Madonna needs a friend who will grab her by the shoulders and ask the hard questions, like, "Are you sure this is such a good idea?" She has needed a friend like this for many, many years, and no, the help does not count. Sure, I know she has a new album out and all that, but she really needs to drink some tea, chill out, take a nap, and get the fuck out of all our faces.
It's like, every time I open Twitter or peruse the wider internet, Madonna is up to some mischief. This is not a new phenomenon: This has been Our Normal for many years, all the way back to her backdoor, under-the-table adopting of children from other countries. She likes to talk. She should talk less.
Recently, Madonna went on Howard Stern's show on Sirius XM to talk about a lot of shit, as people are prone to do on past and present iterations of Howard Stern's shows. You can listen to that whole hour-plus interview below, but on the other hand, if you really want to hear two people talk about the good old days, you could also just call your parents.
Anyway, did you guys know Madonna dated Tupac? Nope, neither did anyone else. I'm not saying Madonna is lying, but I am saying Tupac isn't here to defend himself, and some light Google research only turned up one picture of the two together. Actually, there are three pictures but they all look like they came from the same night. Everything I know about body language doesn't lead me to believe these people were boning, but that they did sit at a table together once, and dead people can't refute things. (This picture also suggests she was actually boning Sting, which might be worse.)
Also, Madge's windup to the casual admission that she once dated Pac is odd! Stern asked her if she hated David Letterman, and she said no, but she had been mad at him once:
I was dating Tupac Shakur at the time, and he had gotten me all riled up about life in general ... when I went on this show, I was feeling very gangster.
First, okay, I get it. Thug life and whatever. But also, that's kind of not an okay thing to say. But Madonna has a long and rich history of saying things that are kind of not okay to say, and not in a strictly artistic, boundary-pushing sense. More in the sense that she's a woman who has been famous since her early twenties, has more money than God, and is pretty out of touch.
For example, in January she tagged a photo of her white son boxing with the hashtag "disn***a".
She did apologize, only after she deleted and reposted the pic with the hashtag #getoffmydickhaters. I think it goes without saying, but if not: Mom, stop, you're EMBARRASSING ME, and you're, uh, kinda defending your use of a racial slur. Plus the apology was an "I'm sorry you feel this way" apology, which is the worst brand of apology, and it totally misses the point to begin with:
I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N-word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur ... I am not a racist. There's no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention ... It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it's a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression. Forgive me.
If you have to explain to someone why it's unacceptable to use the n-word as a term of endearment to your white son, we're already a little too far gone. I'm surprised she didn't play the "I'm not racist, I have a black son, too" card.
The weird race stuff doesn't stop there, either, no siree, and it often overlaps with weird social-media use. Bear with me here. This is the cover of her new album, which is called Rebel Heart:
Madonna sang the classic "Like a Virgin" and put out that one S&M book, you see, and is thus a real rebel. Just like two guys she knows, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. You know, in Madonna's world, anything goes. You can offend whomever! This is where that aforementioned imaginary friend would come in and tell the pop star to log off and think twice about posting pics of Civil Rights leaders in face-bondage situations. "Bad idea, giiiiiirl, let's go get pedis and gab like galpals!"
"This❤️#rebelheart fought for freedom!," she said. This is bad Instagram.
"This ❤️#rebelheart had a dream!," she wrote. This is also a very bad Instagram post.
Now, once you get past the weird, offensive, insensitive behavior, you might think, "But it's MADONNA! She's TALENTED! She's a LEGEND!" Sure, but even legends hit a point where it's time to retire. Remember when Michael Jordan played baseball? "But," you counter, "she's the Queen of Pop, and she's constantly reinventing herself, and what about 'Vogue' and 'Material Girl' and 'Holiday'?" Yes, I feel that. Madonna has a massive legacy, and what she is now hasn't discounted any of that. (Not yet, at least. Imagine what it's going to be like to explain Michael Jackson to your kid one day.)
Anyway! Per my editor's suggestion, I gave Rebel Heart a very pained listen. A few thoughts! First, at this point, her keyed-up out-of-tune AutoTune drone reminds me of Cartman a little bit. Remember the South Park episode where Cartman took love songs and replaced all the baby's with Jesus and lord and became a huge Christian pop star? There's a little of that here, and a distinct focus-group feel, too. Someone with a clipboard told Madonna that kids are doing Molly a lot these days, so it would be good and buzzy to talk about rolling balls in a few songs. Cue "Devil Pray":
Teach me how to pray
And we can do drugs
And we can smoke weed
And we can drink whiskey
Yeah we can get high
And we can get stoned
And we can sniff glue
And we can do E
And we can drop acid
Forever been lost with no way home
Okay, like, I get it. You were cool and edgy in the '80s, but no one calls it E anymore, and people like Madonna are rich enough that they really don't have to sniff glue if they're looking for a good time. This is the kind of music I suspect is played at early-morning raves, which are a thing now. Madonna refers to herself as a bitch probably 5o times on Rebel Heart, and that is low-balling it; I get that she's a bad bitch, but if you have to say it that many times, it's going to have the opposite effect in that people will remember that you live on the Upper East Side and you have really scary arms. On "Unapologetic Bitch":
It might sound like I'm an unapologetic bitch
But sometime you know I gotta call it like it is
It might sound like I'm an unapologetic bitch
But sometime you know I gotta call it like it is
You know you never really knew how much you loved me 'til you lost me
You know you never really knew how much your selfish bullshit cost me
Oh, fuck you
This song will be played mostly at Divorce Parties for middle-aged power bitches. Who's bringing the Moscato?
There is also a song called "Illuminati" where she raps, plus a lot of the religious and lapsed-Catholic-type stuff you expect from Madonna. It's fine. But you keep thinking, "That's someone's mother." It's not edgy—it's just her schtick. But the aforementioned songs are fine in comparison to "Holy Water," which is a long anthem about Madonna's vagina and the things that go in and out of it. I just gagged. Just now, just thinking about this song again.
Don't it taste like holy water (bless yourself and genuflect)
Don't it taste like holy water, like holy water
Don't it taste like holy water (Yeezus loves my pussy best)
"Yeezus loves my pussy best"—Madonna, 2015. I had to look up the lyrics because I thought and hoped I had misheard them. I wonder if Kanye signed off on that line. I wonder if Kim signed off on that line. Wait, have Madonna and Kanye done it? Or, if we're talking about what the song is actually about, when did Kanye ... go down on Madonna? I need to take a walk around the block. Madonna needs to take 400 walks around the block. We need to find Madonna a friend.
It might be impossible at this point to get Madonna to come down to earth. It would be fortuitous to her legacy for her to stop talking to the press and posting on Instagram so much. She should also cut the shit with the slurs and never ever, ever compare herself to Nelson Mandela again. We get that you're an icon. She doesn't have to tell us a million times.
This next part isn't my best look, but I'll throw it out there for some context. The only time I've ever gotten really AMPED for a Madonna song is at a sorority formal. I was in a sorority in college that, for some reason, felt that "Like a Prayer" was Our Song. A herd of girls would drunkenly gallop-shuffle to the dance floor the second the choir started to go Ooooohhh, and suddenly you had a bunch of sorority sisters lip-syncing into their fists and haphazardly pointing at one another in a huddle of arms and hair and colored silk. Then you get a little older and go to enough weddings that you realize: Every single sorority in all of the land thought "Like a Prayer" was their song. I think that if you're at a point in your career where you've become the anthem for every sorority girl's sorority things, you've hit somewhat of a point of no return.
In any case, Madonna needs to go on a long hunt for some chill. Maybe go on a vacation super off the grid somewhere. In that same Howard Stern interview, she said she craves a normal life "maybe every three days." Look, no one is stopping you, Madonna. To invoke a quote from another Civil Rights leader you will probably desecrate at some point, be the chill you want to see in the world. Make some friends. Get the fuck out of my face. Preserve your legacy. It's all within reach.
Top Image: Marc Piasecki/Getty