With her new album targeted directly at the commercial dance market, Madonna has been dropping teasing references to ecstasy, a drug long associated with the synthesizer-pumping rave music she has continually adapted over the past decade. And now Toronto-based Deadmau5, a superstar of electronic dance music, is calling her on it.
Even if the title of Madonna's new album, MDNA, is a play on her name, as the singer has hinted, it's also a play on the medical term for ecstasy, MDMA. It's a point she teased about with Jay Leno on a recent Tonight Show appearance.
And this weekend, before a stadium of fans at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Madonna asked, "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?" The audience, a sea of young women, shrieked back in approval. Molly is slang for MDMA.
Deadmau5 (less well known by his real name, Joel Zimmerman) called Madonna an "idiot" for dropping the drug reference to fans half her age and chastised her in a series of Twitter and Facebook remarks. Madonna is 53. Zimmerman, a DJ and producer who came to prominence when dance music started attracting stadium-sized crowds over the past decade, is a generation younger at 31.
"At the end of the day, it's a slap in the face, associating a potentially harmful substance to the work and passion we put in to make art," Zimmerman wrote on Twitter.
On a longer blog post, he indicated that he deplored Madonna's actions as pushing dance music back to the days of salacious headlines about drug use at raves. "Look at us now. Although not completely … the dark veil has been lifted slightly and the music and good times and technology started to shine through more and more [rather]than 'the latest breaking news about such and such drug.…' "
Since its inception more than 20 years ago (when Madonna was still copping the voguing trend of New York's gay underground), rave music has faced bad press for its association with drugs. In Madonna's references, Zimmerman sees "a marketing scheme to 'fit in' with today's young and 'hip' crowd to sell a [expletive]CD."
Zimmerman wasn't available for further comment on Monday. Madonna hasn't responded publicly.