Gang Bang (song)

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"Gang Bang"
Song by Madonna from the album MDNA
Recorded 2011
Los Angeles, California
(3:20 Studios)
New York, New York
(MSR Studios)
Genre Dance, electronic
Length 5:26
Label
Writer
Producer
MDNA track listing
"Girl Gone Wild"
(1)
"Gang Bang"
(2)
"I'm Addicted"
(3)
For songs by other artists, see Gang bang (disambiguation).

"Gang Bang" is a song by American singer-songwriter Madonna, from her twelfth studio album MDNA, which was released on March 23, 2012.[1] It was written by Madonna, Mika, William Orbit, Priscilla Hamilton, Keith Harris, Jean-Baptiste, Don Juan "Demo" Casanova, and produced by Madonna, Orbit and The Demolition Crew. Madonna has cited American director Quentin Tarantino as an inspiration for the song, revealing that she wanted him as the director for the song's music video.

A dance-oriented song, it lyrically portrays a scorned woman seeking revenge on her lover. Police sirens, whispered vocals, throbbing beats and a dubstep breakdown provide the song with a suspense-filled atmosphere. The song received critical acclaim, most calling it a highlight of the album and also the boldest track of the album.[2] Some even hailed it as one of Madonna's best songs.

Although not released as a single, the song has charted on the French Singles Chart[3] and the Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart,[4] due to strong digital downloads of the parent album. Madonna performed the song on her 2012 MDNA Tour, in a motel setting where she is seen shooting the male dancers who infiltrate her room with blood being splattered on the backdrop. The performance was heavily criticised by the use of guns, but it received favorable reviews from critics.

Background and inspiration[edit]

Madonna wrote the song with the American film director Quentin Tarantino on her mind to direct a video for it.

While working on her then-upcoming album, Madonna enlisted William Orbit to work with her again; Orbit has worked with Madonna in some of her albums, producing the hits "Ray of Light", "Frozen", "Beautiful Stranger", among others.[5] The singer confessed, "Magic happens when we get into a recording studio together."[5] Orbit insisted that despite the flurry of pop music floating around these days, they didn't give much thought to the music on Top 40 radio. Instead, they focused on their own music and the bubble of creativity they were living in. Orbit also revealed, "We liked what we're doing in this current time and space," he continued. "What we tended to do was watch old French films from the '60s or listen to music that was so far away that it wasn't, in any way, relevant."[6]

Among the songs recorded for the album, "Gang Bang" was confirmed to be part of the track listing. On March 8, the singer and co-writer of the track, Mika, tweeted that it was "weird as fuck, underground and lyrically cool; it's amazing and bizarre. I love it, she sounds so good singing words so harsh."[7] The same day, a snippet of the track was released.[8] Orbit also commented about the song's dark tone and lyrics:

"[It's] aggressive". "It's like she sang that off the bat. I mean that. She created it in the moment. And the lyrics were all there, but I think she fell into a character. It was actually a good day. It wasn't a dark day. There wasn't like aggression in the air. The demo created out of the blue pretty much. She loved the spirit of it. We were all dancing around the control room. ... It was a total atmosphere of spontaneity. Pretty good fun, but it's dark."[9]

Madonna has also said that she wrote the song with Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino in mind, saying, "That's who I was thinking about when I was writing the song. I was picturing one of his movies, and one of the female characters. I have a whole thing worked out. All Quentin has to do is show up with a camera. I can't afford a director's fee."[10] However, when asked about the video, Tarantino said, "I don’t know. I’ve been asked to direct commercials and music videos, Madonna and Jay-Z wanted me to direct their videos, but I refused. I’m not interested, just as I’m not interested in commercials. If it’s not to make movies, I don’t want to be on set."[11]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

A 30 second sample of "Gang Bang", which music critics acclaimed for its lyrics and experimental sounds.[2][7]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Gang Bang" was written by Madonna, William Orbit, Priscilla Hamilton, Keith Harris, Jean-Baptiste, Mika, Don Juan "Demo" Casanova, and produced by Madonna, Orbit and The Demolition Crew.[12] It is the longest song on the album, lasting for 5 minutes and 26 seconds.[12] Lyrically, it follows a woman getting her cronies together to seek bloody vengeance against someone,[9] with the singer declaring, "Shot you dead, shot my lover in the head... I'm going straight to hell... I've got a lot of friends there," before yelling, "Drive bitch, die bitch!".[8] It ends with the line: "If you're going to [act] like a bitch then you're going to die like a bitch."[13] According to MTV News's Bradley Stern, the song "revisits the role of the scorned songstress from Erotica '​s 'Thief of Hearts' (1992)."[14]

The song is a dark dance, electronic song, with a dubstep breakdown[7] and industrial-tinged beats.[13] Michael Cragg from The Guardian commented about the dub-step, writing that "it recalls her American Life album in its slightly uneasy marrying of genres, with a sudden dubstep breakdown its most obvious detour."[13] Amy Sciarretto from "Pop Crush" wrote that "the beats build and the synths sound like a whip cracking in the background, dominatrix style."[15] X. Alender from Idolator thought that the song "gives us a flashback to her under-appreciated Celebration collaboration with Lil' Wayne, "Revolver" (2009).[16]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The song received general critical acclaim. While reviewing the album, Amy Sciarretto of Pop Crush, wrote that the song is "another sexy song that has a darker hue, it's ripe for dancing in the corner of a dark club somewhere in Europe.[17] Michael Cragg of The Guardian wrote that it is "a ridiculous collection of sound effects (police sirens, gunshots) and imposing menace that's actually pretty fun in a kind of slightly unhinged way."[13] Neil McCormick of The Telegraph wrote that the song is "a solid techno groove and one of the album's odder and most interesting tracks."[18] Bradley Stern of MTV News commented that the song "is not only the highlight of the record, but a highlight of Madonna's career."[14] Matthew Perpetua of Pitchfork Media wrote that "it's the album's boldest, most experimental track, and it's marred only by a just-off vocal performance that renders her very familiar voice a bit anonymous, and a halfhearted attempt at a dub-step bass drop."[2] Nick Levine of BBC Music called it "a preposterous piece of pop schlock."[19]

Priya Elan of NME wrote that "the music is cold and minimal, recalling the grubby house beats of  '​Erotica '​, and Madge bleats on like some antagonistic disco Fury driven to the edge by her thirst for vengeance. And gosh, it's thrilling stuff."[20] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called it "a standout cut in which Madonna quite convincingly portrays a jilted bride turned femme fatale in the vein of Beatrix Kiddo," writing that it "plays more like a piss take of Ritchie's gangster fetish than a glorification of it."[21] Melinda Newman of HitFix called it "one of the most compelling tracks, with Madonna singing in a low whispery register, detailing that she’s shot her lover dead in the head and, furthermore, she has no regrets. It’s violent and explicit and it’s what Madonna used to represent: a sense of danger."[22] Jim Farber of New York Daily News called it "historic" and "may be the world’s first murder-ballad-as-disco song."[23]

Chart performance[edit]

Although it has not been released as a single, "Gang Bang" entered some record charts due to strong digital downloads of MDNA. It entered the French Singles Chart at number 93 for issue date of March 31, 2012.[3] In the United States, the song charted on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs at number 30.[4] In South Korea, the song debuted at number 90 on the Gaon International Downloads Chart with sales of 3,653 copies.[24]

Live performance and controversy[edit]

"It's true there is a lot of violence in the beginning of the show and sometimes the use of fake guns – but they are used as metaphors. [...] When you watch a film there are usually good guys and bad guys to help illustrate this point, Sometimes I play both. I enjoy acting out this journey."

— Madonna talking about the use of fake guns in "Gang Bang".[25]

"Gang Bang" was added to the setlist of The MDNA Tour (2012), and performed as the third song.[26] In the performance, Madonna attacks several of her dancers with a fake gun in a moving "Paradise Motel", as blood spattered in the backdrop screens.[27] The performance was condemned by groups like Mothers Against Guns, who said the singer should "know better." Audience member reactions were pretty severe, with one commenting, "We're dancing and all of a sudden people started realizing what the song was," said concert-goer Aaron Fransua, 25, who was in section 120. "We all just stood there. Everybody who was around me all had shock on their face. I heard a lot of `wows,'" Fransua said. A member of her tour staff told The Huffington Post that "Madonna would rather cancel her show than censor her art. Her entire career, she has fought against people telling her what she can and cannot do. She's not about to start listening to them now."[28] Madonna herself explained the use of guns in a letter, saying,

"I do not condone violence or the use of guns," she wrote. "Rather they are symbols of wanting to appear strong and wanting to find a way to stop feelings that I find hurtful or damaging. In my case I want to stop the lies and hypocrisy of the church, the intolerance of many narrow minded cultures and societies I have experienced throughout my life and in some cases the pain I have felt from having my heart broken."[29]

She further commented about the controversy in an interview for Good Morning America, saying that she won't take the weapons of the performance, "That would be like asking people to not have guns in action movies," said. "I mean, the thing is, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That whole first section of the show is like an action movie, and I was playing a supervixen who wanted revenge."[30]

Madonna performing "Gang Bang" during The MDNA Tour in 2012.

While reviewing the MDNA World Tour DVD, Arnold Wayne Jones of the Dallas Voice wrote that the "blood-spattering projections during 'Bang Bang,' Madonna reminds us why we’ve followed her machinations for nearly 30 years."[31] Entertainment Focus '​ criticized who complained about the violence on the performance, writing that, "This is a Madonna show and she’s nearly been anything less than ballsy."[32] Jim Farber of New York Daily News wrote that the song "could be history’s first disco murder ballad," saying that in the performance, "Madonna blows away an army of intruders with enough relish to secure a starring role in the next Quentin Tarantino gorefest."[33]

Saeed Saeed of The National agreed, calling the performance, "a Quentin Tarantino revenge romp."[34] Glenn Gamboa of Newsday called it "a season of 'Dexter' condensed into five minutes, complete with blood splatters on the massive video screens."[35] Mario Tarradell of The Dallas Morning News wrote that the performance "was all perfectly staged, and it had a clear message: Madonna will not be hindered."[36] Andrew Matson of The Seattle Times wrote "the violence was so over the top, it overshadowed the rest of the show."[37][38]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
French Singles Chart[3] 93
South Korean International Downloads Chart[24] 90
US Hot Dance/Electronic Digital Songs[4] 30

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MDNA (Deluxe Edition)". Amazon.de. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  2. ^ a b c Perpetua, Matthew (March 26, 2012). "Madonna: MDNA". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  3. ^ a b c "Lescharts.com - Madonna - Gang Bang". Les Charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Gang Bang - Madonna | Billboard.com". Billboard (magazine). Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (January 26, 2012). "Madonna Made 'Magic' With William Orbit On M.D.N.A.". MTV News. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (March 27, 2012). "Madonna Rocked To Kreayshawn, French Films Making MDNA". MTV News. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Caulfield, Keith (March 9, 2012). "Madonna, 'MDNA': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Bein, Becky (March 2, 2012). "Madonna’s First ‘MDNA’ Review: "This Is A Dark Album"". Idolator. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (March 26, 2012). "Madonna Proclaims 'Queen Bitch' Status On MDNA". MTV News. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Madonna Wants Tarantino For 'Gang Bang' Video". MTV News. March 26, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  11. ^ "In Brief: Quentin Tarantino, Prince, Carly Rae Jepsen, DJ Alesso, Hard Candy, Marlon Brando and more". Madonnarama. January 23, 2013. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b MDNA (liner notes). Madonna. Interscope Records. 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d Cragg, Michael (March 7, 2012). "First listen: Madonna's MDNA". The Guardian. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Stern, Bradley (March 26, 2012). "'MDNA' Track-By-Track Review: A Cheat Sheet To Madonna's New Album". MTV News. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ Sciarretto, Amy (March 8, 2012). "Snippet of Madonna's 'Gang Bang' Leaks". PopCrush. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ Alexander, X. (March 8, 2012). "Madonna’s “Gang Bang”: Hear A Preview". Idolator. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  17. ^ Sciarretto, Amy. "Madonna, ‘MDNA’ – Album Review". PopCrush. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  18. ^ McCormick, Neil (March 7, 2012). "Madonna's new album MDNA: track-by-track review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  19. ^ Levine, Nick (March 21, 2012). "Review of Madonna – MDNA". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  20. ^ Elan, Priya (March 23, 2012). "Album Reviews – Madonna – 'MDNA'". NME (IPC Media). Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  21. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (March 21, 2012). "Madonna: MDNA". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  22. ^ Newman, Melinda (March 23, 2012). "Album Review: Madonna finds beauty in the beat on 'MDNA'". HitFix. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  23. ^ Farber, Jim (March 25, 2012). "'MDNA,' Madonna's great new CD, is an exhilarating return to her pop-dance past". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b 가온차트와 함께하세요 (in Korean). Gaon Chart. 2012-04-05. Archived from the original on 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  25. ^ "Madonna: Fake Guns, Violence on MDNA Tour Are Symbols". Rolling Stone. August 28, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  26. ^ Newman, Jason (2012-05-31). "Madonna Disses Lady Gaga, Preaches Peace in MDNA Tour Kickoff". Fuse TV. Madison Square Garden, Inc. Archived from the original on 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  27. ^ Jordan Levin (November 20, 2012). "Madonna MDNA show in Miami". Miami.com. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Madonna & Guns: Denver Concert Begins With Fake Gunplay, Angering Fans (UPDATED)". Huffington Post. March 26, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  29. ^ Gicas, Peter (August 28, 2012). "Madonna Defends Using Swastika and Guns on Tour in New Manifesto". E! Online. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  30. ^ Chumley, Cheryl (June 24, 2013). "Madonna shocker: ‘Guns don’t kill people; people kill people’". Washington Times. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  31. ^ Wayne Jones, Arnold (September 13, 2013). "Uh,oh, it's Madge-ic". Dallas Voice. Voice Publishing Company, Inc. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  32. ^ Ellwood, Pip (September 12, 2013). "Madonna – MDNA World Tour review". Entertainment Focus. Little Pip Digital Ltd. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  33. ^ Farber, Jim (August 29, 2013). "Madonna expresses herself, often darkly, in powerful Philadelphia show". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  34. ^ Saeed, Saeed (June 4, 2012). "MDNA audience bears witness to Madonna's inner turmoil". The National. Mubadala Development Company. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  35. ^ Glenn Gamboa (August 29, 2012). "Madonna MDNA tour in Philadelphia is transformative". Newsday". Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  36. ^ Mario Tarradell (October 22, 2012). "Madonna examines religious extremes, turns political and sings with a vengeance during sold-out American Airlines Center concert". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved October 27, 2012. 
  37. ^ Andrew Matson (October 3, 2012). "Madonna "kills" at KeyArena". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  38. ^ Sharon Pian Chan (October 3, 2012). "Madonna rocked us as a feminist icon at KeyArena". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 4, 2012.