Tidal is the Regina George of music streaming services. With a “You can’t sit with us” mentality—even when you do make it to the table, it taxes you immensely. No wonder it’s where the “cool kids” sit: Jay Z, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Arcade Fire, Jack White et al. And wherever the cool kids are these days, that’s exactly where you’ll find Madonna. Even though Madonna was a pop culture trendsetter in her prime, she’s now a needy tag along, cloyingly keen to assert her relevance by the company she keeps. At least that’s how I saw it, until she released the video for “Bitch I’m Madonna.”
When I heard she had a song called “Bitch I’m Madonna,” my first thought thought was “of course she does.” My second was that the title of the track needed a comma after the “Bitch”—which I still think is necessary—but that’s just me being pedantic about commas. When I heard the song featured vocals by Nicki Minaj, and cameo appearances by Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rita Ora and Beyoncé, I was even more convinced that this would be one more misstep in the saga that is Madonna’s attempt to be forever 21. And for the most part, it is, but it works—which is was the last thing I expected.
Even though the basic premise of video is pretty much a straight rip-off of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” I’m not even mad. Mostly because Madonna’s cameo-heavy, montage-y video is better. It’s more fun, more self aware, and weirdly, less try-hard. Although, that’s generally the number one criticism I’ll level at Madonna in this latter part of her career: that she’s posing as something she’s intrinsically not. Here, she’s Taylor Swift, surrounded by a gaggle of high profile, rich, powerful women. Except that she’s not Taylor Swift. She’s Madonna. For the most part, I’ve never really understood the militant offense people take to the adaptation of ideas. Intellectual property theft is one thing (a criminal act), but seeing something good, emulating and updating it, is pop culture in a nutshell.
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