The Madonna Timeline: Song #127 – ‘S.E.X.’ – Spring 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.}

When you read my mind, get down and discover me
I’m an open door, let you come inside of me
Wanna put my hands around your neck
Gonna take you to a place that you will not forget

Sex, what you know about sex?
Tell me what you know about sex
Sex, what you know about sex?

Welcome back, Dita. When the world is telling you to shut up about sex, Madonna does what she has always done: talk about sex. While she may never scale the provocative heights of the ‘Erotica’/’Sex’ era of 1992, she continues to be as genuinely controversial as ever, only now it has a deeper, if less pervading, resonance. By simply living her life as a fifty-something woman who still gets turned on by the notion of sex, Madonna is crafting what may be her most shocking reinvention yet. And it ruffles the feathers of a bird that should no longer be quite so bothered by the ruffling.

Madonna and Sex go way back. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship from which each has benefitted in some way. Madonna gets the attention and controversy; Sex gets the promotion and demystification. From the heady days of ‘Like A Virgin’ to the ‘down on my knees’ double-entendre of ‘Like A Prayer,’ Madonna has sprinkled sexual references overt and subtle into just about everything she has done. There was ‘Justify My Love,’ there was ‘Girl Gone Wild,’ and there was ‘Erotica.’ Even in more somber works such as ‘Bad Girl’ and ‘Rain’ there is an element of the sexual.

As for this blatant and blunt cut from the deluxe version of ‘Rebel Heart,’ Madonna re-treads her exciting titillation of the early 90’s, but it’s a saucy echo more than anything with substantial ‘raw meat’ on its bones. The strange thing about ‘S.E.X.’ is that it actually sounds a bit like the bad reviews of ‘Erotica’ from 1992. Back then, Madonna was accused of being cold and remote, and the entire ‘Erotica’ album was maligned as a clinical examination of the topic rather than the brittle musical essay of wanting to connect on a deeper level. On ‘Rebel Heart’ there are sexier and more erotic themes that piggy-back on love in songs like ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Ghosttown’ which means that something like ‘S.E.X.’ pales in comparison.

That’s not to say that this track is wholly without spark. When Madonna ticks off a list of fetishes, it’s equally hilarious and erotic, and if there’s one thing that most of her critics miss it’s Madonna’s acknowledgement that there is not only fun to be had in sex, but humor as well.

Twisted rope, hand cuffs
Blindfold, strings of pearls
Necktie, silk scarf
Silver chains, pretty girls
Thigh highs, feather masks
High heels, gold damask
Perfume, switchblade
Absinthe, Novocaine

Chopsticks, underwear
Bar of soap, dental chair
Fishnets, satin sheets
Garter belt, raw meat
Candlelight, key hole
Leather belt, mink stole
Golden shower, latex thong
Licorice whips, strap it on

Like the act itself, ‘S.E.X.’ the song is a bit messy, but even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

A lesson in sexology, indeed.

SONG #127 – ‘S.E.X.’ – Spring 2015

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