IL RITORNO: “Come back, come back, Madonna … We still need you,” cries an old Italian man at the end of the video for “Open Your Heart.” I love that bit because the old man’s scripted outburst speaks to a larger cultural truth. Every time we open ourselves up to a singer who resembles her—Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Robyn … say when—it’s like a little prayer for Madonna’s return, and she keeps coming back, even though she really doesn’t have to. (She’s sold only marginally fewer records than The Beatles.) She refreshes our synth-disco cravings at the source. That’s probably why we forgive her for playing concerts that marginalize her classic songs in favor of her recent material, as her MDNA tour, coming to the MGM Grand on Oct. 13-14 ($57-$407), reportedly does. Or, as Rob Sheffield put it in Rolling Stone’s Sept. 27 issue: “Madonna figures you have the oldies at home.” Well, it’s nice to have her back, anyway.
FOLIAGE MEETS PETROLEUM: CMJ New Music Monthly, a music magazine that published from 1993 to 2009, introduced to me the concept of “RIYL.” The acronym, which stands for “Recommended If You Like,” is a music writer’s best friend: It allows us to write about bands we’ve no interest in learning more about by placing them in the context of bands that we already know. For example: If this were New Music Monthly and I were reviewing an album by Tea Leaf Green, the San Francisco jam band coming to Vinyl on Oct. 12 ($24), I’d end the review with “RIYL: The Grateful Dead, Phish and Widespread Panic,” thus sparing me the aggravation of listening to a bunch of music in a subgenre I personally can’t listen to for more than minutes at a time.
NOW ON SALE: The Killers! You know them, you love them, you … um, you probably know them, personally. I booked a couple of Ronnie Vannucci Jr.’s original bands at Enigma Garden Café way back when; that’s my connection. The prodigals play the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan on Dec. 28-29 ($107). RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, Las Vegas.