Friday, September 4, 2009

24. Madonna "Hung Up" (2005)

This is the sound of Madonna begging her fans for forgiveness, a 120 BPM act of contrition.

You see, in 2003, Madonna decided to release a somber electro-folk album of protest songs called American Life. She soon discovered that when you're Madonna, you don't release a somber electro-folk album of protest songs without seriously offending your (mostly gay) fanbase. Being the savviest artist of her generation, Ms. Ciccone was smart enough to pull an immediate about face. She squeezed herself into a purple leotard and record some of the frothiest dance music of her career. Hence, "Hung Up."

Madonna beat Junior Vasquez to the punch and released a single that came pre-remixed and ready to dance (with an impossible-to-get-if-you're-not-Madonna ABBA sample, to boot). "Hung Up" stands shoulder to shoulder with early career hits like "Holiday" and "Into the Groove," and is essentially a throwback to her club days.

"Hung Up" is great because, where most hit singles contain one really good hook, it contains three: the aforementioned sample of "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!," the chorus ("Every little thing that you say or do...!"), and the excellent bridge ("I can't keep on waiting for you!").

You could say Madonna was punished for venturing into new sonic territories with American Life, and her return to dance was a step backwards, a capitulation to whiny fans. I think there's some truth to that. Still, "Hung Up" shows that at this point in her career, Madonna is best when she's just being Madonna.

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