16
Sep 09

MADONNA – “Die Another Day”

FT8 comments • 835 views

Perhaps icons inevitably try to upstage each other. Madonna, given the chance at a 007 theme song, is provoked into her most radical 00s single. Also – to be fair – one of her most divisive: it got abuse both from Bond purists who detested its lurching, patchwork aggression, and from neutrals who thought it was a bit silly. I thought it was excellent in 2002, and it’s aged better than most of her risk-averse work since. Her stuff with Timbaland last year sounded dated the moment it came out of the box: “Die Another Day”, for all its awkwardness, still sounds fresh. At the time the main reference point seemed to be Akufen. Akufen! Which gives you an idea of how odd, even in the surprise-rich charts of the time, this record sounded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTh_uUmFiDY

Madonna refuses to act the roles Bond movies – and songs – tend to give their women: not for her the Greek chorus of “You Only Live Twice” or the enraptured lover of “Nobody Does It Better”, and she outgrew femme fatale long ago. She’s more like a villain here, subjecting Bond (via the much-loved tradition of his theme song) to all kinds of tortures. But at the same time she is herself a superagent: the song’s a catalogue of things she’s going to do, mostly metaphysical, delivered in a clipped, unnatural cadence that makes the lyrics sound like cut-ups. “I’m gonna kiss some part of”; “I’m gonna break the cycle”; “I’m gonna delay my pleasure” – and ending every verse, the amazing refrain, “I’m gonna close my body now”. In the Bondiverse, no greater threat or power exists: Sigmund Freud, analyse that.

Comments

  1. 1
    Steve Mannion on 16 Sep 2009 #

    I dunno about the Akufen thing really as Mirwais had done a fair bit of the stop/start cut-up trickery already (esp. with acoustic guitar loops e.g. Don’t Tell Me, Naive Song) so it just seemed a continuation of that…unless you mean something else about the production? Point stands tho. It was and is one of her best 00s singles.

  2. 2
    Tom on 16 Sep 2009 #

    I think I’m probably just misremembering some old ILX argument! You’re right abt “Don’t Tell Me” of course but the sweetness of the melody is a sticking plaster there on the harshness of the cut-ups.

  3. 3
    Lex on 17 Sep 2009 #

    YES! This is probably my favourite post-Erotica Madonna track. It kind of…completely encapsulates her, in a way.

    Terrific video, too. Love the way that Bond’s only presence is one frame where he gets casually caught in the crossfire of the two Madonnas, neither of whom notice or acknowledge him.

  4. 4
    Tom on 17 Sep 2009 #

    Haha yes, it’s like she’s looked at a few Bond films and thought “Hmm, yes, these are OK but they’d be better if they were about ME”

  5. 5
    abx on 17 Sep 2009 #

    Shame about the movie..

  6. 6
    masonic boom on 17 Sep 2009 #

    The squelchy synth line at the end totally *makes* this song for me. (I am such a sucker for squelchy synths.)

  7. 7
    Kat but logged out innit on 17 Sep 2009 #

    I had a big problem with the vocoded voice at the time – obv that effect is so prevalent these days that it’s barely worth mentioning! I still think the track is pretty thin-sounding though, like it’s missing a bassline (esp compared to the Daft Punk thud of ‘Music’).

    The Sigmund Freud line is awesome however.

  8. 8
    Richaod on 17 Sep 2009 #

    I agree totally – love the fucked-up approach, but even more that it retains a melodic/cinematic edge.

    Like the Sigmund Freud line too – but the massive pause before “analyse this” makes it come off as a bit, well, random on first listen.

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