- 08 May 01
One half expects to lick open the case of this CD and see a free gift of Madonna's public hairs float to the floor.
One half expects to lick open the case of this CD and see a free gift of Madonna's public hairs float to the floor. 'Sex', her new book, contains a free CD featuring the title track from this album and alongside one of its many sexually explicit photographs contains a caption written by Ms. Ciccone who claims "I love my pussy. I think it's the complete summation of my life".
Maybe she's kidding. Maybe she's not. But few would deny that if ever a woman tapped into her vaginal juices to create music it is Madonna. Not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with that. Male singers have exploited the same source of sexual energy since the days of Rudy Valee, the early 20th century crooner secretly known by his fans as "the man with a cock in his voice".
And true to her increasingly manipulative role as the ultimate tease in pop music, the opening track of this album delivers far less than its title promises. A stick on the CD warns that Erotica contains language that some people may find offensive but playing it safe Madonna never finishes the couplet "I'll hit you like a truck/I'll give you love/I'll teach you how to…" Clever woman.
So what's potentially 'offensive' about the lyric? The line "If I take you from behind", perhaps, – though hardly, when it's followed by the cop out "Push myself into your mind". The track also ends abruptly, leaving listeners in a state of musicus interuptus and, no doubt, reaching for that book: Erotica is bound to be big in massage parlours, strip joints and brothels but it doesn't hold a condom to the vastly superior 'Justify My Love'.
Far more interesting and innovative, sexually and musically, is 'Where Life Begins' a swooning, sensuous jazz-based hymn to cunnilingus. Blessed with humorous lines like "Let me remind you/in case you don't know/dining out can happen down below". It should be required listening for every man on this planet. And every woman. To quote Madonna – "Colonel Sanders says it best/finger lickin' good".
Fuelling the feeling that at the core of this album is a sense of "when love fails fucking will suffice" are dance tracks like 'Waiting For You', which focus on the inability of men and women to communicate, to unite for longer than it takes to reach an orgasm. Or to fail to. Likewise 'Thief Of Hearts', which opens with the sound of glass smashing and Madonna crying "bitch" – no doubt this fires more stories about the singer's alleged bisexuality and her love affair with Sandra Barnhard.
But then despite its musical weaknesses and Madonna's current questionable stance in relation to sexuality, the strength of this album lies in the fact that these are songs about contemporary power struggles, reports from the war-front of modern love. There is an implied rage beneath her sexual posturing and sexual manipulation as the glimpse into the psychology of Madonna offered by songs like 'Bad Girl' and the album's most powerful cut 'In This Life' reveals.
Reflecting on the death of friends and ruminating on her own mortality, 'In This Life' is an almost perfect anthem for the age of AIDS, a subject excluded from Madonna's other explorations of sexuality on 'Erotica'. When she does an album of songs similar to 'In My Life' we may finally get a sense of evolution in the career of Madonna, of the artistic growth of which she is capable, from the time of Holiday in 1982 to Erotica in 1992.
For now, however, the title tune and 'Bye Bye Baby' probably best represent the new album, with Madonna still selling her little-girl-lost voice, and sexually, still living in the shadow of Marilyn Monroe. And yet, at 34 years old, she now is near the age at which Monroe died, a faded, broken sex symbol. In that light Madonna must be aware that although Erotica is only the first album in a $60 million seven-album deal with Warners she can't sustain a career over the next decade selling only the musical juices from her (self) celebrated pussy. And, despite claims to the contrary she is doing a great disservice to feminism by reducing woman to little more than a crotch.
But then maybe Gilbert O'Sullivan was right when he recently suggested that "the reason Madonna has always been so big is because young boys, and maybe girls, come home from school and jerk off to her videos the way I used to, to Health And Fitness magazine".
There must be more to music, and to life, than that.