She's Madonna
by Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys

Writers - Williams/Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2006
Original album - Rudebox (Williams)
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - In and Out of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990–2010 (Williams)
Other releases - single (UK #16, U.S. Dance #12)

Based on Robbie's original concept, Chris and Neil wrote and performed this song with Mr. Williams for his album Rudebox, released in late October 2006. (Even though it's Robbie's album, this track is credited to "Robbie Williams with Pet Shop Boys.") Robbie, as quoted on the Popjustice website, said that he played Kraftwerk's "Tour De France" for the Boys and then asked if they could "do something like this, but not much like this." In working together on this song, the Pet Shop Boys and Robbie both contributed to the music and lyrics alike. Neil is also quite noticeable within the background vocals. (Incidentally, "She's Madonna" was only one of two tracks on Rudebox on which Robbie collaborated with PSB, the other being "We're the Pet Shop Boys," which Neil and Chris had themselves previously covered.)

Even pre-release, the song was, like Madonna herself, surrounded by controversy. Robbie denied print rumors that the song stemmed from the fact that both he and Madge's husband Guy Ritchie at one time dated UK TV personality Tania Strecker—Ritchie before he met Madonna and Robbie afterward, in 2000. The gossip was that "She's Madonna" is based on Tania's telling Robbie about a conversation that Guy allegedly had with her when they broke up. Ritchie reportedly said, "Look, you know I really love you, but she's Madonna." But Robbie rejects this story completely, asserting that the song is simply a tribute to Mrs. Ritchie.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that actor/musician Ashley Hamilton (Rod Stewart's stepson—or perhaps "ex-stepson" considering that Rod is divorced from his mother) claimed to have collaborated with Robbie on the lyrics years before the Boys got involved with it. This latter allegation may lead to a court battle. Speaking of lyrics, the best line in the song is the wondrous pun "She has to be obscene to be believed." If Neil didn't have a hand in writing that, he probably wishes he had, potential lawsuits notwithstanding.

And then there's the video, which includes sequences with Robbie in drag for no discernable reason except perhaps sheer outrageousness. More than one commentator has observed that this did nothing to enhance its chances of commercial success when it was released as a joint Robbie/PSB single in March 2007. Indeed, it peaked at only #16 on the U.K. singles chart, though it fared much better in various other countries.

All controversy aside, Neil has noted that Madonna heard the song pre-release and likes it, although Robbie was initially a bit reluctant to release it since he "feared she'd think he was stalking her." A midtempo number with a rich synth and vocal arrangement and a frankly lovely melody, its lyrics are written cleverly enough that they can be read both literally and figuratively. Yes, in a literal sense, it's about a guy (pun intended) dumping his girl for Madge. On the other hand, the "Madonna" here can be viewed as a metaphor for any irresistibly charismatic woman that a man—and, considering that "she's Madonna," perhaps not only a heterosexual man—would find it extremely difficult to say "No" to. It's simply a matter of using a direct metaphor rather than a mere simile ("she's like Madonna").

Either way, literally or metaphorically, it's a superb track, one of the high points of the album on which it appears.

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