the best group since the Sex Pistols.