Damn it, Madonna’s done it again. She pulled a stunt so profoundly baffling and blatantly attention seeking that I couldn’t ignore it. She wriggled her way into my brain space and forced me to think about her long enough that it warranted the devotion of an entire column. As much as I may not like it, I have to admit the woman’s good at playing this game of pop culture relevancy tug-of-war.
At a music festival like Coachella, where you’re competing with acts such as Kimbra and Marina and the Diamonds, you’ll do whatever you can to appear as the most cutting edge performer in a lineup dripping with hot stars. Everyone is trying to find the most dazzling spectacle to grab the attention of the world. And while some may be able to intrigue us for a moment, Madonna has years (possibly hundreds) of experience with attention-seeking stunts. Bonus points to her for stealing the show when it wasn’t even her performance. She managed to steal all the headlines at an event so massive, you typically have to be a resurrected hologram in order to grab anyone’s sustained attention.
During Drake’s performance Sunday night at Coachella, he invited Madonna to join him on stage to help him sing his not-so-subtley-titled song, “Madonna.” This was followed by a performance of various tracks from her most recent album, Rebel Heart – I’m assuming Madonna refused to leave the stage until she was allowed to sing a minimum of three songs. At the end of her appearance, Madonna slinked over to Drake, yanked his head back in some sort of misguided attempt to appear seductively dominant and leaned in for a kiss.
Incredibly bizarre and far from sexy, the entire spectacle has left me a bit uneasy. At the end of the kiss (if you can even call it that), Drake falls forward and half laughs as he gasps for air and cries “What the fuck?!” I can’t blame him. My worst high school makeout fails don’t come anywhere close to that overzealous slobber session, and thankfully most of mine took place in private, where I could hide my shame.
But it wasn’t just the hormonal horror of the kiss that distressed me. When you really look hard at the video, you can see that something is desperately wrong. Drake quickly switches from trying to vibe with the situation to wildly flailing his arms and struggling for freedom. Madonna continues, completely unphased by the man fighting for his life underneath her. It seems like a regular Sunday night for the legendary singer.
After contemplating the event, I’ve come up with more questions than answers. Why would Madonna throw down Drake’s hand when he attempted to embrace her? Did Madonna see Drake flapping his arms as a signal for help? Was Drake signaling for help?
There is only one possible explanation for the bizarre oral assault – this not a kiss, but rather her most recent attempt to steal the youthful glow of a young, hot pop star. We’ve seen it before with Britney Spears at the 2003 VMAs. Only a year after the kiss, Britney started dating K-fed and her life took a several years long tailspin (that has thankfully improved in recent years). Madonna, on the other hand, enjoyed a high voltage jumpstart to her career and the titillating murmurs of bicurious tendencies.
It would seem that Madonna would need an ever-increasing supply of pretty young things in order to sustain her luster. Miley Cyrus was delighted to spank her during her unplugged performance, but perhaps the stunt had a more insidious undertone. Could it have been Madonna’s sneaky way to attain some of Miley’s youthful glow? Does she simply require body-to-body contact of any sort in order to maintain her life force for short bursts of time?
And of course there is the question of the disappearing one hit wonders. I am ecstatic to see that Carly Rae Jepsen is back on the scene with another super peppy ear worm – but what of the others who have fallen from the billboard 100 over the years? Has Madonna taken a page from the book of Elizabeth Bathory, bathing in the blood of teeny boppers in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles? Is she to blame for the disappearance of S Club 7?
Madonna stomped off stage more confident and alive than when she entered. Drake, on the other hand, couldn’t decide whether wanted to laugh, curse or cry. For now, it seems he has managed to recover his spirit and regain his humanity. But how long before she strikes again? Will Drake be forever looking over his shoulder, scared that he may be the victim of another soul-sucking attack?
If that is the world we are leaving for Drake, I’m not sure I want to live in it.
Molly Regan is an improviser and writer in Baltimore. She likes chicken pot pie, Adam Scott’s butt and riot grrl.