POP NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1: Stop teasing and get on with it

Madonna(image: Versace)

‘Wolf dog’ wants steak. ‘Wolf dog’ constantly gets teased with steak. ‘Wolf dog’ is given a few small pieces of steak. But, ‘wolf dog’ can only have the steak when the owner sees fit, despite the fact it’s just sitting there.

Stans are much like ‘wolf dog’. As I’m sure anyone reading this blog is aware, an album’s worth of demos from Madonna leaked this week. It’s pretty shit to be honest because she either has to shit the album out in the next few days or scrap everything that leaked. Or just pray that people will still buy it when it comes out.

It’s pretty annoying when music leaks this early. Madonna is undoubtedly furious. I’m imagining Madonna HQ to be like the ‘Express Yourself’ video meets the ‘building the Pyramids’-bit in ‘The Prince of Egypt’.

Perhaps the most gutting part about this whole thing is that it may have been leaked by a fan. Which shouldn’t be a thing: as a pop fan, I’d rather wait an extra few months and have the music in its perfect form. But then I’m not a rabid fan.

I guess the whole ‘rabid fan’ culture started when popstars gave their fan bases names. I can’t find actual proof that Lady Gaga did it first, but I don’t remember anyone doing it before. At the time, naming her fans the ‘Little Monsters’ may have been trivial (or a very clever marketing ploy). But, it also increased devotion to a particular popstar.

And now everyone is doing it. No one has managed to top ‘Rowland Stones’ yet, mind you.

The problem with it though is that the most devoted fans do not listen to anything other than their fav. The most devoted Little Monster probably didn’t buy ‘Prism’; the most devoted ‘Katy Cat’ probably didn’t buy ‘ARTPOP’.

Eventually, even the most devoted stan will get bored. Particularly when they’re shitting out swing albums when really all they really want is something as good as ‘Poker Face’.

This is Madonna’s issue. ‘MDNA’ didn’t leave much for a devoted fans to chew on, and she has been teasing her new album for a good while on Instagram. She is ‘wolf dog’s’ owner, teasing the hungry dog with steak but not letting him have the whole thing until she sees fit.

I remember learning about Mischel’s marshmallow experiment during A Level Sociology. Pre-school children were given the choice: they could have one marshmallow before the experiment started, or they could be left alone with them and after an allotted period, could have two.

I don’t know whether there’s a correlation between leaking songs and doing well on SATs (children with self-control do better, apparently). But it is similar, in the sense that some people feel entitled to half the finished product if they’re teased with it, whereas some prefer to wait until they can have the whole thing.

The Madonna leak highlights that if you’re going to tease already hungry fans for a year, they probably won’t wait until you want them to.

So, in the new year, there should be three types of ‘big pop release’:

The ‘Beyoncé’

Shitting everything out in one go. The fans cannot know anything. The press cannot know anything. It just happens. This will only work though if the album is a 10/10 anyway, and won’t rely on promo.

The ‘Taylor’

Shitting most the details out in one go (ie the first single, album title, release date). Then, a week or so before, give out the track-listing. This maintains anticipation but hackers do not know what to look for.

The ‘Sheeran’

Leaking your own album, by way of releasing almost every song on iTunes before the actual release date. It only works if the album works as separate songs though (it wouldn’t work for ‘Big Fat Lie’ or ‘LP1’, for example).

So yeah, the first pop new year’s resolution is to keep quiet until your album is ready to come out. It’s better that way.

You’ll undoubtedly be pleased to hear that there are two more of these resolutions coming so yeah.


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