Annie and Madonna
There’s much to disagree with on “I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me,” the first single from Annie‘s upcoming second album, Don’t Stop. It doesn’t move an inch from the sound of Anniemal, the Norwegian pop star’s debut. Actually, the thrust of the beat, which suggests a the lash of a whip (complimenting bridge lyrics “I don’t mind, if it’s the cold and sadistic you like”) is more effective on Anniemal’s “Chewing Gum.” The blame might go to the producer of both tracks, Richard X, but surely our heroine could’ve stepped in to lighten “Girlfriend” of its bottom-heavy structure. This is one of those maddening songs which exists merely to peddle its chorus, up to eight times in four minutes, by my count; a clear violation of musical descency.
Lucky for Annie, none of the above criteria applies to a song as infectious and well-turned as “Girlfriend.” Throw in an awkwardly choreographed but winking video (with moves like Annie’s, her indie-cred will remain intact), and you have this moment’s pop bon mot.
With less deviation than her closest musical peers, Robyn and Róisín Murphy, Annie has followed the sonic template and image-savvy moves of early Madonna. The fact that the Norweigian’s work has been championed by otherwise historically-astute tastemakers (“Heartbeat” was Pitchfork’s song of 2004) is a testament to the revolution Madonna caused upon hitting the scene in 1983. Her template has slowly acquired a credibility similar to The Stooges or Robert Johnson. Merely making the reference, as Annie has through samples and video concepts, helps an artist achieve instant relevance.
Pick up a copy of Like a Virgin and one is struck by how the album art refines the world hinted at in the music. The silvery shot of a twenty-five year old Madonna Ciccone reclining in a rumpled wedding dress telegraphed all the subtle foibles of a Manet demimonde. From that moment in the not-so heady days of 1984 to the present, for a star to be legitimately pop, each new album had to be conceived — from choice of producer to the tracklist’s typeface — as a bundle of meaning. All the photo and video shoots, costume changes and self-revelations which Janet, Kylie, Britney, and Beyonce cycle through every couple of years hint at a the real message, “fuck life, let’s dance!” But it’s the circuitous path the artist draws, in music and images, to this escape which defines their art. It’s never the escape itself.
“Girlfriend” is everything her idol’s entry into the summer jam sweepstakes is not. “Give it 2 Me,” the second single and fan favorite (it charted worldwide on downloads alone) from Madonna’s Hard Candy is the most forgettable single from this consumate singles artist since the title track to American Life, five years ago. As I made its acquaintance I tried to imagine “Give It 2 Me” shuffled into The Immaculate Collection, Madonna’s 1980s Best-of, and failed to place it. “Give it 2 Me” misses by not creating a sonic world unique enough to claim the coming moment, summer 2008, the way “Like A Virgin” was summer 1984 or “Express Yourself” was spring 1989. A tall order? Yes, but this is the standard Madonna has set for herself and her students. And so the summer jam sweepstakes continues.
Article by Andrew Stout
Thanks to Vincy