In 2005, Madonna is already Madonna. As cliché as this might sound, it’s also the truth. After more than twenty years at the top, radically changing the role of women in the world of mainstream music – to the point of earning the title of Queen of Pop – any other person would not have felt the need to revolutionize herself and her own repertoire once again. Madonna, however, is Madonna and metamorphosis is part of her DNA as a person and as an artist, as well as her peculiar aptitude for always doing things big. Go big or go home.
No wonder if the story we tell is born under a star that is more than excellent, it is exceptional. In the strict sense of exception, something that is out of the ordinary. ABBA are famous, among many merits and few demerits, for the numerous no’s to requests to sample their songs. Only in 1996 they allow the Fugees to use In the name of the game and in 2005 they agree to Madonna’s request to base the lead single of her new album, Confessions on a dancefloor, on the melody of the instrumental introduction of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A man after midnight).
Hung up, released on 18th October 2005, opens with the ticking of a clock, almost a cultured reference to musique concrète but also, surely, to the passing of time waiting for something or someone in vain. Like a cinematographic cross diffusion, a synthesizer melody approaches coming out of the drawers of our memory until it explodes under the pressure of an insistent and enthralling bass. Madonna is playing her best cards, the same ones she forcefully used to enter the game in the 80s: a story to tell, a captivating sound and a charisma that fills her not being a vocalist with a great singing technique.
As in 1990, when she invited her audience and, above all, her gay audience to be who they feel they are on the dance floor, the singer returns to the subject with a video clip and a choreography dedicated to John Travolta and the ability to dance to free from frustrations and fears. The Italian American artist appears in a rehearsal room while around the world, from Los Angeles to London via Tokyo, people of all ages and ethnicities dance and let the music flood them and the movement shake their bodies. Taking advantage of another easy but apt expression, when Madonna makes Madonna nobody can equal her. But when does this happen? Instinctively we could say “quite often, or almost always”, but going into specifics the answer is: when she goes back to her roots and rethinks them; when she picks us up and takes us to the dance floor.
Again, aesthetics matter just as much as the music. The Confessions on a dancefloor era materializes to the public in a fuchsia high-cut bodysuit, a new hair color for the singer – which goes from blonde to red – and an iconography inspired by the 70s and 80s: one of the main worlds of reference for an artist always looking for something new but also very tied to her roots as queen of the dance floors and catalyst of cultures and minorities. For three years (the duration of the Confessions era), Madonna is again the gay icon that animates the ballrooms in such a perfect and all-encompassing way making the standard even more unattainable – and according to some, even for herself.
And who knows if that morning, that day when she decided to create all this and give life to a new self, Madonna looked in the mirror and said “I’m doing it for the girls and for the gays”…