Madonna's over, or so saith Camille Paglia (subscription or site pass required). But that news is at least twenty years old. "In the Groove", which came out in 1985 (Madonna's best dance song, and for that matter one of the best dance songs of all time, if we're getting hyperbolic here), was the last song in which Madonna would be successful in using her sticky-fingered street urchin persona to distract us from her, well, fundamental repellence. Paglia's piece is an amusing read, but concludes with a predictable disrobing-in-the-middle-of-Main-Street stunt, as she writes of "Chaka Khan's phenomenal 'Ain't Nobody' -- which I would argue is an art song that bears comparison to Schubert's famous 'Serenade.'" I'll need more than a moment to dig myself out of that steaming pile, but then let me say: Chaka Khan is a phenomenal singer, and was never more so than in her work with the uniquely talented musicians of Rufus in the '70s. In her solo work, her vocal gifts (thenceforth responsible for begetting Whitney, who begat Mariah) don't do much more than transform mediocre songs into songs that you don't mind listening to, but mediocre songs they are nonetheless. Such as "Ain't Nobody": with pedestrian lyrics ("Ain't nobody / loves me better / makes me happy / makes me feel this way"), a melody that sounds like it was composed by someone who was limited to five keys on a toy piano, and a beat, too fast for funk and too slow for disco, that mostly goes nowhere.
The Paglia disco playlist is not bad, although it includes too many songs that are better to listen to than to dance to. (I like that it includes the often-overlooked Rick James's "You and I", and especially "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" by The Gap Band...if this song doesn't make you break out into an Apache war dance as it beats down the door of your house with its chthonic boom-boom-boom, get your pulse checked.) May I immodestly suggest Bookish Gardener's disco playlist, instead.