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The Madonna Timeline: Song #122 – ‘Autotune Baby’ – Late winter 2015

{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

Madonna’s B-sides and Bonus Tracks have only gotten better over the years (see ‘I Fucked Up‘, ‘Super Pop’ and ‘Beautiful Killer.’) This Madonna timeline selection – ‘Autotune Baby’ – is one of the best, wrapped in an annoying baby gimmick that almost – almost – ruins the whole beautiful affair. But I guess babies tend to do that, so we will make do. It’s a bonus track from the excellent ‘Rebel Heart’ album, and got lost in that release’s mad shuffle.

I TOLD YOU I DON’T WANT YOU ALL THE TIME CAUSE YOU’RE NOT MINE

I’M NOT IN LOVE BUT I’M IN LIKE, SO FAR IT’S WORKING FINE. 

BUT WHEN I NEED YOU THEN I’M DESPERATE,  I’M A LITTLE CHILD

JUST LIKE AN ANIMAL, DOWN ON MY KNEES AND BEGGING…

She’s employed the baby thing once in the past – in an unobtrusive bit of recorded laughter reportedly by Pat Leonard’s daughter in ‘Dear Jessie‘. That one was forgivable given the whimsical childhood fantasy of the song. This time around, an annoying child’s cry is used, distorted, and turned into a jarring musical recurrence.

YEAH, ALL WRAPPED UP, I WANNA BE YOUR LITTLE BABY NOW

PUT MY HEAD ON YOUR SHOULDER, YOU CAN ROCK ME, ROCK ME NOW

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT YOU CAN HEAR ME CRYING LOUD

PUT MY HEAD ON YOUR SHOULDER AND ROCK ME.

On repeated listens, however, it becomes an integral part of the song. Not that it isn’t for a moment anything less than grossly agitating, but there’s a useful purpose for it. That bothersome grating on the ears actually makes the chorus, when it arrives, that much sweeter. And what a gorgeous chorus it is – probably one of her best in a long time. Such a shame it had to be bound with the baby.

OPEN THE DOOR, UNLOCK ME

WE’VE GOT TONIGHT, SO ROCK ME NOW.

Lyrically it’s a casual relationship gone obsessive, a sweet love song surrounded by emotionally sadomasochistic tension. The push and pull of power and weakness, of domination and subjugation, of love and hate – it finds fruitful musical resolution in the chorus. (Again, this could have been one of the great ones were it not for that damn baby.)

I’M IN MY BED AND I’M OBSESSED AND LYING WIDE AWAKE

I NEED SOMEONE LIKE YOU TO COME AND PUT ME IN MY PLACE

CAUSE IN THE DAY I CAN’T BE TAMED, BOY YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW

BUT IN THE NIGHT MY HANDS ARE TIED, YOU TELL ME WHERE TO GO.

It’s a fuck you/fuck me lullaby, filled with barbed sweetness and poisoned candy. We all want to be so strong in the light of day. We wrap ourselves in armor and pretend that we don’t need anyone, that we are not dependent or needy creatures. Nobody wants to be the weak one.

YEAH, ALL WRAPPED UP, I WANNA BE YOUR LITTLE BABY NOW

PUT MY HEAD ON YOUR SHOULDER, YOU CAN ROCK ME, ROCK ME NOW

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT YOU CAN HEAR ME CRYING LOUD

PUT MY HEAD ON YOUR SHOULDER AND ROCK ME.

Once the night falls, however, most of us just want to be held. Rocked gently to sleep. Comforted and wrapped in loving arms. We aren’t supposed to admit it, but there it is. From the moment we enter this cold world, we just want to be loved.

OPEN THE DOOR, UNLOCK ME

WE’VE GOT TONIGHT SO ROCK ME

OPEN THE DOOR, UNLOCK ME

WE’VE GOT TONIGHT SO ROCK ME NOW.

{I just can’t get over the damn autotune baby. I tried, but I can’t.}

ROCK ME NOW… ROCK ME NOW.

SONG #122 – ‘Autotune Baby’ – Late Winter 2015

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