Madonna falls into crappy Gap ad

That Madonna is now doing TV ads for retail goliath Gap shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

After 12 weeks on the charts, Madonna’s latest disc, “American Life,” has tumbled to No. 139 on the “Billboard” 200 albums chart; a surprisingly poor showing for a singer whose records used to sell millions and whose singles stayed glued to the top zones of the charts for months.

By doing the Gap ads, Madonna is clearly trying to boost her sales and perhaps prove to herself and her fans that she’s still relevant. The ad, which also stars hipster hip-hop artist Missy Elliott, smacks of desperation.

What is surprising, however, is just how lame the ad is. For better and for worse, Madonna has made a career out of clever and controversial videos. Remember the “Papa Don’t Preach” clip, in which she played the role of a woman contemplating abortion? Or “Like a Prayer,” which featured, prominently, burning crosses? And what about the sexually explicit video for “Erotica”? Think you had to order that from a Web site or something.

Obviously, TVs ads are a lot different. Someone else is paying for them, so they control what happens. But the sheer fact that Madonna and Missy would participate in regurgitating a remixed, reworded version of Madonna’s hit “Into the Groove,” while dancing very badly, just proves that the Material Girl isn’t above doing obvious, noninventive commercials to save her music career.

Madonna’s also reportedly trying to hype the release of her first children’s book, “The English Roses,” coming out in September.

In the ad, Madonna touts Gap’s girlfriend tank and low-rise cropped stretch cords. Missy’s all about the supersoft hoodie, banded jean jacket and stretch boot-cut cords.

The two dance down the streets of what looks like Brooklyn, before they finish with a feel-good dance finale, like you see in bad movies about dysfunctional-family bonding.

If the commercial hypnotizes you into buying these new clothes, you can also get the cords monogrammed, as Missy and Madonna did for the clip; they each have the letter “M” etched on their back pockets. M&M, get it? Cute.

Madonna doesn’t necessarily have a history of lending her image out like this. The most prominent product she has ever hyped, you may remember, was Pepsi, back in 1989. But Pepsi gave her the boot after the aforementioned “Like a Prayer” caused such a stir.

Ah, the good ol’ days.