Women in Music 2016

Why Madonna's 'Bitch I'm Madonna' Video Is the Video She Needed to Make

Courtesy of Tidal
A still from Madonna's "Bitch I'm Madonna" music video featuring Nicki Minaj released exclusively on Tidal on June 17. 2015.

Madonna's new music video for "Bitch I'm Madonna" is almost brazen in its quest to divert your attention. The clip for the Nicki Minaj-assisted single, which premiered on Tidal on Wednesday (June 17) and was unlocked for the rest of the world one day later, promised appearances from Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Rita Ora prior to its release, then tossed in Kanye West, Chris Rock and song co-producer Diplo for good measure.



It's a fun game of spot-the-cameo -- wait, was that Alexander Wang?! -- where Madonna brings out the big guns and lets artists like Kanye and Katy sing along to the crunchy electro-pop track from remote locations. "Bitch I'm On Skype," basically, but with the candy-colored post-ADD concept, Madonna is daring audiences not to be entertained.

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Everyone is talking about this music video, because when you round up Kanye, Bey, Nicki and Madonna in one video and the phrase "streaming platform" isn't involved, people are going to want to watch. The thing is, everyone's been talking about Madonna for months now, but not for the right reasons. We gasped when she made out with Drake at Coachella, raised our eyebrows when she hoisted a leg upon that Tidal table, and made sure she was okay when she tumbled backwards during her BRIT Awards performance. However, how many casual pop fans can sing the hook to "Living For Love" or "Ghosttown"?



Those two songs were the first two singles from Rebel Heart, Madonna's thirteenth studio album released in March, and neither charted on the Hot 100. So far, Rebel Heart is Madonna's only studio album without a hit on the Hot 100 -- a testament to her unbelievable, three-decade run of hits... and to how much pop radio has simply ignored this new project. The celeb-studded video for third single "Bitch I'm Madonna," then, can be interpreted as a no-holds-barred attempt to return her fans' focus to Rebel Heart and mine a real hit from her new album. Judging from the widespread reaction to the video over the past 24 hours -- 500,000 views in a matter of hours -- the plan appears to be working.

Madonna has actually been promoting Rebel Heart far more rigorously than her previous album, 2012's MDNA. This press run has included multiple TV and awards show performances, a handful of sound byte-ready interviews, a more concerted social media push and a game of Never Have I Ever with Justin Bieber, among other appearances.



For MDNA, Madonna didn't do too much… but she did perform at the Super Bowl less than two months before its release. The pop superstar got to perform her "Give Me All Your Luvin'" on the biggest stage in the world days after the song hit the Internet, and the lead single quickly became a top 20 hit. MDNA debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 upon its release in March 2012, and three years later, Rebel Heart started at No. 2 in March, losing a close race for the top spot to the Empire soundtrack.

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Fast-forward to June and the "Bitch I'm Madonna" video; the time was right for Madonna to make this move. Her legacy does not change one bit if Rebel Heart fails to produce a hit, but the returns from her fast-approaching Rebel Heart world tour might. Madonna has a new network of super-friends called Tidal, and can hit up Beyonce and Kanye to appear in a video that will debut exclusively on the platform. And Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video, which debuted exactly one month prior to "Bitch I'm Madonna" and shot to the top of the Hot 100 soon after its release, was a good reminder that star-studded music videos are juicier than non-star-studded music videos. This is nothing new -- Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Jay Z have all landed on the superstar-filled-video option at different points in their respective careers. It was simply Madonna's time to play that card as well.

Essentially, Madonna has pulled a Queen of Pop move with this one: she opened her Rolodex, surrounded herself with high-profile collaborators and moved the needle. At the end of the day, it's cool to have Beyonce vogue-ing in your music video! And she can do it, because bitch, she's… well, you know.