With Wednesday’s world premiere of Madonna’s new video, ”Music” (4 p.m., MTV), the hype machine for her new album of the same name (due Sept. 19) officially kicks off. The success of this follow up to the quadruple platinum ”Ray of Light” is crucial for both the pregnant pop star and her label, Warner Brothers (which is owned by EW.com’s parent company Time Warner). For her part, Madonna is rumored to be in negotiations for a new five album deal which could net her $20 million up front (her publicist declined to comment). And the label – a part of the Warner Music Group, which is in the midst of a $20 billion merger with the EMI Group – desperately needs to retain such a proven seller.
For the ”Music” video, which is key to the album’s successful launch, Madonna reteams with Jonas Akerlund, who directed her award winning ”Ray” clip. ”Music” is a cheeky take on hip hop culture (complete with gold chunk jewelry, break dancing, and booty shakin’ strippers) that turns into an all-female bacchanal in the back of a gold stretch limo. Madonna describes the video as ”ghetto fabulous,” and it features fur wearing, bejeweled appearances by longtime gal pal Debi Mazar and background singer Nikki Harris, who chatted about making the video on madonnaweb.com last week. ”I get to my trailer,” said Harris, ”and there’s D&G, Versace, floor length furs, diamond encrusted jewelry. And I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is ghetto – what ghetto is she from?”’
Along with the video’s high style hip hop vibe are winks to dance club culture. At one point, an animated Madonna morphs into a Hindu like six-armed dj. This appeal to dance music fans is also vital to the album’s overall marketing plan. In fact, starting today several websites will debut remixes of ”Music” by such club land dignitaries as Groove Armada (www.vh1.com), Deep Dish (www.madonnamusic.com), Hex Hector (www.sonicnet.com), and Tracey Young (www.mtv.com). ”People have been clamoring for these remixes ever since they announced who was doing them,” says Pete Glowatsky, editor for Globaldance.net. ”It’s pretty much the biggest thing there is now for the club community.”
But while the song’s dance appeal is helping it in the clubs, some think it may hurt it at radio. ”The main concern that I hear [from other jocks] is that it’s too clubby,” says Sean Sellers, music director of Z104 in Washington, D.C., which began playing the single last week. ”But when people say that to me, I point out to them that ‘Justify My Love’ went No. 1. And that was a really off the wall club song.”
Whether ”Music” (the single) reaches ”Love”’s chart topping success when it’s released on Aug. 22 remains to be seen. But there were reports last week that ”Music”’s video was on the verge of causing as much controversy as the switch hitting clip for ”Love.” Gossip columnist Liz Smith reported that MTV was planning to digitally blur some of the video’s images because the female dancers were being – get this – objectified. But today, an MTV spokesman told EW.com that the network will ”be playing the same video as everyone else.” Unblurred strippers, cowboy hats, and furs? Sounds like Madonna’s been hanging with Kid Rock.