The Material Girl lives a quiet, bucolic existence at Ashcombe — her pile in the English countryside. According to USA Today (that useless newpaper, which seems to be the ‘Stateside’ hoteliers’ rag of choice for stuffing under doors) Maddie likes to wile away the hours riding horses, fishing and getting about on her treadly.
Maddie might profess to being as happy as a fish on a bicycle, but her latest cut would suggest otherwise. In fact, it would appear no amount of Famous Five high-jinks, or all the trout-kissing, tree-hugging, plus-fours-wearing fun in the world will fade the memories of her chemically-charged youth.
And so we have Hung Up, another homage to Fame, another tribute to stupidly oversized ghetto blasters; another look back at lurid leotards, legwarmers, and flat caps; another misty-eyed nostalgia trip where dancing on subways and Pacman machines would still raise a ‘those crazy kids’ smirk from puzzled onlookers… And, just in case, anyone’s left in any doubt as to Hung Up’s ’80s credentials, the song is undergirded by ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme riff.
With Hung Up, Madonna might feel ‘like a virgin’ again but her aging, knocking-on-50 bod is showing—what the Ponds Institute might call—‘the visible signs of ageing’. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no doubting Madonna’s fitness, but she’s exchanged that lithe sexiness of her youth for the ‘spuds in a stocking’ look of a five-foot Turkish weight lifter. But as I say, she’s obviously fit as a particularly spritely fiddle, something she ably demonstrates early on in the clip by warming up like a contortionist and shuffling about the floor like a dog with worms.
But watching the ‘Jean Harlowe of Pop’ stripping down to her mauve leotard and doing her stretches is simply the warm-up act. The real action is occurring outside, on the sweltering, swaggering streets of Noo Yoike, where Afro-Americans pass the time at a taxi rank by crunking themselves silly or leaping about the architecture of ‘the projects’ in ways the local council never intended.
The video progresses with more spontaneous outbreaks of frugging, including the case of one particularly confused kitchenhand compelled to grab a dead fish to aid his break dancing — why would I make this stuff up?
Finally, Madonna descends on a throbbing, strobing den of gyrating iniquity for some more jitterbugging. She’s looking like a two-bit hoodlum out of an ’80s Matt Dillon movie with the piece de resistance being… wait for it… the single, fingerless glove. Priceless!
The only thing that concerns me about Hung Up is the fact that Maddie looks to have lost her knack for being at the pointy end of fashion and is now slavishly following the trend of all this chiropractor-funded jerking around on the streets. I’d suggest she starts backing herself again and leads the charge for something fresh. Maddie, look out your window and be inspired by the pastoral splendour of your adopted ‘green and pleasant’ land. For your next video, why not inject some extreme Morris dancing? I mean, a bit of hanky waving and stick cracking (fuelled by lashings and lashings of ginger beer) could be the next big thing. You know it makes sense.