Madonna’s been covered by many notable musicians in the past–from Kelly Osbourne with “Papa Don’t Preach” to Ariel Pink with “Everybody”(before his public assassination of her character, of course)–and each interpretation of the song has brought at least something new to the table. Rihanna’s cover of “Vogue,” however, does not do that.
When Rihanna and Madonna (who have more in common than just the fact that their names rhyme in that they both love courting controversy, usually of a sexual nature) first met in an open forum in November 2008 at a Gucci benefit for UNICEF, the duo seemed almost natural posing in front of the camera together (unlike telltale photos of Gaga and Madonna when they were first pretending to have a love-in).
Their raw sexual energy, their devil may care approach to the press and their record-breaking music chart stats all seemed to spell that Rihanna was an adequate contender to replace others (e.g. Britney Spears) as being “the next Madonna.” Unfortunately, Ri Ri’s (an epithet I hate using, but for some reason just decided to) attempt at paying homage to one of the Queen of Pop’s best-loved songs is not only uncomfortable to listen to, it’s, quite simply, rather bland and conventional.
Even those who have maintained the integrity of Madonna’s original versions of a song have contributed their own personality to it, as with Natasha Bedingfield’s cover of “Ray of Light” back in 2007. But this rendition of “Vogue” is so surprisingly and profoundly uninspired that it almost leaves one to wonder if Rihanna created it purely out of spite rather than esteem for Madonna.