“A bit of a false start”
Digital Release: February 3, 2012
Physical Release: February 6, 2012
There are a great many things ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ tells us about where Madonna stands in today’s music industry, or at least, where she thinks she stands. Regardless of how successful she may have been at being one step ahead of the game in the past, there are not-to-subtle signs in ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’s lackadaisical execution that suggest she’s treading uneasy ground at the moment; a potent reminder that even the greatest of popstars can come falling from their dizzying summits if the mass public catch a whiff of something dangerously off-trend. So, with an eye and ear as astute as ever for being reliably on-trend, Madonna has roped in the help of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. to provide some high-flying assistance for her Martin Solveig-produced endeavour to recapture the peaks of worldwide charts.
The last time we saw Madonna break back into the mainstream was with the floor-shaking bass and apocalyptic rumblings of ‘4 Minutes’ in 2008. Granted, Timbaland has a far more full-bodied production sound than the comparatively reedy Martin Solveig and his whirring synths but there’s just something about ‘Give Me All You Luvin’’ that sounds incredibly dire, like a the wheezy gasp of an asthma-sufferer trying to be heard over a cathartic bellow. Whether it’s Madonna’s nonchalant delivery or Solveig’s breathless production, it simply doesn’t resonate on the same level as her past lead singles, and nor does it make any kind of statement about her return; it’s more of a pop-up message on your computer screen, rudely interrupting whatever it is your doing until you close it – there’s far more interesting stuff out there to be spending your time on, as it were.
Minaj and M.I.A lead the understated procession, proclaiming loud and proud that we’re listening to Madonna. That in itself is an enigma – why does Madonna need a name-check? We know who she is. Their presence certainly is questionable, and their verses later in the song batter and bruise what little innocent peppiness the song has built up by that time. Minaj thinks it’s another vocal workout whereby she has to squeeze as many syllables in the space of ten seconds whilst assuming the gimmicky alter-ego of someone who has absolutely nothing to do with anything at all, and M.I.A. sounds drunks in comparison, meaning the song speeds up (and, by contradiction of all the hasty affectation, reaches it’s highlight) at the merciless hands of the silver-tongued Minaj, and then slows to a sedated drawl when M.I.A. takes the driving seat, her lyrical panache drained of it’s usual satirical humour and bitchiness. Of course, Madonna herself has never been the vocal powerhouse, and is thus left sounding a little complacent that her fame and featuring artists will carry the song to chart summits. It’s hard to acquiesce to her repetitive demands for all your love when she herself sounds like she’s reading the news over a few erratic synths buzzing noisily in the background.
‘Give Me All Your Luvin’’ is a bit of a false start. It sounds like child’s play – it’s tacky, digestible pop music that ticks all the radios’ boxes, so it’ll get blanket airplay. And it will only be a matter of days before you start to question where exactly the missing link is between the lines in the bridge: “Every record sounds the same” and “You gotta step into my world”, when in reality, no such coherence exists. And that is the feeling you get from this song. After such a wait, it’s a wonder why Madonna has returned with such weak material. The pedestal she stands on cannot be supported by the simple accolades that plain pop bestow alone. Given her fans’ fierce loyalty (feel free to substitute “loyalty” for “stubbornness” or even “delusion” depending on your own stance of Madonna), you’d think she’d give them better material to keep fighting fights of her right to the title of “Queen of Pop” over bitchy internet forums and social networking sites than something as generic as ’Give Me All Your Luvin’’.