Thursday, April 17

4 Minutes

A sexually provocative, lyrically shallow, cultural plagiarist - these terms describe a naysayer's view of Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie's career. However, it can be argued that Mrs. Richie's most recently released single, 4 Minutes (to Save the World), is a thoughtful work that makes a strong case in support of international adoption.

Mrs. Ritchie last year adopted a child from the African nation of Malawi. After visiting the country and making an appearance at an orphanage, she chose a boy by the name of David and quickly left for England with him, assuming than an expedited process for the legal adoption would be undertaken. Madonna, having given birth to two children, Rocco and Lourdes, was ready to add a third child to her brood. When Madonna sings the line, "Come on boy I've been waiting for somebody to pick up my stroll" and Justin Timberlake responds, "Well don't waste time, give me a sign, tell me how you wanna roll" it is emblematic of the conversations that Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie must have had about the potential of adopting, with Mrs. Ritchie's mention of "stroll" clearly referring to a child's stroller, and Mr. Ritchie's request asking for direction of "how you wanna roll" meaning precisely what sort of perambulator she desires. In the subsequent line, Madonna mentions her desire for "somebody to speed it up for me then take it down slow," which clearly refers to her desire for the legal process of adoption to be accelerated while not wanting her newly adopted son to grow up too quickly.

The chorus of the song indicates that "if you want it/Ya already got it" which is to say that those debating whether to adopt a child should recognize that there are millions of children in countries across the world who are in need of loving parents and a stable home. The love that an adoptive parent feels for their child is palpable, and as with almost all new parents, there is a strong desire to satisfy the child's every need, desire, and want ("If you feel it/It must be real just/Say the word and/I'ma give you what you want "). Madonna is advocating for people to not delay (because they've "only got" the metaphorical "four minutes") to follow through on their desire to adopt a child ("grab a boy/grab a girl") from an international location (the "world" reference in the hook "save the world").

While some interpret a later line in the song as reading "Don't be a pri(hey)ma donna," I would argue that the line could more accurately be interpreted as "Don't be a pre- (hey) Madonna." In other words, Justin is noting that before Madonna achieved fame, before becoming a mother, and before discovering the ancient mystical teaching of the Kaballah, she was not as spiritually enlightened or effective an advocate for an important sociopolitical topic such as international adoption. Today, having demonstrated her credentials as an author, spiritual guru, and environmentalist, she is well-positioned to serve as an advocate for rescuing children from the poverty conditions of the third world. Furthermore, if one interprets the "U" in the line line of "Sometimes I think what I need is a you (U) intervention" as referring to the United Nations, it is clear that Madonna is speaking on behalf of the poor orphans of the world.

With a toe-tapping beat, a visually engrossing video, and unforgetable falsetto notes hit by her background vocalist - and most importantly, through her lyrics, Madonna ensures that the plight of young victims of poverty from across the globe is highlighted. She furthermore makes an effective case pleading with policymakers to affect a simplified and less arduous process for international adoption to benefit these children and the families that welcome them.