She's Madonna

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"She's Madonna"
Robbie She's Madonna.jpg
Single by Robbie Williams featuring Pet Shop Boys
from the album Rudebox
B-side "Never Touch That Switch"
Released 5 March 2007
Format
Genre Pop
Length 4:16
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Pet Shop Boys
Robbie Williams singles chronology
"Bongo Bong and Je ne t'aime plus"
(2007)
"She's Madonna"
(2007)
"Close My Eyes"
(2009)
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Numb"
(2006)
"She's Madonna"
(2007)
"Integral"
(2007)
Music video
"She's Madonna" on YouTube

"She's Madonna" is a song recorded by British singer Robbie Williams, featuring Pet Shop Boys, for his seventh studio album Rudebox. It was released as the third and final international single released from the album on 5 March 2007 by Chrysalis Records. The subject matter of the song is a reference to the conversation Williams had with his ex-girlfriend Tania Strecker over the reason her former boyfriend Guy Ritchie gave for leaving her for American singer Madonna. Williams had played the song to Madonna shortly after writing it, receiving a positive reaction.

Musically the song was inspired by Kraftwerk's 1983 single, "Tour de France". The composition consists of a "gurgling" electro backing, over which Williams sings the lyrics, talking about his fascination with Madonna. It received positive feedback for its musical aspects and the production by Pet Shop Boys. The song had minor chart placement in Williams' home turf United Kingdom, but reached the top-five of the record charts in many European nations, attaining gold certifications in Denmark and Germany.

A music video of the track was released, directed by Johan Renck whose main inspiration behind it was to portray the paranoia one faces onstage. It features a plethora of well-known drag queens, and showed Williams himself in full drag queen regalia. The video received mostly negative reception from critics.

Background[edit]

"She's Madonna" was a collaboration between Williams and Pet Shop Boys and was the fifth and final single from Williams' seventh studio album, Rudebox. By the time the single was supposed to be released, Williams had just come out from rehab following his addiction problems. "She's Madonna" was inspired by a conversation Williams had with his ex-girlfriend Tania Strecker.[1] She told the story of how her boyfriend, British director Guy Ritchie, left her for American singer Madonna. Strecker quoted Ritchie as saying, "Look, you know I really love you, but she's Madonna."[1] Williams considered the song to be one of Rudebox's lighter moments, commenting: "There is nothing tongue in cheek about this song at all... I have always fancied Madonna. I'd have hoped for it to be this good, but you can never tell before venturing into the studio. It is just a bonus that it worked out so well."[2] According to Contactmusic.com, Williams had played the song to Madonna shortly after writing it, receiving a positive reaction.[3]

Composition[edit]

Inspiration for "She's Madonna" came from Kraftwerk's 1983 single, "Tour de France"

Musically, the song was inspired by Kraftwerk's 1983 single, "Tour de France". Williams stated: "My life seems to be like a never ending edition of Jim'll Fix It. I am truly blessed. The odds of Robbie Williams making a ninth album ten years ago would have been more than long against. To be writing this album and having my heroes work with me feels phenomenal." After playing "Tour de France" Williams asked Pet Shop Boys if they can include something inline in "She's Madonna" and the song was composed.[4] The track starts with a "gurgling" electro backing over which Williams sings the lyrics, talking about his fascination with Madonna, which goes like "We're having drinks with Kate and Stella, Gwyneth's here and she's brought her fella".[5] Michael Hubbard from musicOMH described the lyrics as a "wannabe anthem/love letter" to Madonna.[6]

According to the sheet music of the song, it is composed in common time with a temp of 124 beats per minute. Williams' vocals range from C4 to G5 and the song has a s basic sequence of F–A–Gm7–C as the chord progression.[7] "She's Madonna" was the subject of a controversy after singer Ashley Hamilton claimed that he came up with part of the song with Williams.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

"She's Madonna" was released in the United Kingdom on 5 March 2007.[9] Nick Levine from Digital Spy awarded it three out of five stars noting that the track was a kind of "damage control" for Williams' fallen public image following his rehabilitation. "Who'd have guessed he'd sound so comfortable—his most convincing in years, actually—singing about one of the few people in the world who's more famous than him [Madonna]?" Levine concluded.[5] Alexis Petridis from The Guardian described the track as a "brilliant, icy meditation on fame's corrupting power".[10] NME's Priya Elan listed "She's Madonna" as one of Williams' most "bonkers song ever", along with three other songs from Rudebox: "The 80's", "The 90's" and "The Actor".[11] Hubbard explained that the Pet Shop Boys brought an "added spray of sheen to the glacially excellent" song, and working with them brought some "credibility" to it.[6] Julie Broadfoot from BBC Music described "She's Madonna" as a "weird but fun tune".[12] Lauren Murphy from Entertainment.ie noted that the Pet Shop Boys own musical influence was prevalent in the track, with its "sparse, spacey glow and not least on synth-laden tongue-in-cheek homage" of the song.[13]

In an overall negative review for Rudebox, Ed Power from Hot Press magazine wrote that it was not until as the "album lurches towards its midpoint does some calm descend. 'She's Madonna', coasting on a glossy Pet Shop Boys production job, is a misty eyed ballad in the tradition of Williams' finest—i.e. slushiest—work".[14] The song received negative review from David Hutchison of Attitude magazine, during a retrospective review for the album. He theorized that Williams' random choice of cover version of songs gave it a feeling of being an old mixtape. This was vividly noticeable in the "outrageous break-up fantasy played out over icy synths and euphoric hand-claps" of "She's Madonna".[15]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United Kingdom, "She's Madonna" debuted outside the top-ten of the UK Singles Chart, at number 16. It was Williams' lowest peaking single since "Sin Sin Sin" (2006) peaked at number 22. "She's Madonna" quickly descended down the charts, being present only for three weeks in total.[9] It had a better chart placement in Scotland where it entered the top-ten at number 9.[16] In Ireland it debuted at number 38 and was present only for one week on the chart.[17]

Across Europe the song had better chart placements, and reached the top-five of the charts in Belgium (Flanders), Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, remaining on the chart for multiple weeks.[18] It received gold certification from Denmark and Germany, for shipment of 15,000 and 150,000 copies of the single respectively.[19][20] Although the song was not released in the United States, promotional CDs were sent to DJs and hence the song charted on Billboard magazine's Dance Club Songs chart, reaching a peak of number 12.[21]

Music video[edit]

Alexis Arquette appeared as one of the drag queens in the video

The music video for "She's Madonna" was shot in Los Angeles during a break from his Close Encounters Tour, and features Williams as a professional drag queen in full regalia, as well as performing with drag queens in a nightclub, dressed in a white jacket.[22] His hairstyle and the wig was compared to those of Lily Allen and Uma Thurman's wig in the film Pulp Fiction (1994).[23] Alexis Arquette appeared as one of the drag queens, along with RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Tammie Brown.[22][24] The video was directed by Johan Renck, who had previously directed the music videos for Madonna's "Nothing Really Matters" in 1999 and "Hung Up" in 2005.[22] Despite media speculation, Williams did not imitate Madonna in the video, nor did she appear in it.[25]

Renck explained that the main inspiration behind the video was to portray the paranoia one faces onstage. "With a past as a musician, I remember sometimes feeling like the audience was against me while I was on stage... Even if that wasn't noticeable in any way, I still felt as if they all disliked me, or at least, misunderstood me, deep inside. That paranoia was kind of firmly rooted inside of me—the fear of being the wrong artist in front of the wrong audience. Thus, the idea for 'She's Madonna' deals with that," he clarified.[26]

The video opens with an interview with Williams, where he is asked about his real persona and his stage one. Then it cuts to him dressing up in a suit and going onstage to sing the song, in front of an audience of drag queens. Thomas Rogers from Salon criticized the video for portraying drag queens like "patients in a mental ward" as well as the interview sequence, which he felt equated drag queens as people with multiple personality disorder.[27] A writer for Metro questioned "Is Robbie trying to send us a message? Or has he just got extremely carried away playing dress up in his mother's wardrobe."[23]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Robbie Williams – singing, songwriter
  • Neil Tennant – songwriter, producer
  • Chris Lowe – songwriter, producer
  • Tim Weidner – audio mixing
  • Chris Lake – remix and additional production
  • Kris Menace – remix and additional production
  • Johny Buzzerio – cover photography

Credits adapted from Robbie Williams' official website.[2]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[19] Gold 7,500^
Germany (BVMI)[20] Gold 150,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Scott, Paul (2011). Robbie and Gary: – It's Complicated – The Unauthorised Biography. Pan Macmillan. p. 210. ISBN 9780283071560. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "She's Madonna: Robbie Williams Discography". Official website of Robbie Williams. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Williams Worried About Madonna Tribute". Contactmusic.com. 15 July 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "Rudebox: Robbie Williams Track by Track". Official website of Robbie Williams. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Levine, Nick (5 March 2007). "Robbie Williams: 'She's Madonna'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Hubbard, Michael (23 October 2006). "Robbie Williams – Rudebox". musicOMH. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Robbie Williams: She's Madonna: Piano, Vocal, Guitar". Sheet Music Direct. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Cummins, Fiona; Simpson, Eva (14 February 2007). "Torment of Robbie". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c "Robbie Williams: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  10. ^ Petridis, Alexis (20 October 2006). "Robbie Williams, Rudebox". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Elan, Priya (23 October 2006). "Robbie Williams: Rudebox". NME. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  12. ^ Broadfoot, Julie (23 October 2006). "Robbie Williams Rudebox Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Murphy, Lauren (23 November 2006). "Robbie Williams – Rudebox". Entertainment.ie. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  14. ^ Power, Ed (27 October 2006). "Rudebox: Robbie Williams' seventh album is everything a pop record should not be". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  15. ^ Hutchison, David (23 August 2014). "Shoulda been huge: Robbie Williams' 'Rudebox'". Attitude. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  16. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2007-03-17". Scottish Singles Top 40. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Chart Track: Week 10, 2007". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
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  19. ^ a b "Danish single certifications – Robbie Williams – She's Madonna". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved 30 November 2015.  Click on næste to go to page 28 if certification from official website
  20. ^ a b "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Robbie Williams; 'She's Madonna')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
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  22. ^ a b c Newton, Victoria (16 January 2007). "Robbie's frocky horror show". The Sun. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "Robbie's new video is a real drag". Metro. 5 June 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  24. ^ "About Tammie". TammieBrown.net. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
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  26. ^ "She's Madonna: Music Video". Official website of Robbie Williams. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  27. ^ Rogers, Thomas (5 June 2007). "Music Videos: 'Listen Up!' the Gossip; 'She's Madonna', Robbie Williams". Salon. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
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  30. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 200716 into search. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
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  32. ^ "Robbie Williams – Chart history" European Hot 100 for Robbie Williams. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  33. ^ "Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys: She's Madonna" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
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  36. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys – She's Madonna". Top Digital Download. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  37. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 03-11 2016.
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  39. ^ "Roamian Top 100" (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100. 23 May 2007. Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. 
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  41. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys – She's Madonna". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  42. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys – She's Madonna". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
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External links[edit]