“Bitch I’m Madonna” arrives with all of the swagger and braggadocio befitting a new track by a pop icon with a title like that. But for all of the bombast, why does it mostly seem just pathetic and sad?
Madonna ignited a social media firestorm this week when she teased that the new video, which debuted Wednesday morning on Tidal, would feature cameos from a cavalcade of pop supernovas (most of whom owe their careers to Madonna’s badass feminist influence and, more important, many of whom are investors in Tidal).
Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Diplo all showed up, as did the inexplicable trio of Chris Rock, Alexander Wang, and Rita Ora. (Who? LOL. Ugh.).
The announcement raised many questions.
Is Madonna pathetically copying Taylor Swift, who made headlines and broke viewership records herself when she released her “Bad Blood” music video, itself a bland orgy of celebrity cameos meant to arouse publicity for the clip? Or is Madonna actually dissing Swift by one-upping the star power in her own video? (TayTay gets Mariska Hargitay and Ellen Pompeo. Well, bitch, Madonna’s got Beyoncé.)
And, finally, what dirt does Rita Ora have on some Hollywood mogul’s murderous past to keep popping up in legitimate entertainment affairs like this?
All of those questions, it turns out, aren’t even worth answering, as in the end, “Bitch I’m Madonna” is absolutely pointless. At worst, it’s desperate. At best, it’s just dumb.
For all of the talk of these megawatt celebrity appearances, Madonna, who filmed the video at the bar at the top of the Standard Hotel, couldn’t even get most of them to show up on location to shoot with her. Sure, Rock, Diplo, and—hahaha—Rita Ora had the time to film their spots on-location.
But the blink-and-miss-it appearances by the real stars—Beyoncé, Kanye, Katy, Miley—were so clearly filmed from wherever in the world they happened to be, limited time-commitment efforts in which they each mouth “Bitch I’m Madonna” once in a closeup shot that’s very clearly nowhere near where actual Madonna is shooting.
There’s certain poetry, sure, in the fact that these stars who owe the pop stage platform they’ve been given to the radical success of Madonna paying homage to their predecessor by literally owning her part in them—“I’m Madonna”—instead of denying her influence.
But coming on the heels of Swift’s over-the-top, blockbuster effort in which she actually managed to wrangle the stars she shamelessly teased in promos for her video to the actual shoot (and stuff them into leather bondage outfits not suited for the weird martial arts they were forced to perform, to boot), Madonna’s phoned cameos seem, well, kind of lame. Even Minaj, who raps a verse on the song, appears via green screen.
The rest of the video, however, is a fascinating mix of impressive and sad, both aggressively relevant and therefore wholly irrelevant at the same time.
It’s fitting that Cyrus makes an appearance in the video, as the clip certainly borrows from her “We Can’t Stop” fever dream bacchanal: Madonna kisses shirtless models, there are topless Japanese women fondling each other in a bathtub, glow-in-the-dark sock puppets perform, breakdancing and piggy back rides. It’s visually appealing, if at times too much of a candy color cacophony to make an impression or have a discernible aesthetic.
The biggest feat of the video, and its greatest worth, is the Birdman-style single take she shoots the party in, a meticulous accomplishment of choreography for which we should continue to bow down to Madonna, the master of such things.
It would all make more of an impact, of course, if the song had any merit. Instead it’s a monotonous four minutes of tuneless claps, spoken word, and random beat drops serving as filler to the admittedly cathartic and powerful chant refrain: “Bitch I’m Madonna.”
It’s the kind of song that is well-suited for exactly the kind of club nights its video depicts.
It will play late at night, we’ll all be sufficiently inebriated, and we’ll dance along to it somnambulantly, out of dance floor habit, unaware of what it is we’re bopping along to until we’re woken up by that declaration: “Bitch I’m Madonna.”
The song is fine, sure, and it’s certainly the most pleasing of Madonna’s attempts at a modern pop reinvention. But it’s not up to par of the kind of club tracks she should be putting out, and certainly pales in comparison to tracks by the pop royalty she parades before us in the video, albeit so briefly.
In the wake of “Feeling Myself,” the delightfully lived-in video that Tidal premiered from Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj this month, “Bitch I’m Madonna” is the latest attempt by the struggling streaming service to gain good favor from skeptical prospective users by exclusively premiering Big Deal music videos.
The pop culture conversation that will be driven by the release of Madonna’s new video certainly makes a case for coughing up some money to check it out on Tidal. But as for the actual audio-visual merits of a Tidal subscription, which is supposed to be worth its price because it gives you better quality music and videos, let’s just say that the video froze three times while we tried to watch.
In fact, after about two dozen tries, we still haven’t been able to catch the last 30 seconds, as it keeps freezing.
I’m pretty sure Rita Ora is behind this.