Never one to rehash the past, Madonna is taking a two-pronged approach to celebrating the 40th anniversary of her debut album — nodding to the past with two career-spanning remix collections, while remaining rooted in the present by remixing Sickick’s mega-viral reimagining of “Frozen.”
For the third and final iteration, dubbed “Frozen on Fire,” Madonna added new lyrics to the song and invited the masked producer to contribute his own vocals. The result is a trap-tinged adventure that rounds out a trilogy of free-wheeling remixes that began with an Afrobeats overhaul, featuring Nigeria’s Fireboy DML, and then a genre-blurring collaboration with New Jersey’s 070 Shake.
While Sickick tinkered with “Frozen” independently, Madonna was quick to realize its potential. “I saw the effect it was having on people, that it was inspiring people to make these incredible videos,” she says in reference to the song’s popularity on TikTok. “I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to reinvent the song?’
“My lucky number is three,” Madonna says. So she set about curating three remixes from artists that come from different genres, nationalities, and backgrounds. “I wanted to show how accessible the song is, how relevant you can make it depending on who’s doing their spin on it,” she says, so an Afrobeats artist was at the top of her list.
“I live in a very musical household and we’ve lived all over the world,” Madonna says. “I have a lot of African staff that live in my house. Some are Nigerian, some are from the Congo, some are from Ghana. We were already listening to Afrobeats before it suddenly became super popular, which was just shocking to all of us.” So she decided to reach out to Fireboy DML in the most modern way imaginable: “I DM’ed him.”
“I’m probably one of the very few people that uses DMs to actually work with people,” Madonna quips. “But I always have to preface the DM with, ‘I realize this is a really shit way to try and connect with somebody, unprofessional possibly, to work together.’” However, no one leaves Madonna unread. “I always get good responses.” As for 070 Shake? That was facilitated by mutual friend Mike Dean.
“He always plays music for me,” Madonna explains. “We would put Shake on in the car. I really love her music and I wanted to work with a female.” There was another reason for selecting the young Eminem collaborator, who has a new album coming on Def Jam next week. “I also wanted to represent the LGBTQ community,” she says. “And I just thought Shake was a really good choice for the second one.” When it came time for remix number three – AKA “Frozen on Fire” – Sickick put his hand up.
“I was thinking of other artists initially, but then I said, ‘Okay, let me hear what you got,’” Madonna says. “So he sent me his version of the song and I was blown away by it.” Not only was she impressed by his voice and songwriting prowess, she also appreciated the symmetry. “It was all a pleasant surprise for me,” she says. “To come full circle with the person who created the remix in the first place.”
When asked if she enjoys the new, anything-goes musical landscape where projects are seemingly completed and released in real time, Madonna doesn’t hesitate. “It’s refreshing for me because I’ve been doing this for so long,” she says. “There’s a formula — [you] work on a record for six months to a year, then mixing it and making videos and marketing it and then releasing it and then going on tour to support it. And it’s a lot of work.”
“And I don’t have any problem with a lot of work,” she emphasizes. “I love to work, but it just takes so long in between records. It’s great to work on an album and spend time creating a masterpiece, but I love the instant gratification of doing something and just putting it out.” Unsurprisingly, working on the “Frozen” remixes sparked nostalgia. “I realized that ‘Frozen’ is a brilliant song,” she says. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it’s timeless.”
“It comes from my ‘Ray of Light’ record, which I’m really proud of,” Madonna continues. “It was a turning point in my life. I made that record when I had just given birth to my daughter, my first child. Life looked so different to me and I’ll never be the same. It was a watershed moment.” Her memories of the “Frozen” recording session are less specific. “I just remember how all the songs I write with Pat Leonard begin with me sitting next to him playing the piano.”
From 1982’s “Everybody” to 2022’s “Frozen” remixes, the one constant in Madonna’s iconic career is the hold she has on clubland. “It’s my first love, I left home to become a dancer,” she says. “I had no intention of ever becoming a singer, making records, but things just happened and opportunities presented themselves to me. At one point I was like, ‘Oh my God, all those years, I wasted dancing and all those dance classes and all the blood, sweat and tears.’”
Ultimately, however, she realized her affinity with movement was a super power. “I use it in all of my work,” Madonna says. “So much of my music is about dancing. That’s my connection to club music. It’s been important to me all my life.”