REVIEW: Madonna – “Girl Gone Wild” (Remixes)
Alright, so Madonna’s MDNA album has been out for a while, and her second single from it, “Girl Gone Wild,” has already been getting airplay. Peaking at #6 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under, it’s obvious that the track doesn’t have the push for the top of the chart that “Give Me All Your Luvin” did. Perhaps it’s the self-indulgent diatribe at the beginning that seems to be begging for Lady Gaga’s attention, but at the same time Gaga only does these things to get Madonna’s attention. Perhaps Madonna is vying for her own attention. When it comes to the video of the track, it’s pretty sexual. But at the same time, it’s hardly anything that we haven’t seen from her before, and fairly tame in retrospect. Androgynous pop group Kazaky perform as backup dancers, rocking those heels like they always do and looking hot while they do it. While I have yet to understand why this video was removed for raciness, I can say it’s quite entertaining and was the turning point in my enjoyment of this track. And try as he might, Benny Benassi’s production is fun but wasn’t what finally got me to like this track, and it certainly wasn’t Madonna’s use of the words “808 drums.” I kinda wanted to slap her after that. No, it was definitely the video, giving me all those images to attach the track to and I finally gained appreciation for it.
But we aren’t here to talk about Benny Benassi’s original production or Kazaky’s dance moves we are here to talk about the absolute smorgasbord of remixes for this banger of a track. So let’s get started. Most of the names Madonna has tagged in order to remix her track are pretty well known. Avicii, Dave Aude, and Offer Nissim are all widely recognized for their efforts, but only slightly less known are Dada Life and Kim Fai. Lucky Date and Justin Cognito are not quite as well known, but after this remix single, it’s anyone’s game who comes out on top.
Avicii is clearly the first mix of the bunch to achieve notoriety, having been played at Ultra Music Festival. Tim Berg (a.k.a. Avicii) slathers his signature sound all over the track, mixing in entrancing melodies with sickeningly heavy dropped beats, as he does. The thing about Avicii’s mix is that it’s clearly trying very hard to establish itself as a separate track from the original. Avicii created a whole new song for Madonna’s vocals, and it works quite well at being both uplifting and getting you to shake your tailfeather, but I have to admit that after repeated listens to the original, it’s missing some of Benassi’s inflection.
Aude’s mix, on the other hand, takes a heavier, rock-based approach. The mix is also full of tech-house noises and a deeply-rooted sense of tension. Aude’s beats are there, and it seems the track could break into his mix of Rihanna’s “Rockstar 101″ at any point. Dave Aude gives the track his all, and the nostalgic elements of the mix definitely add a level of intrigue to the mix which, otherwise, sounds like a mass of noises conjoined together in a rhythmic way. This isn’t to say it isn’t a guilty pleasure to dance to, but there are more coherent offerings available.
Offer Nissim is just as self-indulgent in his mix of “Girl Gone Wild” as Aude or Avicii, working in some mugam singing in the intro before descending into his frothy mix of beats and synths. Nissim has this fantastic ability to weave house and trance together to achieve some thick beats and ethereal sounds, and with Madonna’s vocals layered on top, Nissim aims to turn “Girl Gone Wild” into an epic experience. And it comes close, too. At the end of the day, the track has lost too much of itself in Nissim’s hands, and has not been given enough of a separate identity to warrant that.
Dada Life, the dark and quirky dance group responsible for some truly twisted tracks, also take a stab at Madonna’s ode to girls just having fun. The vibe is just as twisted as ever, taking the original production and dredging it through the slime and muck for some heavy bass synths punctuated by insistent and merciless beats. As a casual listener, this one is pretty engaging and would make for a seriously fun walk or car ride, but perhaps the disassociation between melody and harsher elements of their mix might make it hard to connect with on the floor. Or it will hit just hard enough to go crazy to.
Justin Cognito (haha, like Justin Time) gives his mix quite a lot of bass growl in between his synths. The curious thing about this mix, is that it seems to interpolate both Benassi’s original production as well as DJ Antoine’s “Welcome to St. Tropez,” perhaps as a method of pointing out how the original track perhaps reminded him of the earlier track. It’s a fun, busy mix with some heavy beats worth dancing to. And a little dubstep/breakbeat during the middle, to give it some spice. Not a bad offering over all.
Diving into late 90s and early 2000s territory on his mix, Lucky Date throws some heavy instrumentation into his mix of “Girl Gone Wild.” I feel a resurgence of Robbie Tronco or Zombie Nation on this mix, which is neither a bad nor a good thing. This mix has good intentions, but at the end of it I’m feeling a little disengaged, kind of like I do when I listen to circuit music.
Last time I really paid attention to Kim Fai was for the remix of “Dirty Talk” by Wynter Gordon. This is a definite step up from that mix, which was already good. There’s a combination of heavy elements, again reminiscent of earlier mixes in the way that Lucky Date’s mix was, but there’s a different vibe to Kim Fai’s mix that translates the track better. Plus there’s a good bit of lush melody to lose yourself in as well. That the track is dubbier is, to me, a mark in the minus column as a casual listener, but as a clubgoer I can see this mix having the right effect.
This is truly a tough call. From the ‘I put it on my iPod and listen’ perspective, I’d say Avicii wins the bunch here. His mix of melody and beats clearly makes this the best choice when it comes to personal listening. For the club floor, that’s where things get tough. Dave Aude clearly has a good thing going with his rock-inspired mix but against some of the other mixes like Kim Fai or Justin Cognito, Aude’s may come off as a bit noisy. A cleaner mix sounds like a better choice to me. Nissim’s mix is clean but lacks identity, as does Kim Fai’s. But no matter what you pick, I think this remix package is pretty solid, with a good selection of offerings for your taste.
Disclosure: Review copy was provided by the record label.
Image Courtesy of Live Nation/Interscope