Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Song Most Likely to Top Billboard's Hot 100 After Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger'

No, I'm not talking about the inanely and unoriginally titled "Give Me All Your Luvin'," by Madonna (featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.). To these ears, it's possibly the worst-ever first single from a new Madonna album (MDNA, speaking of inanely titled, due March 26), a paint-by-numbers pop song that doesn't even attempt to be groundbreaking or an essential part of the Madonna canon.

It will likely have a healthy debut on next week's Hot 100 (though not enough to beat Kelly Clarkson to the top), thanks to the double promotional shove of the video's February 3 premiere and Madonna's performance of it during tonight's Super Bowl XLVI half-time show, before embarking on a steep decline. That will open the playing field for "Somebody That I Used to Know," by Gotye featuring Kimbra, which, on the current Hot 100, jumped from No. 50 to No. 31 in its fourth chart week. (Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger [What Doesn't Kill You]," incidentally, is up six to No. 2.)

I first heard about Goyte (pronounced go-tea-YAY, as in Jean Paul Gaultier), a Belgian-born Australian singer-songwriter who's been kicking around since the beginning of the century, a few months ago when a Flemish guy I met in Bangkok sent me the link to the video, which was already a huge hit Down Under.

At the time, I didn't realize how huge. Since I've returned to Melbourne (where Gotye and his family moved when he was 2), it seems not an hour has gone by without my hearing Gotye being name-dropped on TV, in the press, or in real life. While I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the song (musically, it's intriguing, but a bit too plodding to hold my attention for its entire four-minute running time), Gotye and Kimbra nail the romantic angst of lovers turning into strangers as effectively as anyone has since Fiona Apple's "Love Ridden," though not quite as eloquently as Apple did on that standout track from 1999's When the Pawn....

"But you didn't have to cut me off / Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing... Now you're just somebody that I used to know."

Who can't relate? Well said, if not (for me) so irresistibly executed.

Getting back to Madonna, the most tragic thing about the single and video is that it means in the space of one day (February 3, also when M.I.A. released the video for "Bad Girls," the first single from her upcoming fourth album), the usually edgy and confrontational M.I.A. went from this...

 ... to basically being a head cheerleader for an artist you just know she secretly hates.

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