Sunday, November 13, 2005

Actually

I really do like Madonna's “Hung Up”. I was hesitant at first – not because, as Tim pointed out to me, it’s entirely structured around the ABBA sample (I might even be willing to dispute this, actually) – but because it seemed a little flat, with no heightening or even change in intensity the whole way through. But then I felt it: not so much a contrast as a threat, lying between that thin confession, “every little thing that you say or do” and the galloping, heavy, relentless, drive of the beat. It’s not quite the delicious will-to-self-effacement of “Deeper and Deeper” or “Die Another Day”, but it is something very similar: the menacing danger of being enveloped, engulfed, swallowed up. Like watching a tiny surfer on a monstrous wave. The track swells up around those fragile, desperate vocals – and breakdown is imminent.

Furthermore, it’s dystopian and futuristic, which is but one of the Thin White Duke / Jacques Lu Cont / Stuart Price signatures that I’m so taken with at the moment. Among these also are the obsession with time (tick-tocks are wonderfully urgent here) and that all-encompassing, intoxicating beat. It’s like a surging, pulsing hail storm from all sides.

And finally, the references aren’t cheap – it’s Madonna, so they have the effect of reassuring us that this is the next episode of the story. “Don’t cry for me…”, she sings. And ABBA gets more than a nod in theme and lyric, outside of the famous sample: “ring ring ring goes the telephone…” One could almost imagine that it’s half-past twelve in her flat all alone!

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By the way, I have noticed recently that anytime a female vocalist uses some generic term of affection in a song – here Madonna with “baby”, but also Kate Bush’s “come on angel, come on, come on darlin’…”, Tori Amos’ “honey you bet your life…” – and countless others that I can’t think of now – I get weak at the knees. I think it’s something to do with the openness or intimacy of the lines – will have to give it more thought.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:19 pm  
Blogger Tim said...

I've warmed to "Hung Up" too now Catherine! Initially I just thought that Madonna's vocal hooks weren't big enough, that it relied on the sample to push it into the realm of the memorable, but the vocals have crept up on me, and the whole thing really does hang together awfully well - seeing the video clip helped too, I think.

And yeah, the production is great even apart from the sample, that sort of urgent Moroderesque pulse (someone on ILM described it as "uber-trance"... I should give you the TWD remix of Fischerspooner's "Just Let Go" as well, as I reckon you will love that).

11:59 am  
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12:48 am  

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