Why I Love MDNA
Listening to MDNA, I’m 16 again, driving around in my old beat-up Subaru and “Open Your Heart” is blaring – on the cassette player. I’m rocking my own version of Judd Nelson’s St. Elmo’s Fire hair, wearing my prized Gucci watch, signet ring and rope-chain bracelet.
This was the 80s and, yes, bitches, I was fierce! I wasn’t out, but I was gay. And I, like many other gay men, loved watching Madonna push sexual boundaries. When she made my parents uncomfortable and angry, it was as if she gave me permission to be okay with being me. I worshipped her and everything she did in the “Me” Decade.
Fast forward to 2012.
I still love the Material Girl, even after her less-than-successful American Life and Hard Candy albums. I hated those albums; she just tried too hard to produce a sound heard everywhere else on the radio – a “current” sound. But when she sticks to her signature style – the stuff that first won me over three decades ago – she’s a hit again.
I was hooked on the first single from the MDNA album – “Give Me All Your Luvin’” – as soon as I heard it for the first time last year after it leaked.
This track, along with “Some Girls,” takes me back to my youth, reminding me of her vintage hits like “Lucky Star,” “Borderline” and even “Material Girl.” I remember her videos back then as much as her music – like when she rolled around on the floor at the MTV Video Music Awards singing “Like a Virgin” in that wedding dress. My parents would say horrible things about her back then, but deep down – on the inside – I was jumping up and down.
The newest single from MDNA, “Girl Gone Wild,” is best enjoyed via the Offer Nissim Remix that took me back to Twilo in 1998. I couldn’t get enough. I set the track on repeat and worked out for an hour. The song harks back to 1990s Madonna. It’s Blonde Ambition meets “Vogue” meets “Express Yourself” meets “Erotica.”
And there’s more where that came from.
“Masterpiece” and “Falling Free” also dig back into the Madonna songbook, reminding me of “You Must Love Me” and “Crazy For You.” As my friend Ed says, “She has that song on every album and I just love it.”
It seems fitting that these songs remind me of her role in Evita as she makes her directorial debut this year with W.E.
And the guitar riffs in “Love Spent?” Think: “Don’t Tell Me.” She played that on on the Drowned World Tour – the first time I ever saw Madonna live. I was 30 by then and all I wanted to do was dance and sing. And all she wanted to do was play that damn guitar. The concert was gay Texas rodeo meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon with guitar, lots of guitar. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cowboy (with a, um, hidden dragon) but what I really wanted was to “Vogue” like I first did in 1989 as a fledgling 19-year-old sneaking into gay bars.
But with MDNA, I once again get to relive many of my favorite Madonna moments with new material that still sounds authentic. Today, I may be a grown man at 42, and out and proud, but when it comes to Madonna, I feel a lot like that giddy teenager from the middle of “Pennsyltucky,” driving my beat-up old car, singing and seat dancing.
Barry Eichner will argue with anyone that he is Madonna’s biggest fan. He’s also the founder of FoodRulez.