Biorhythmic: Madonna’s MDNA

MDNA… the last time I wrote those letters in said sequence was, well, four years ago when I was at AU studying Advanced Bio; proper Madonna album debut… the last time I sat down to indulge in one of those was, well, four years ago when I was in life living Advanced Pop. Those were different days, simpler days. Days where Hard Candy was a passable stab at soundtracking Pop’s sticky-and-sweet soul, until a few years later when we’re in the midst of the reality that it was more a passable set of fillings in the cavity-laden mouth of Mod Pop.

M-D-N-A… the last time I chanted those letters in said sequence was but a few moments ago when Pure Pop emerged from the cultural tar pits of Detroit born-and-bred, Euro wed-and-bedded electronic sublime filth that is “I’m Addicted” – that is the cosmic bass stealth anthem from the primary piece of modern Pop’s genome: M.D.N.A.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA[2]) is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Most other DNA present in eukaryotic organisms is found in the cell nucleus.

MDNA rests housed in that most prominent pantheon we call Pop. That metaphysical space where stars, icons, artists, and cultural producers convert energy and inspiration from raw earthly materials into a form world citizens can use… we like to call this form art, film, music – life. Nowadays, that translation and conversion finds its right-hand on the mixer and synth machine, ATB and the electronic scene are as elemental to the contemporary Pop body, as adenosine triphosphate is to the maintenance of the human body.

Mitochondrial DNA can be regarded as the smallest chromosome, and was the first significant part of the human genome to be sequenced. In most species, including humans, mtDNA is inherited solely from the mother.

Madonna can be regarded by some as a most overlooked character within said pantheon – up until recently, her relevance depended upon how many other artists’ Top 40 tracks could be traced to her origins, usually at no less than a 10 year radius. Equally important is her undeniable position as the primal piece of the modern Pop genome to be considered in the scheme of the scape. Whatever it means to be a Pop star now, whichever barometer one chooses to gauge themselves against, in most cases – that blueprint is inherited solely from the Material Girl.

And so… as much as Madge must confess to the greater Pop gods – on behalf of herself, and her fellow maidens – I must equally confess that… I too doubted, as did Thomas… I too forgot, I too fell under the same false assumption which I myself posed not too long ago, and inevitably that doubt surfaced when in the face of drought comes the deluge: “Madonna’s genius though, is in her ability to recreate relevance when she seemingly needs it most – when the Pop world forgot themselves under the illusion that she was no longer Pop.” Honestly though, there was no context to this album – it was ad-hoc until yesterday. Alas, everything – Madonna included – without context is a lie. And, well, once given perspective – this masterpiece is the truth.

Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee
And I detest all my sins
Because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell.
But most of all because I love Thee,
And I want so badly to be good.

And with that most fitting introduction, we step sonic foot into the nucleus of a pulsing palace where princesses are held to that most fundamental truth: that every Pop star is a good girl gone wild – that is all modern Pop is, and all it will ever be, as long as it’s worth its weight in self; with every beat a bruise, every scribed line a scar from the battlefield between one’s own Fame and that silhouetted sinner beneath – on the upside though, silver linings rarely sound as good as they do when they speak from such scorn.

Top to bottom MDNA is the building blocks. The production… the, production. For all of the humanity lost at the feet of Madonna – for all of Gaga’s monstrous mothering, all of Rihanna’s Navy comandeering, all of Katy’s well-doted Purries, all of Bey’s Hive, all of Britney’s, well, basic mortality – for all of the basic human empathy or flesh, bone, blood, sweat, and tears that appear to be lacking within the Metropolis monarch machine that is Madonna – it is that same flawed piece that makes perfection so satisfying.

Machines understand machines, human robots can translate code into something presentable for people with souls – human robots? Yes. Human robots. And so, when Kanye made the 808’s heart break, when Gaga made the machinated Mary bleed, it was artistic and raw and wonderful – but it wasn’t pristine, and it wasn’t meant to be. It posed the display of what happens when humanity and technology mingle and attempt to conceive something not entirely either – the musical hybrids of bright white ProTools and a touch of human blues and torment. Madonna doesn’t bow to those demons, she just bears absolutely stunning design. The layers: human robots give basslines instead of blood, they respond with reverb over echo, they wear synth shields instead of skin, they have no hearts only beats, and their gut feeling rides only on grooves #technologic

And the lyrics… and the laughable irony that is “Gang Bang:” Like a bxxch out of order, Like a bat out of hell, Like a fish out of water, I’m scared, can’t you tell #bangbang Pop: because I’m shaking in my Dolce boots.

Then there’s the drugs… then there’s the MDNA/MDMA argot #BANGBANGBANGBANG These chains won’t break, but they will slide… Fame is like a drug, but what was even more like a drug was the drugs… Fame is the everything and only thing upon which Pop since Madgestic Rule is premised – and that addiction, that affliction, is the sole entity channeled from icon to the individual and industry alike. This my friends, this my fiends, is precisely what Fame feels like: sonic suprahumanity. Music and Knowledge: drugs I snort everyday… the torrent, the most ferocious flow… the mass metronomic hysteria flooded downwards from the static throne #getfamiliar

This ^ is the relationship between Hard Drive Ciccone and the known Pop sphere – plugged in, but pulled back – stunner shades up, Chanel leather on the grip, powered by flashbulbs, posted in the shadows: stonefaced, synthbased, the sober dealer Omar off the Wire… Fame’s most fatal femme-bot… back out to black out… that night you married last year, never forget who mothered that darkness.

Vinyl Cut Prose: “I’m Addicted” – makes me want to throw up, All of the letters push to the front of my mouth… the amount of pressure placed on the listener is literally worthy of ridicule… snap… So voluminous, so dark, like an Archaeological-Anthropological sonic emergence from the techtronic tar pits of a digitized disco: Free Bxxches and Fossil Pop. When did your name change from a word to a charm? The narcissist’s most socially-self-serving genesis… And saying your name is somewhere between a prayer and a shout, And I can’t get it out like a halfway between immaculate collection and sheer euphoria… When did your name change from language to magic? Probably around the time when people stop remembering exactly why you’re famous, but realize it’s of no importance as you redefined what Fame meant anyway #popicallyspeaking … and then – boom goes the dynamite.

Now that your name
Pumps like the blood in my veins
Pulse through my body, igniting my mind
It’s like MDNA and that’s OK

She could be talking to you or the mirror, but it doesn’t matter. As the building block of modern Pop “I’m Addicted” is MDNA in its totality. The mitochondrial foundation, the relentless, the systematic hysteria from an absolutely static core, Molly the Dolly’s chemical composition riding the wave of that synthesized bloodline straight to the brain, building to that tipping point, the fever pitch of aural aneurysm in which the only constant over the chaos is the lone voice ringing: M, D, N, A #mcommadcommamcommaa I need to dance… it fits like a glove… like black leather clung to the steering wheel behind the white Bronco… coasting down the MDNA freeway. Fantastically frenzied Fame overdose pushed to the comatose – exhale.

And then we begin the story with “Turn Up the Radio,” from one of the first faces of that very video which killed said radio star.

It was time that I opened my eyes
I’m leaving the past behind
Nothing’s ever what it seems
Including this time and this crazy scene

I’m stuck like a moth to a flame
I’m so tired of playing this game
I don’t know how I got to this state
Let me out of my cage cause I’m dying

Returning to the roots, when she reigned in absolute dominion. Turn up the radio, turn up the past when Pop was something more musical… sonically visual.

What is interesting about this album is that it perfects and polishes the elements of pre-MDNA pop pieces, and gives context and cohesion to that sound. If nothing else, Madonna’s signature mom move is to come in after the chaos, after the kids are back from soccer and cheerleading to clean up the house and make it presentable again. In 2005, after the fallout which was 2004 #bygeorgeithinkheslostit Madonna came through with Confessions on a Dancefloor #donttalktome In 2008, after the fallout which was 2007 #parislindsaybritney #oflife Madonna came through with Hard Candy #toughlove In 2012, in the midst of the Mayans, in the wake of many, many things #occupygopcandidacy Madonna comes through with MDNA #apopcalyptic Rolling in, again, just like an Italian G, in silence #lasagna – after her own hype: the Super Bowl, two debatable singles, W.E. and sipping tea, and reductionism – she comes through with a soundtrack that reminds you what it means to be Pop.

Pop is fun. Pop has your mind scrambling to fathom the immensity of the fxxk it’s not giving; Pop is 50-something sounding so filthy and so clean; Pop is one girl throwing the St. Christopher piece on, while some girls get their freak on; Pop is Madonna laying in the cut looking scared of a Twitter page, sounding like she’s late for PTA, only to let the speaker do the talking and the fingers do the walking as the bass goes bang bang. Pop is Madonna somehow being out of touch, until she picks all the fragmented pieces up and drops an album that makes everything that posed her as nonsense make sense.

The DNA sequence of mtDNA has been determined from a large number of organisms and individuals (including some organisms that are extinct), and the comparison of those DNA sequences represents a mainstay of phylogenetics, in that it allows biologists to elucidate the evolutionary relationships among species. It also permits an examination of the relatedness of populations, and so has become important in anthropology and field biology.

Madonna represents a mainstay of Pop genetics, in that she allows Popologists and culture connoisseurs to elucidate the evolutionary relationships among Pop stars. She also permits an examination of the relatedness of Pop’s sonic, aesthetic, and scene emanations, and so has become important in knowing your references – know, your, references. From the house grooves and dubstepping disco hybrid beats, to the discursive narratives tying together most all lyrical themes from the Pop toaster’s latest tarts, MDNA cohesively comes together as an allusory sonic snapshot of the past four years in Pop since last we spake with her Madgesty.

So, in a nutshell we’ve got a delicious dose of Mosaic Pop… foundation beneath fragments but the sum of the parts make the whole picture what it is. You only see the base between the cracks, but it’s that base that holds the picture together. If you want to go roll call, obviously there’s some Rihanna, some Britney and Gaga, M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj – but then again, obviously the roll sheet is written on Pop’s proverbial papyrus, which is MDNA‘s very own scribe – and the cycle continues… It’s bigger than the roll sheet though, it’s the solidification of yet another era waved out, a genesis of something polished being ushered in, or perhaps it’s the perpetuation of that cycle… the construction and blueprint, broken-down, collaged and bricolaged, only to be reformatted and reupholstered yet again.

It’s a beautiful cycle though, because that tension between the dozens of Miss Right Nows’ tracks and the Miss Four Years to Get It Right’s tracks to which they lead, make for one splendid soundtrack for those lucky mortals left out of Fame’s immediate focus.

Watch This Space: While it lasts… how fleeting the phenomenal always appears to be… and thus is the phenomenon that is the Pop scene… #whentwittermeantpoplife


  1. Madonna-give it up, you’re not in touch with the youth and the music of today….53 and trying so hard to reach this young audiance of todays popular playlist…You had your run, even if your tour sells well..ok gandma

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