The prop department on Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’” really had its hands full.
The video includes an infant carriage, baby doll, cutaway taxicab and tommy gun, among other accoutrements. Then there are the biggest props of all: the NFL, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A.
Madge uses the “Luvin’” video to remind the world not just of her Super Bowl-worthiness, with its chorus lines of anonymous football players, but the fact that all the cool kids on the pop block still want to play ball with her, whether they represent radical chic (M.I.A.) or cartoonish commerciality (Minaj).
Gone are the days of Madonna chasing after the edgiest trends in icy electronica. Both the “Luvin’” single and video were released at 9 a.m. ET this morning (no sleepy-time midnight iTunes unveilings for this high-profile girl), and amid the froth overload of both, what was most immediately apparent was that the cred Madonna would now really like to appropriate is … Katy Perry’s.
Dr. Luke’s name isn’t on the production – Martin Solveig’s is – but the mixture of rock rhythm-guitar riffs, gurgling electronics, and harmonic cheer bears his mark. Certainly the enduring influence of Toni Basil will be oft-cited, too. Madonna must have slipped Minaj and M.I.A. a “Mickey” to get them to participate in a song that asks them to literally be cheerleaders for their host (“L-U-V Madonna/Y-O-U you wanna!”).
Of course, Madonna’s fellow stars are the only ones allowed to have faces in the “Luvin’” video. Several shots hard back to her seminal “Material Girl” video, where Madonna was passed overhead on the hands of dozens of men, as she is here. The difference is that back then, the extras had faces. Here, the guys all wear opaque football helmets and the girls all wear anime-style masks with big cartoon eyes. (Well, that’s one way to ensure the extras don’t make eye contact with the star on the set.)
Is it risible? Yes. Infectious? Yes, that, too. Everything here is as dumb as the titular spelling, but the campiness has its charm, at least if you like the old musicals that some of the tracking shots here are paying homage to. And there are very few things in life, popular entertainment included, that don’t go better with pompons.
Madonna is finally as well-styled as she is well-toned this time around, and the almost tippy-toe steps she does while trotting down the streets of a back lot (and stepping over the jerseys the football players lay across chivalrously puddles for her) are a clever visual complement to the very, very, very light touch of the music.
Miss M ditched the moodiness of her “Ray of Light” period for sheer sugar on her last album, “Hard Candy,” and this suggests she plans on continuing in the same unpretentious direction. There’s something about the goofiness that wears well on her, even – or maybe especially – at 53.
Still, it’s hard to ignore that there’s as much grease as sugar in this pan. Released three days before the Super Bowl, the video’s football imagery can’t help but suggest that Madonna is somehow paying the NFL back for its faith in her as a halftime draw – and/or just pulling out all the stops to ensure her gays tune in. It’s sexy-cute now, but will we still love it Monday morning?
And what in the world is in this for M.I.A., who looks great but seems a little out of her element cheerleading for anything other than Sri Lankan leftism? Isn't this a little beneath her, especially considering the brevity and banality of her guest rap late in the tune?
If you’re looking for the trail of grease here, look no further than to the fact that M.I.A.’s own new video, “Bad Girls,” also premiered this morning, coincidentally enough. Timing is everything, for radical pop stars as well as Laker Girls.