Madonna Searches For Molly, Finds Herself Embroiled In A Brand-New Controversy

Madonna at Ultra over the weekend.
Ultra Music Festival pummeled Miami's Bayfront Park last weekend, motivating innumerable fist pumps over thirty hours of music, but it was the brief speech by a 53-year-old woman wearing a shirt emblazoned with the letters "MDNA" that has prompted disbelief within parts of the electronic dance music community. That woman is Madonna, who as part of the scorched earth roll-out for her new album MDNA introduced headliner Avicii and incited the overwhelmingly young attendees with the question: "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?"

Based on the roars and squeals heard on the live stream of the festival, plenty of kids were in on the joke. Molly is winking drug slang for MDMA, the active chemical in Ecstasy, consumed and condemned by many in equal measure. The moment itself is more cringeworthy than jaw-dropping—crowd response up to that point was tepid and mainly concerned with frantic picture-taking—but that hasn't stopped a wide range of responses. Veteran electronic music critic Philip Sherburne called the reference "just tasteless, the worst kind of pandering." The consistently apoplectic Deadmau5 turned in a profane rant on Facebook and condemned Madonna's recklessness and lack of responsibility in a larger Tumblr post. Madonna has already attempted to spackle over the moment, claiming the comment was a reference to the forthcoming Cedric Gervais house track "Have You Seen Molly?"

What's most revelatory about the situation is the light it sheds on an undeniable aspect within electronic music culture that the major profiteers in its meteoric rise stateside would prefer stayed covered in the corner. The winks used to be less subtle: at the height of acid house D-Mob's "We Call It Acieed" hit No. 1 on the UK Singles chart, New Order attempted to title their song for the 1990 World Cup "E Is For England," and Joey Beltram's legendary "Energy Flash" mutters an incantation of "Ecstasy, Ecstasy." Even now, such lazy references are hardly rare, practically de rigeur for uncreative producers looking for an easily digestible vocal hook.

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