Madonna, Time Traveling at Fifty

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“Sweet and Sticky”
Live Tour by Madonna

Hard Candy
by Madonna
Warner Brothers

 

FROM THE VERY MINUTE we enter this world, we are contained by time. The temporal conditions of our existence are the defining conditions. In his lyrical poem, “As I Walked Out One Evening,” W. H. Auden personifies time as an insuperable force of nature: “O let not Time deceive you,/ You cannot conquer Time.” But if Time, as Auden posits, is virtually unbeatable, Madonna—less a poet than a pop potentate—remains one of the last artists on earth to get the message. Her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy, debuted on top of the Billboard 200 this past summer, and her “Sticky and Sweet” world tour is already underway. Her “Confessions” tour of 2005 grossed more than $200 million, making it the most successful concert tour by a female artist ever. “I’m out of time and all I got is four minutes,” begins the appropriately entitled first single, “4 Minutes,” before the self-anointed “Queen of the World” chimes in with “Time is waiting/ No hesitating.” Madonna has recruited Justin Timberlake to speed things up for her, and treating him like her personal deejay, she huffs: “C’mon boy, I want somebody to speed up for me/ Then take it down slow.” Later, on “Dance 2Night,” she asks Timberlake (23 years her junior): “Are you a one trick pony or do you want to keep running this race?” On “Beat Goes On,” a sharp duet (this time with rapper Kanye West), Madonna bemoans the loss of the “luxury of time” while insisting “the time is right now” since “there is no time to lose.”

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