“Hung Up” by Madonna

Published on December 2nd, 2014 by mcarolin. Filed under Music Videos

Madonna is notorious for her ability to maintain a strong, influential presence in the music industry since the 1980’s; particularly her identification with female sexuality and its connection to female empowerment.  One of her most popular songs in the latter part of her career, Hung Up, has “restored her popularity and served as her best dance track to date.” Her music video demonstrates this…

The music video for Hung Up utilizes editing, shot selection, the song itself, and visual cues in the mis-en-scene to highlight Madonna’s attempts to stay relevant in a changing musical landscape, particularly with regards to her stance as an older woman in the world of popular music, which often de-emphasizes sexuality in older women.

The first part of the video uses close-ups and cuts to highlight Madonna’s tailored dance and retro attire in contrast to youthful dancers’ dynamic movements. The video begins by cutting to the subject’s hand turning on lights of an empty room. The camera cuts to the subject sporting a retro tracksuit as she carries a vintage boom box, a clear reference to 1980’s hip-hop culture (the youth culture of its day). Madonna purposefully objectifies herself by framing herself with ambiguous shots of female anatomy. The music begins as the camera cuts from a hand switching on the boom box to Madonna’s seductive facial expression and movements luring in the audience. Madonna stares into the mirror and moves her arms like the hand of a clock—clear symbols of time passing—to underline her words, “time goes by so slowly.” Throughout the video, Madonna accentuates her sexuality while slowly stretching to the boom box’s beat. The video visually argues for Madonna’s relevance by cutting to the same vintage boom box surrounded by young dancers, the young and the old connection over music.  The song itself uses a sample from Abba, a popular band from the 1970s, but remixes it, making the song relevant in a new music landscape centered on the dance floor.

The second part of the video utilizes wide-angle shots and cuts to Madonna, dressed in tight, black leather, accentuating her bold sexuality. Madonna struts toward the camera—to the music’s fast beat—as men stare at her in awe. Images closely associated with time: the clock; the boom box and 1980’s attire are no longer present, emphasizing Madonna’s goal to defy the status quo and maintain her relevance in spite of her advancing age. She purposely sexualizes herself to show that even time cannot take away her empowered feeling of sexuality. Maintaining the angle, the camera cuts to Madonna echoing her pelvic dance moves of before, with a host of performers following her lead, dancing in the rave-like atmosphere of a warehouse. The camera cuts to close-ups of the individual dancers, giving the young performers an identity (the audience now able to identity their faces). The music video ends by cutting to an above angle shot of Madonna, wearing her feminine, 80’s reminiscent leotard, hugging her curves, leaving little to the imagination (something she didn’t even wear in the 80s, when that particular fashion was in vogue). She blinks her eyes as if she has just woken from a dream. Throughout the music video, Madonna, juxtaposed with the presence of young dancers, defies the cultural norms that are tied to her age group. She frames herself as a powerful, sexual woman in a youthful musical landscape (while still emphasizing the idea of “youth culture” throughout the decades). The music video demonstrates Madonna’s continuous popularity and recaptures her sexuality in a strong, powerful way—an image she has successfully captured for many decades, and (hopefully) decades to come.

“Hung Up” by Madonna

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