Madonna's "Girl Gone Wild" isn't all that wild
What do you do if the lead single from your new album campaign drops like dead weight down the charts? If you're Madonna, you release another single and hope that the club kids don't notice that you're treading on old territory.
Madonna's "Girl Gone Wild" single cover. The girl may be wild, but the music no longer is.
Madge's lead single from her hotly-anticipated twelfth album, M.D.N.A., called "Give Me All Your Luvin'" featured Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. It had a built-in audience. Besides the Madonna maniacs out there, the song also had all of Minaj's "barbz" fans and M.I.A.'s following, not to mention the major plug during the Super Bowl halftime show. Nevertheless, last week it dropped 29 places on the Billboard Hot 100 and shows no sign of regaining its footing.
As desperate times for Madonna call for even more desperate measures, the Queen of Pop released a new single, "Girl Gone Wild," to regain her pulse on the world of pop. Whether Team Madonna intended to release the follow-up to "Give Me All Your Luvin'" so early in this album campaign is unclear, but it's certain that they needed to do something, else risk major disinterest and underwhelming sales for an album that, given the singer's unprecedented 360 deal with Live Nation and her scheduled world tour, has a lot riding on it.
What's most interesting about "Girl Gone Wild" is how different it sounds to "Luvin'." The new single, easily the more club-oriented track of the pair, is a tip of the sequined hat to the star's earlier catalogue, with production and vocals that may as well have been lifted from "Celebration."
On the album version of "Wild," which isn't up on YouTube yet, she also name checks her Catholic roots with a spoken intro that sees Madonna say a modified form of the Act of Contrition: "Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee/And I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pain of hell/But most of all because I love thee, and I want so badly to be good."
Save it, Madge; we've already heard you ask God for forgiveness earlier in your career... and better, no less. On "Act Of Contrition," which served as both the B-side to the "Like A Prayer" single and as the Like A Prayer album closer, Madonna professed the Act Of Contrition over "Like A Prayer" played backwards in a major boundary-pushing artistic statement. It was no "Girl Gone Wild." It was better.
If Madonna is recycling her own earlier ideas, and executing them poorly, has she run out of enough creative steam to come up with something new? At least "Luvin'," though it sounded tirelessly dated as a 2012-does-1980s reprieve, was new sonic territory for Madonna. By contrast, "Girl Gone Wild" played out already -- in 2009 and in 1989 -- and for a Material Girl trying to find her way in a digital world, she just seems lost.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music