Here’s how I feel about the Grammys.
Some time ago, people listened to classical music. And jazz. And country and so on. Rock and pop music were considered junk food, McDonalds music. Candy. Classical and so on were “good” music.
Then something happened. We, as a culture, aided by scenes in sitcoms where someone was on a date at a wine and cheese party and felt uncomfortable in a tie, decided that this was snobbery. And we more or less did away with classical and jazz music, unless we were willing to admit to the status of snobbery.
Something else happened. Somewhere along the line, the junk food McDonald’s music was replaced with dirt. DIRT. Listening to popular music became the same as eating dirt, and now if you say “WHY ARE YOU EATING DIRT?” someobody will come along and call you a snob for eating a motherfucking quarter fucking pounder with cheese.
You know whose fault it is? Fucking Madonna’s.
Madonna is just Donald Trump with a vagina, and contrary to 3 decades of cultural theory, that’s not feminism. It’s just everything that’s wrong with Donald Trump minus Donald Trump’s dick. I know some of you are going to be like “It’s nice to see a woman being a slave-owning robber baron who steals from the underprivileged” but really, women doing things we call men evil for doing or use the word “patriarchy” for is definitely also bad.
Madonna actually started out great. Holiday and Into The Groove are as classic as you’re gonna get. Like A Virgin even inspired the second best Weird Al song. The problems start when Madonna gets really huge and gets ideas about what to do with her public image. For instance: embrace the surface aspects of gay culture in a craven attempt to own gay men.
One of the worst things about Vogue is Madonna’s semi-rapping. There’s no good melody here. There’re no good ideas behind heterosexual people encouraging other heterosexuals to vogue. She’s just ruthlessly co-opting gay men by lyrically subordinating them: “STRIKE A POSE. STRIKE A POSE. DO AS I COMMAND. I AM MADONNA.” And that rap at the end! The beginning of a series of terrible raps by Madonna. Write that down, “terrible raps by Madonna”. It is a phrase that inexplicably isn’t used all of the time.
Not to go too “cultural theory” on this, but if you’re Madonna, by 1993 you’re solely doing things so someone else can describe them on Entertainment Tonight. God bless her for keeping the otherwise unemployable employed, I guess. We can’t really blame cultural theorists- they’re like Rain Men but instead of counting matchsticks or figuring out gambling, they pull terms from undergrad humanities texts and explain them via whatever happens to be in People magazine so that people with humanities degrees have something to help them identify with their tabloid-reading cubicle neighbours.
SEX was Madonna’s book. ABOUT SEX. It coincided with the release of her designed-to-shock album, Erotica, which failed to deliver on its promise of being softcore pornography on a CD. In reality, both are publicity stunts. You’ve heard of those, right? When you have nothing to say so you pull a dumb shocking stunt. Like when Prince had no songs for 5 years, so he went undercover as an ampersand. Or in this case: where Madonna can leverage cultural theory to keep the public’s mind off of the fact that between 1989 (Like A Prayer) and 1998 (Ray Of Light) she had nothing even remotely catchy to offer anyone.
Oh great, I hit “play” on my CD player and now Dita’s going to be my mistress tonight. Did Madonna forget what sex was like before she wrote this song? Or did she turn 13 for a second? If you were a teenaged Madonna fan in 1993, you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable playing this album on your mom’s minivan’s tape player because it’s as racy as The Beatles singing I Want To Hold Your motherfucking Hand. Either Madonna legitimately thought she was breaking all the boundaries here, in which case she’s a weirdo who forgot sex was like or she figured that people would be SO INTRIGUED by how close to porn she was pretending to get that the content itself wouldn’t matter because of the off chance that Madonna porn would sell so many copies off the top. Right? That was her gamble. That this was not, in fact, Madonna porn wouldn’t get out fast enough to ruin sales. And then she could defend herself with the claim that she was making art. And then, because the art world is all about starfucking, she would get away with it.
One thing she couldn’t get away with, though, was terrible rapping. In case her terrible rapping flew by too quickly for you or it was bewildering that she was saying so much dumb stuff, here it is (with my notes):
I’m drinking a soy latte
I get a double shot
It goes right through my body (JESUS CHRIST THAT RHYME SUCKS)
And you know I’m satisfied
I drive my mini cooper
And I’m feeling super-dooper (A phrase adults use all the time)
Yo they tell me I’m a trooper
And you know I’m satisfied
I do yoga and Pilates
And the room is full of hotties (I repeat: I do yoga and Pilates AND THE ROOM IS FULL OF HOTTIES)
So I’m checking out the bodies
And you know I’m satisfied
Okay, here’s where she goes completely off the deep end. Any chance for a non-California-millionaire to identify with her is lost with the rest of this song.
I’m digging on the isotopes (THE WHAT?)
This metaphysic’s shit is dope (HUH? WHAT?)
And if all this can give me hope
You know I’m satisfied
I got a lawyer and a manager
An agent and a chef (You know, like the rest of us)
Three nannies, an assistant
And a driver and a jet (Just a normal woman with 3 nannies and a fucking jet)
A trainer and a butler
And a bodyguard or five (OH SURE!)
A gardener and a stylist
Do you think I’m satisfied? (I BET NO! I BET ALL OF THIS IS DISSATISFYING!)
I’d like to express my extreme point of view
I’m not Christian and I’m not a Jew (THAT’S CRAZY! A THIRD OPTION?!)
I’m just living out the American dream
And I just realized that nothing is what it seems
Jesus Christ: how do you dig yourself out of that hole? That was less shocking than an Eminem-Marilyn Manson team-up song about sexing their exes. I’ll tell you how Madonna gets the public eye back: by kissing her milquetoast jailbait protégés on NATIONAL GODDAMNED TELEVISION.
Again: this is how I feel about the Grammys. They are not about music. If you are writing about them, you are writing about the work publicists do with people who are musicians in name only being used as vessels for the work of publicists. Kissing Britney Spears? Pure publicity. And now we live in a world where people legitimately believe that celebrities are being photographed with their dog and their kids in their off-time from work without realizing that THEY ARE AT WORK. THAT IS CELEBRITY WORK. BEING IN PUBLIC.
Those movies and those albums may as well not even exist. They are just there to justify the fact that Taylor Swift’s publicists used the Madonna model to figure out that they can sell millions of shoes by sending her to Starbucks and phoning up US Magazine to say “put your photographers at Starbucks”. They’re just trading in her fame. And, yes, this is a “Wake up, sheeple” moment. I’m trying to start a revolution here. Bring pop culture back to the people! Hang the publicists! When did publicists become sociopathic Andy Warhols, anyway? How did we let that happen? HANG ‘EM! GET OUT IN THE STREETS! Oh, what’s this? Pitchfork is streaming a new album by a long defunct ’90s alt-rock band? Sorry, guys, I have stuff to do.
Oh yeah: I was also making fun of every stupid fucking sociology/humanities/cultural criticism based “essay” about music you guys share on Facebook all the time (eg. “Lorde and Macklemore are Bourgeois Racists”) So HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA revolution are you fucking KIDDING me? No, but seriously: publicists run all of popular culture now and it’s a sick secret world and people are being brainwashed into buying things they don’t even want by celebrities who don’t even do what they’re feted for. Serving you dirt to eat.