Philosophy of the Arts


Madonna’s Absence

In my view, the only thing positive about Madonna’s music — apart from the financial constancy of the Madonna industry — is Madonna’s Absence. She does not sing (one assumes that she cannot), i.e. she is not present in her singing, the sounds of voices do not present themselves as produced by a singing; the music is either insignificant or stolen (but you didn’t get that from me), she doesn’t dance or you should call aerobics dancing, etc.

Listening to the music of her recent hit, 4 minutes, ft. Justin Timberlake, what we hear in the audible result, is the aerobicking Madonna. We don’t hear the singing (because there is none), we don’t hear music (because there hardly is any, or it is a forgery of Kylie Minogue tunes, like In Your Eyes). The body we hear in the sound, is the moving body of a surgically well-conversed fifty-year old woman.

What does this mean?

This is a very far stretch from what traditionally makes up the artistically meritorious individual style of a work. What does this mean? The demise of traditional aesthetic values? The demise of a traditional conception of art as the expression of its ever maker? A minor bliss in the history of music, a flawed performance? The taking over of art by industry?

Or more benignly: Is Madonna showing the last consequence of the working of this new art form of the video clip: by combining visual, and the audible into the music. Wherever we hear this video-clipped music, we hear the imagery in it. Does that require the removal of the singer?

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