Things are getting messy in Madonna’s camp. In other news, the sky is blue.
So far Madonna’s Rebel Heart era features endless bathroom selfies, more obnoxious hashtags than you can shake your iPhone at and what is, quite objectively, her strongest material in a decade. All of this is, however, is in threat of being overshadowed by the colossal disaster that is over 30 demos from the still-unreleased LP leaking months ahead of the proposed release date. Indeed, so many tracks are washing up on the Internet’s shore that it’s getting a little dull to keep reporting each one individually.
There is nothing dull about “Two Steps Behind Me,” the newest in the extremely long line of unreleased tracks.
The track was first mentioned by The UK’s Daily Mail in August, dismissed by most as entirely unlikely (myself included, I’m a flop, I know) but it turns out they were on to something for a change – the song features the reported lyrics:
You’re a copycat / Where is my royalty? / You’re a pretty girl / I’ll give you that / But stealing my recipe / It’s an ugly look.
You can walk the walk / Even talk the talk / But you’ll always be / Two steps behind me.
Who could M possibly be referring to?
Take a listen:
Though speculation will undoubtedly surround what is definitely her most controversial demo so far, it seems almost impossible that the catchy beat-and-piano driven track – which sounds like a cross between Hard Candy’s “She’s Not Me” and Erotica’s “Thief Of Hearts” – is about anyone other than long-time feuding partner, merciless shade receiver (and thrower), mash-up inspirer, Lady Gaga.
Gaga caught wind of the song leak and posted this on Instagram:
Careful witch, I’ll put a spell on you. Or maybe I already did.
Madonna is pretty adamant that the song isn’t about Gaga, and claims in one of her now bi-weekly Instagram rants that there’s enough room for everyone in the industry:
There are those who want to shut me up but they cannot! We still live in a world that discriminates against women. There are People that are so hateful. they want to create feuds between strong women that do not exist! I do not wish ill will towards any other female artist and i never have! The World is big enough for all of us! I will fight for my rights as an artist and a human and a woman till the end if my days! Because i am a #rebelheart and i walk in the footsteps of giants and i will mot apologize for or defend my unpublished unfinished STOLEN work. If you don't like who i am or what i have to say then why are you reading this? #unapologeticbitch
That’d be pretty convincing if the song didn’t point so strongly towards Gaga, but I take Madonna’s point that she shouldn’t have to justify her unpublished work. Chances are this song was never meant to see the light of day.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the song has seen the light of day now. So whilst lyrics like “Where is my royalty?” and “In my shadow / You’re just a wannabe-me” are a typical Madonna combination of unbelievably pressed and deliciously bitchy, there is a sense that the reigning Queen of Pop should be somewhat above this. It calls to mind the same confusion that most fans felt about the now infamous “Express Yourself”/”Born This Way”/”She’s Not Me” mash-up from the MDNA Tour – whilst it’s good to hear M stand up for herself and her legacy (was there ever any doubt she would?), there’s not much dignity here.
The cruel irony of the whole debacle is that the Gaga-feud desperately overshadowed the largely under appreciated MDNA era but the public (bar the die-hard Little Monsters and Madonna stans) have moved on. By resurrecting old demons, Madge threatens to let the messy ordeal have a similar affect on how well Rebel Heart is received commercially. Gaga is by no means the pop mammoth she was in 2012 (because seriously, does this jazz enthusiast even want to be anymore?) but the potential damage is all too real.
I’m stanning for the catchy melodies and simple track which has the potential to be a monster (no pun intended) when it rises up from it’s demo roots, but this is probably the first leak I feel strongly shouldn’t be on the record. Let everyone hear it M, let them know that your wrath has been unleashed and that lessors should tremble in submission and then move on. Seriously, it’s not 2011 anymore – let “Born This Way”-gate die, #stopthedrama and #startthemusic. Luckily, given her most recent Insta-tirade it seems the Queen agrees.
What do you think? It’s the age old question, right – team Madonna or team Gaga?