Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Madonna ft. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. – Give Me All Your Luvin’

Strike a pose.


Jonathan Bogart: “HEY AMERICA, I’M BACK. (You lot know who Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are, right?)”

Edward Okulicz: Every time Madonna releases a new album, I’m drawn like a magnet to her early work. I’m struck, as Christgau was, how relentlessly, ruthlessly and economically practical all her pre-’92 hits are, and also by how bold and confident some of her later ones are. “Give Me All Your Luvin’” has so little of the “notice me: I am a genius who does it my way” spark that powered her hungriest material. Madonna directed winds and challenged the status quo, she didn’t bend to them. “Give Me All Your Luvin’” is a trend-chasing load of hot air that indicates she either has no hunger or current ability to excel. It has no hooks. It has a poor tune. It is meaningless without abandon or euphoria. It is weak as a dance record and unexceptional as a pop record. It isn’t awful to listen to but it has no particular pleasure of its own.

Alex Ostroff: I’ve never gone deep into Madonna’s catalogue (I know, I know. I spent the last two summers absorbing Prince’s entire back catalogue, and the two before that delving into Michael and Janet’s album cuts. Madge is up next), but I’ve always enjoyed her singles — including that late 90’s/early 00’s run of “Beautiful Stranger,” “Music,” “Don’t Tell Me,” etc. that were my introduction to her, more or less. (So sue me. I was born in 1987.) “Give Me All Your Luvin’” hearkens back to that era, vocally and melodically, but the centre of the song lacks charisma that was once palpable. It’s telling that I can’t recall a single lyric until the guest verses start.

Jer Fairall: Granting Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and dubstep about ten seconds each lets us know that she knows what year it is, but everything else about this track, including the Greatest Hits roll call of past wardrobes in the video, looks towards the past. A wise move, as it served her well on her only not-awful record of the last decade (Confessions on a Dance Floor), but she’s only willing to indulge in nostalgia so far: nothing here evokes anything earlier than (the overrated) “Beautiful Stranger” and the whole thing is mostly content to revisit the giddy ebullience of the Music era. What’s missing is that album’s sense of playful ingenuity, the kaleidoscope of sonic quirks wedged deep enough into the music to redeem lyrics as stupid as “I like to singy-singy-singy/like a bird on a wingy-wingy-wingy.” There’s little depth to this production, certainly nothing to make up for that silly cheerleader chant, nothing to make this agreeable little song sound like much more than an advertisement for the forthcoming record. Still, I take the sign that I’m evoking Music in the discussion of this as a hopeful one.

Kat Stevens: I like this song a lot, but my ability to think about it clearly is muddied by snippets of “Bohemian Like You” that keep cropping up in the verse. In simple terms, then: cheerleading Avril stuff = tick. Nicki doing the Good Moaning voice = tick. Half-assed dubstep breakdown = what song is without them these days. Madge is still going strong at 54 = something of a relief for all women who might be approaching a Significant Birthday. Ahem.

Michaela Drapes: The lighthearted, fun side of Madonna is something she’s not given us, her adoring public, much view of during her long and storied career. And maybe this track isn’t so much frivolous as just a more refined version of her trademark insouciance — that much is clear by the very pointed enlistment of Nicki and Maya to her cause. If anyone’s a de facto queenmaker, it’s our Nonni — and it’s clear she didn’t want to get burned again. She’s made smarter choices in selecting heirs apparent this time, because stakes are too high. The reality of her frankly terrifying deal with Clear Channel means that she’s gotta get out there and sell, sell, sell this new incarnation of herself. Not surprisingly, I think the slick, rallying rah-rah theme makes it clear she’s up for the challenge.

Alfred Soto: Let me pass over in silence the “Mickey” and “Girlfriend” (Avril Lavigne, of course) reminders/interpolations. Madonna doesn’t sound quite human. Her voice sounds squeezed, tweaked, and scrubbed of imperfection; it’s the laryngeal equivalent of one of her biceps. Throwing bills at Minaj and M.I.A. isn’t pandering, exactly; she’s so confident that she’s closer to a parent buying her way into a PTA-sponsored Saturday at the park. The pedestrian beats gurgle, injecting no tension between them and the voice atop. Why the fuck should we give her anything?

Katherine St Asaph: It’s downright audacious to sing “every record sounds the same” on a record that sounds like Dr. Luke pulping “How I Roll” for Katy Perry’s final collaboration, with a dubstep bridge so predictably timed it might as well have been spat out of a spigot. Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. smooch and swag their verses upon the song until they’re needed no more; meanwhile, Nicola Roberts and Diplo deserve to seethe forever that their near-identical and less ironically-spelled “L! O! V E!” only caught maybe one airwave. This song is nothing but an overly hyped, context-murdered rewrite of “Beautiful Stranger” minus Austin Powers associations and all its meaning. That still leaves “Beautiful Stranger.”

Iain Mew: The chorus has promising hints of “Beautiful Stranger” but is a good deal clunkier; the cheerleader chants work surprisingly well but still aren’t enough to save the rest of the Madonna sections from being a non-event. The song does however offer another useful data point for the Minaj Contrast Scale — you can judge how exciting a song is by how much its Nicki verse stands out compared to everything else. On that measure this comes somewhere between “Turn Me On” and “Fireball”.

Brad Shoup: Good on Madonna for treating her career as one long prime.  Hell, she never used to have A-list, non-DJ guests, and now she’s making like Mike Jackson. The difference is, she’s enlisted a couple left-of-center pop stars, and they largely serve to fete her? I suppose one could see the move as cool-sucking, which brings its own troubling archetypal connotations. It’s not an invalid scan, I hasten to add, and the dribstep soundtracking Minaj would likely be exhibit B for the prosecution. I’ll take the cheerleading and the bubblerock — really, anything that sounds like Stephin Merritt ghostwrote it. But once she winks out “you can be my lucky star,” she snaps my theory. I’m fine with her teasing us (as ever) with MADONNA, but ’83 MADONNA? That’s a bummer. 

John Seroff: Everything about Madonna’s new single is cynical, tired and self-parodying. The hook is candy-paint immaculate and utterly unmemorable. The guest verses (does four bars qualify as a verse or are we counting based on what they were paid?) are manic and bored in turn but don’t add anything beyond the barest sheen of immediate relevance. Madge sounds like she’s thinking less about the track and more about where she’s getting dinner; I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a lead vocal this phoned in. “Luvin’” (yeesh) is ugly and dispiriting pop that makes “American Life” sound like “Papa Don’t Preach”… and this from a guy that liked “4 Minutes”.

Anthony Easton: I love how Madonna has gone to pure dance, and I love how she reminds us she began this shit. Her continued habit of regally anointing successive generations of female performers, while still attempting to be hip, actually kind of works. Minaj’s verse is surprisingly superfluous, but Martin Solveig’s production is so tight one wonders why it didn’t happen a decade ago. 

Sabina Tang: Eerily reminiscent at points of early Tommy february6 (the font! the cheerleaders!). Refers more to an indie-r electro pop than Tommy’s Stock Aitken Waterman-isms, though — and Kawase Tomoko only looks 20 years more ageless than she ought. Why this? Why now? I would need two weeks to sort out if there is even anything to sort out here, but if this were a Dal*Shabet song I’d give it an [8], so take that as the honest conclusion. 

Andy Hutchins: I would need a corkboard and a lot of twine to connect all the references, but it’s bright, uses Nicki and Maya well, and doesn’t leave the diminished Madonna to do too much.

W.B. Swygart: The important thing is that it’s important. Madonna isn’t really on this record, and she doesn’t really need to be. The moral of the story is that her single, “Her Single Is Droppin’”, is droppin’. The video starts with an unattributed quote that loses points for not beginning “In life, as in revenge….” The ginormous smile on Nicki Minaj’s face is both real and convenient — it’s guest spot #79864, but it’s with Madonna. Her what did “Like a Prayer.” Her what was pop when Nicki Minaj was a kid, and therefore what is still pop now. Sure, guest-spotting with Flo Rida or Tray of Songs might get you a hit, but this is different. This is important. This is Madonna, and her single is droppin’. It is not relevant that “Beautiful Stranger” is better. “Her Single Is Droppin’” has a job to do, and that is make you aware, at all points, that her single is droppin’. You do not need to provide your own context because all necessary context is entirely contained here. There is not time for you to wonder what the baby thing in the video is about, for it just is. A glorious cultural future is heralded with the pruhmeer of the pruhmeer of NBC’s Smash, as bestowed upon you by Madonna dressed as Marilyn Monroe, much like the characters in NBC’s Smash, a golden chariot that shall draw us all together for it has now been touched by the hand of Madonna, who is both back and never went away. There is no room to breathe because breathing does not matter. MIA is possibly doing an impression of the vultures from The Jungle Book, but that does not matter because The Jungle Book is not a thing within “Her Single Is Droppin’”. History began with Madonna’s single droppin’. No time for looking back. No time for taking notes. Do not be bothered by your doubt as to whether this sounds like an R.E.M. song that you cannot remember the name of. There is no time to check your facts, because they are dead and they are never coming back. The future awaits us. And it’s gonna be absolutely OK.

34 Responses to “Madonna ft. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. – Give Me All Your Luvin’”

  1. It’s only in the last couple months that I realized “Beautiful Stranger” had ever been rated.

  2. Every time Madonna releases a new album, I’m drawn like a magnet to her early work. I’m struck every time by how predictable the references to “she used to be so MAKE trends not follow them”, when that was rarely ever the case – her biggest hits are all about 2 years too late, sound wise. She’s doing an adequate job here, sounding no more desperate to be relevant and with the times than she ever did.

  3. If they were 2 years too late, sound-wise, why were they hits? What in chart pop in 1987 sounded anything like “Like A Prayer”, anyway? I’d like to hear them… the point is that Madonna has gone from, at worst, cannibalising from and picking collaborators just outside the top of the pop charts (I won’t call Mirwais or Stuart Price underground figures, for instance) to cannibalising the top of the pop charts. That’s a significant difference in tack.

  4. i don’t think cannibalizing is the right word, i think that she really is sort of enveloping, or bringing people inwards

  5. That needs to be an animated GIF.

  6. Tommy february6 only 1/1/3 days away (from today/Super Bowl/song’s release) from being even more eerie!

  7. “She used to make trends not follow them” always seemed a tone-deaf criticism to me, [i]Erotica[/i] engaged with long-existing house music forms and that’s a fucking awesome record; so it’s more than Madonna throws dense populous light onto the things she is keyed into.

    Regardless, this song is a slinky nothing, sub-Nicola Roberts of all things; there has been a problem with Madonna’s voice ever since she learned to sing; it is nasally locked; it is worse now than ever, totally inert, erasing itself.

  8. wow, look at me confusing this with ILX

  9. I think it’s pretty amazing that Madonna was able to get M.I.A. and Nicki to agree to only have 14 seconds of airtime each and be reduced to backup dancer status in the video. I’m still on the fence about the song, whether I’m content with it or mildly displeased.

  10. so it’s more than Madonna throws dense populous light onto the things she is keyed into.

    That’s pretty much what I meant. She _makes_ things and sounds popular. She doesn’t make the things or the sounds, she popularises them, which is an astute artistic thing to do. But she stopped doing that on Hard Candy and this single has the same problem – it’s just an okay entry with lots of sounds that are overexposed and saturated in the world’s radios. By contrast, when “Hung Up” hit, there hadn’t really been any big Europop crossover hits in a while outside of mainland Europe as well (but “Hung Up” was so good, Europe gobbled it up regardless). Can’t think what hole in people’s lives this song is filling, but I’m just a crank.

  11. OBJECTION! Nicola Roberts deserves better than “of all people”!

  12. I’m not sure this could be any more disappointing and depressing for a single that features three artists I love much other work by. Insipid hook, dreadful (even by late Mdna standards) words, pretty wasteful of the guests best qualities. RIP big girls.

  13. OBJECTION! Nicola Roberts deserves better than “of all people”!

    I loved the Nicola Roberts singles last year, you know that, just why is the new Madonna song recalling some unformed version of them

  14. But she stopped doing that on Hard Candy and this single has the same problem

    I think she’s still trying to do it—given her usual delay on absorbing sounds, the time was right for her to employ the Neptunes and Timbaland. Unfortunately both were (and are) not themselves anymore.

    “Hung Up” and Confessions seem like weird anomalies to this theory unless Madonna was finally tapping into the idea of the French house DJ mix.

  15. For irony! (no, but really: an interview came out a while back where she said her Martin Solveig stuff, which this is part of, is “more ironic” than… well, than something. Red flag for me, at least.)

  16. Glad I’m not alone in thinking this would make for excellent K-pop.

  17. “Hung Up” and Confessions seem like weird anomalies to this theory unless Madonna was finally tapping into the idea of the French house DJ mix.

    Madonna’s public love affair with French house started with Music. Confessions was the third album Mirwais worked on.

  18. …and considering that Daft Punk’s Homework, which was the comprehensive textbook of French filter house was released in ’97 and Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” was released in ’99, I’d say that Madonna’s ’99 studio time for Music wouldn’t make her so slow on the French house uptake.

  19. Surely, PVB, we can’t be the only people who remember the complaints from the peanut gallery about Music, and how Madonna had gone all eurotrash disco and how awful and terrible and horrifying that was!

  20. I hope not, but I expect that I’m the only person on this comment thread who remembers how obsesso DJs were when Music was released. DJs “above” disco house who’d been dismissive about Ray of Light because of Madonna’s continued associations with Miss Junior and Victor Calderone. Of course, these were the same people who were kind of obsessed with the video for “Frozen” because of the Chris Cunningham direction — don’t forget, he gave us the ever-tasteful “Windowlicker,” “Come to Daddy” and “Come On My Selector.”)

  21. Hell, I remember those complaints, and I was only [mumble grumble redacted]

  22. Some of us here are old enough to remember a time before Madonna. (Cue shock and awe.) I remember the first time I saw the “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” videos. It was 1984 and I was 9. I liked the songs because I remembered them from the radio, but I thought Madonna’s hair was ugly.

    What I didn’t know until recently (courtesy of an interview with Madonna from CMJ in ’83 or ’84 — Michaela, can you find that vid?), was that little Nonnie Ciccone was promoting the s/t album and Like a Virgin simultaneously because the first record yielded five singles.

    Also, while I’m thinking about it, was it ever confirmed (like really, really confirmed) that “Baby Love” (’86, produced by Jellybean Benitez) was actually a Regina track, and not an early Madonna recording?

  23. I forgot that I wanted to work a link to this into my blurb: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE_vmDjtFSE

  24. I expect that I’m the only person on this comment thread who remembers how obsesso DJs were when Music was released. DJs “above” disco house who’d been dismissive about Ray of Light because of Madonna’s continued associations with Miss Junior and Victor Calderone.

    *raises hand* Man, did that Tracy Young remix of “Don’t Tell Me” get play at gay clubs.

  25. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ had an existence outside of being a quasi-country shuffle pop tune of glory?

    Man. Not that I would have wanted to be wandering through gay clubs at 13, but…

    Actually, let’s be honest. I probably did.

  26. Also, re: Regina — Relistening, and I think she was just trying super-hard to sound like Madonna. And, hey look — it was co-written with Stephen Bray! (Wikipedia says he produced it, but is that right?) *cough*

  27. *raises hand* Man, did that Tracy Young remix of “Don’t Tell Me” get play at gay clubs.

    What I was getting at perhaps too subtly is that straight DJs who’d never set foot in queerland were all over Music. It was their first experience looking at Madonna tracks as something bigger than and outside the context of explicitly gay club culture.

  28. I thought “Baby Love” was Benitez effluvia. I could be wrong.

  29. I think you’re right: http://www.discogs.com/Various-June-86-International/release/1251284

  30. There is some seriously stinky italodisco on that mix. And by stinky, I mean completely syrupy and awesome. Like an epoisses, it’s just not for everyone.

  31. Or not? The Intertubes are not helping today.

  32. Madonna’s public love affair with French house started with Music. Confessions was the third album Mirwais worked on.

    Oh totally, yes, was just referring to the Stuart Price DJ-set construction of Confessions.

  33. Maddie – I wrote that and sat in a state of existential horror thinking, “Maybe the answer to my ‘why’ is ‘because k-pop’.”

  34. Heard this for the first time out of Jukebox/Super Bowl context over the weekend and am already regretting rating this so highly.