The Madonna Timeline: Song #84 – ‘Candy Shop’ – Spring 2008

{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.}

See what flavor you like and I’ll have it for you,
Come on into my store, I got candy galore
Don’t pretend you’re not hungry, I’ve seen it before
I got Turkish delight, baby and so much more.

We need a little levity of late – things have gotten decidedly too dour and dreary, even if we are ensconced in the midst of winter. To that end, the iPod has shifted to ‘Candy Shop’ – one of my least favorite Madonna songs, but one that has enough cheeky silliness to attempt a slight smile. From the moment the demo first leaked, and through all of its live incarnations, I have not been left with a sweet taste in my mouth. Instead, I find myself trying to find the decent melody and hook that Madonna has consistently delivered – and every time I can’t. I think it fell short of its metaphors, and wanna-be street-cred, and failed miserably. As the quasi-title track from her ‘Hard Candy’ album, it was supposed to be all high-sugar, super-sexy concept, but never quite succeeded. You cannot build an entire album around a trifling concept and a few leftover Pharrell beats – and in this case you can’t even build a single song out of it.

All these suckers are not what we sell in the store
Chocolate kisses so good you’ll be beggin’ for more
Don’t pretend you’re not hungry, there’s plenty to eat
Come on in to my store ’cause my sugar is sweet

The lyrics are whimsically serviceable enough, shot through with enough possible double-entendres to remind that this is still Madonna, and she can still be quite cheeky, but in today’s world of salacious naughtiness, this is more safe-fun than scintillatingly-provocative. Madonna is at her best when she is at her most risky – either in boldly controversial moves, daringly personal revelations, or shockingly good musical turns. This lackluster track misses all those marks. Wisely, despite its title tie-in, ‘Candy Shop’ was never a single off of ‘Hard Candy’ – the much-more-impressive ‘4 Minutes’ was the kick-off – but Madonna still chose Candy to lead the Sticky and Sweet Tour, making it one of Madonna’s least memorable tour openings.

My sugar is raw (sticky and sweet)
My sugar is raw (sticky and sweet)…

What does “My sugar is raw” even mean? I texted it to all my friends and only got a flurry of puzzled responses. “The purple moose flies at midnight” being one, “Bareback sugar is what’s up” went another, and then there was this from Suzie: “Raw sugar is the way to go in coffee fo sho.”

As for this song in the Madonna canon, it will likely settle near the bottom. I can’t even get a quick sugar-high from it. Most egregiously, the cover art for this album is a let-down, being a horrid cob-job of a bad photo shoot, and an even-worse use of photoshop. (By the way, I don’t care what the kids in Narnia say, Turkish delight is not that great.)

Song #84 – ‘Candy Shop’ – Spring 2008
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