Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Madonna's Sex is sexier than the reviewers claim. There's too much bondage and not enough pink for my taste--why not a closeup of her clit, or a shot of a dick in her mouth? But Both pictures and writing are smart and well-observed enough to prove yet again that when critics say porn is boring they're probably lying, blocking, or both. Madonna's Erotica (Maverick/Sire), on the other hand, is less sexy than the artiste pretends. Only the title tune, the rap boast Did You Do It?, and Where Life Begins, an invitation to eat her pussy that's too jocular to be as appetizing as its bassline, are as risque as run-of-the-mill steambath disco. But again you can ignore all reports of how tedious it is.

The latest line on Madonna makes her a full-time celebrity whose musical interests are now the sideline they deserve to be. You know--she can't sing, isn't much of a dancer, and plays fewer instruments than the Monkees. Yet somehow the scheming bitch revitalized dance music and got her name on a string of dynamite singles before turning album artist in the '90s. Her exploitation of prerock pop on I'm Breathless was a playful tour de force. And on Erotica, the sexier beats establish a quiet vocal attack that undercuts her tendency to overemote the AIDS ballad In This Life and the brother-and-sisterhood anthem Why's It So Hard. Combining the understated disco savvy of her ground-breaking early music with the pop ambition that followed, Erotica packs unprecedented strength and staying power. Boring my foot.


Fast Cuts: Ya Ntesa Dalienst & Le Maquisard, Belalo (Sango Music): Franco-Zairean soukous at its most sinuous. Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique, Independance (Piranha): dance music from Mozambique, and everywhere. (Both available from Stern's.)

Playboy, Nov. 1992


Oct. 1992 Dec. 1992