Dear Madonna --
Wow! I feel kinda weird writing to you under these circumstances, but what can I say? Things just haven't been right between us now for a long time. Still, don't let the headline on this post fool you into thinking this is one of those Madonna vs. Kylie type of things -- that 45 of "I Should Be So Lucky" I purchased in 1988 is my complete Kylie "collection" -- although she does factor into why I'm writing you.
You see, last Thursday I got an e-mail from a friend's production company letting me know that pre-sale tickets were going on sale for Kylie's first-ever North American tour. Out of nowhere -- and without any hesitation -- I turned to my boyfriend and said, "Oh, my god. Kylie's coming. We've GOT to get tickets!!!" I logged on and found out I needed an American Express card to get them and after striking out with my 1980s Optima card -- which I haven't used since the early 1990s but for some reason still have in my wallet for these occasions only to find out THEY don't even take it for THEIR OWN promotion! -- called my Amex-using brother Bill to see if he'd try.
SCORE! Two tickets for Night 2 at Hammerstein Ballroom! Michael and I were so excited and I went to work that night smiling ear to ear thinking what a totally fun GAY event this was going to be -- FIVE MONTHS from now! Then I e-mailed my Kylie-worshipping BFF Greg and told him he needed tell me exactly what I needed to cram for this greatest-hits-style concert. (He promptly directed me to the two-disc "Ultimate Kylie" album, which I downloaded and began playing nonstop.)
It was the next day as I was already singing along to every song like I'd known them forever that a twinge of sadness came over me as I thought about how much I missed you and wondered why I hadn't I gone to see YOU on your last FOUR tours. (Well, technically five. But the Girlie Show didn't even come through D.C.) You're the one I fell in love with as a teenager, whose debut album Greg and I bought -- along with "She's So Unusual" -- at MusicLand at Fiesta Mall in high school. You're the one I went to see repeatedly at the movies in "Desperately Seeking Susan" (and even "Who's That Girl"!). You're the one I went to see in concert three times early on. You're the one I've (repeatedly in all formats) bought every album by -- and even held onto a few singles by (moving 3,000 miles twice was not enough for me to part with that "Borderline"poster or blue vinyl "True Blue" 45!). But then I remembered why it was Kylie tickets and not yours: YOU'RE NO FUN ANYMORE. Do I really want to shell out 200 bucks to watch you do the same old hypersexual dance moves with your same old 20 mixed-race bisexual dancers (all in unison, now!) while hanging off a cross or showing some other tired "political" or otherwise "shocking" video AGAIN -- all while you REFUSE to
sing perform the songs your fans want to hear most?? (I think you know the answer.)
I got even sadder then as I almost wished I could have my Madonna memory flushed and be listening to YOUR greatest hits with virgin ears all over again instead of Kylie's. She's adorable and all, but there's no questioning your musical superiority (what I'd give to hear "Holiday," "Angel" or "Cherish" for the VERY FIRST TIME again). Yet your relentless aversion to your past has made your present someone I don't know -- and someone I don't even want to get to know.
Here's the thing, Madonna. When stars maintain their ENORMOUS FAME for as long as you have, there are really only two ways it can go. They can either become freaky caricatures of themselves (think Michael Jackson). Or, over time, they can offer a small hint of humanity to their fans, a way of letting us know that even though they're still "icons" resting on top of the world after all this time, deep down they're people too. (Cher breaking down during her eulogy at Sonny's funeral, or Steffi Graf -- whose German rigidness makes you look like a lazy Michigander -- tearing up when she won her last Grand Slam title after being injured for nearly three years both come to mind.) We GET IT that you're 50 and still can run around a stage for hours on end and jump rope like a tween. We get it that you can still "make" yourself look like you're Lourdes' younger sister. But that's not what we want from you. What we really want to see at this stage in your career is that you're a real live human being. ONE OF US! While you've certainly had your opportunities for this, somehow moments that should have made you seem more vulnerable -- being violently tossed from a horse, another divorce, this time with three young children involved -- have only made you come across colder, harder, more distant and more heartless.
So I cling to the first two WONDERFUL decades of our love affair and plead with you -- before it's entirely too late -- to take a look in the mirror and try to stop yourself from becoming Michael and Liza rolled into one. Here's a thought: Enough with the kabbalah bullshit (you're a lapsed Roman Catholic from Michigan, for crying out loud, although I guess I should be thankful you're not a Scientologist). Enough with the plastic surgery (I only have room for one of THOSE divas in my stable and Cher's got you beat by ages!). Enough with the human growth hormone (it can't be good for your body long-term and the leanness it enables you to achieve just makes your plastic surgery look more fake). Enough with the "youth" clothing schemes (H&M and Ed Hardy???). And most importantly, enough with the desperate musical collaborations with [FILL IN WHAT'S TRENDY AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT HERE]. (Justin Timberlake? REALLY????) Instead, why not show us you have a soft side and give your fans what we want for a change? I know you're working on some tracks for yet another greatest hits album (I won't even mention the fact that you've only had four minor Top 40 hits since your last collection, and I'm counting the No. 37 "smash" "American Life"). Instead of jumping into bed with the latest producer du jour, how about giving your old pals Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard a call and coming up with something -- well, GREAT again? You know, just like you used to do -- all the time. (Oh, and a successful battle with breast cancer wouldn't hurt you in the likability department either, not that I'd wish that on anyone.)
In the meantime, I'm REALLY excited about this Kylie show (and I didn't even have to sell a kidney to get tickets!). Songs like "Love at First Sight," "Come Into My World," "Red Blooded Woman," "Giving You Up" and "Slow" almost act as a replacement for all of the fun music you should have been recording instead of much of "Music" and "Confessions on a Dance Floor" (did you really have to subject us to "Isaac"?!) and MOST of "American Life" and "Hard Candy" (some of that one is truly intolerable.) And just try to tell me you're not green with envy over "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head"?!
Sure, it may feel like love don't live here anymore. But it wouldn't take much to bring it back. Meanwhile, all you Kylie fans can tell me what I'm missing out on by only having her greatest hits album. I might even take your advice as I doubt you-know-who will be taking mine.
Kenneth in the TWO-WON-TOO
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Dear Madonna --