Music. Does it really make the people come together? The bourgeoisie and the rebel? That was the question on nearly everyone's mind when Madonna rush released Music, her 8th studio effort and her first record going into her third decade of shocking the world with her bold and brazen antics and making people move with her surefire brand of intelligent Dance-Pop. It is also of worth to note that Music would be Madonna's first foray into competing with the bubblegum revolution of the early 'oughts; for the first time in a long time Madonna was not on the cusp of the music scene and people were anxious to see if she could keep up with pop stars nearly half her age. And with all the Britneys and Christinas taking the place of Madonna's previous competitors, one must have wondered if Madonna still had what it took to remain relevent in an increasingly youthful Pop music scene that she had basically invented 15 or so years earlier. After all, all the screaming teenage girls that grew up wanting to roll around in a wedding dress were now mothers, whose daughters that were busy sashaying their stuff down their school hallways in plaid Catholic schoolgirl skirts. So in many ways, Music would become a very real barometer in terms of whether Madonna could withstand the onslaught of Madonnabes coming for her throne.
But,fear not people, this is Madonna after all and people shouldn't have expected Madonna to give up all pretense of being a confident, mature and capable adult just to court radio airwaves, record spins, and public attention. Madonna, as always, was determined to make music on her own terms and Music is a clear and thought out vision of where Madonna was heading in terms of her musical direction for the new decade, if sometimes the records falls into a frustrating and sometimes flat out boring mess,but despite Music's sometimes obvious flaws Madonna spared no expense in seeing her creative vision come to fruititon. And one cannot deny the end result, good or (mostly)bad, is 100% nothing less than Madonna.
Music finds Madonna discovering alt-Pop/ Country while delving into the subconscious of Euro-Electronica and creating a weird mishmosh hybrid of sounds that comes off simutlaneously fresh and unique for it's time and jarring and obnoxious the first time one hears Music in it's entirity. Music is widely considered Madonna's first "headphones" album, relying more on unique production tricks than on her voice and for a long time fan such as myself that makes this record such an infuriating and exhausting listen. Call me biased or whatever, but Madonna's voice is one of my favorites in music and to have to listen to layer after layer of synthesizers and computer manipulated instruments on top of said voice is irritating to say the very least. Sonically, Music is not a half bad effort-I have to admit that most of the production provided to Madonna are refreshingly original compared to the generic canned thump of drum machines that was typical of American dance music at the turn of the new millenium, but as a consistant record, Music leaves me a bit chilly and nonplussed. Music, is by far Madonna's most detatched and least accessable record of her entire career and for me that fact takes away some of the appeal of a Madonna record. So while Music might bring the people together on the dance floor for a moment or two, in the long run the album does nothing to bring the listener-new, casual, or longtime fan-closer to the woman behind the wall of sound. But hey it still beats the pants off of Oops I Did It Again or No Strings Attached and looking back a decade later isn't that all that really matters?
Guess who's back...Back again....it's the T-B-T!.....tell a friend!
1.Music: Judging by the reaction Music's title track recieved on it's inception as the first single from the record(4 Weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100,making the song her last number one in the U.S, currently) I'd have to venture that the song answers it's own question and does indeed make the people come together. And How! Combine Madonna's atypical highhanded lyrics(Bourgeoisie, anyone?) with a backing track of whirring synths and computer manipulated bleeps that sound like that they were drenched in "acid rock" and you have the surefire recipe for an across the board smash hit! Funny thing is though, I used to hate this song to the nth degree thanks to rapid media oversaturation, but once I saw her reinvention of the song on her Sticky&Sweet tour, suddenly the song made perfect sense................Score:9/10
2.Impressive Instant: Ah! The mythical lost "4th single"! How I love it so! And what a single it would have been had it not been for those jerk-offs at WB too lazy to promote their biggest star. Rumor has it that since Madonna refused to promote the album anymore than she had to because of WB's idiotic decision to include American Pie on the European editions of the record, WB announced that there would be no 4th single released off of Music and Impressive Instant,already a number One on the Billboard Hot Dance Play chart was left virtually ignored. Like I said: Idiots! Impressive Instant is easily the best track on Music, if only for the fact that it represents everything that Madonna was trying to achieve musically for the new millenium. Half baked lyrics aside("I like to singy, singy, singy like a bird on the wingy,wingy, wingy"),the production is so fantastically out there weird-cool with all of it's grinding, pulsating noisyness that you barely even notice some of Madonna's more obvious lyrical faux pas, although I will say Impressive Instant does have one of her better, if not top 10 opening verse-chorus structures. Basically the song is fast,ridiculously catchy and finds Madonna at the top of her game riding a year 2000 groove; so I must ask again, Why wasn't this a single?..............Score:11/10
3.Runaway Lover: Maybe I spoke a bit too soon about Madonna not trying to keep up with the Aguileras and the Spearses of the world, because after pulling this album out to listen to while I review it, I'm finding myself less and less impressed with what is basically a somewhat catchy, of the moment, yet altogether forgettable album filler that sounds like it could have come from anyone from 2000, let alone the Queen of Pop. I find it hard to put it into words how to review Runaway Lover because it is so unremarkable and unmemorable. Now honestly, how many times does that happen on a Madonna record?...........Score:5/10
4.I Deserve It: is painful to listen to. Not because of any deep emotional connection or anything of the sort, but because everything I've told and read about Madonna's so called lackluster songwriting abilities(of which, is bogus by they way!)come into question here on I Deserve It, Madonna's first love struck ode to her now ex-husband Guy Ritchie. And in case you had any doubt about who I Deserve It was about, Madonna makes it painfully clear in the verses("This Guy was made for me,/and I was made for him/This Guy has danced for me/and I have danced for him") and it's at that moment I realize why God invented the skip button on CD players. Production wise, I Deserve It is an mellow, acoustic affair which sonically isn't as jarring as one would imagine coming off of three successive club anthems. Now too bad the painfully literal lyrics could only keep up........SCORE:0/10
5.Amazing: I swear I've heard this song before! Where.....was it in a movie perhaps? Oh yeah that's right, Madonna for some unknown reason, decided to plagerize the beat of her previous 60's throwback hit Beautiful Stranger for the decidedly less adventurous or aurally interesting Amazing. I mean I can't even listen to the song for a full minute without picturing Austin Powers and his funked up buck teeth....so I guess once again, it's back to the skip button!.............Score:4/10(because I liked it the first time I heard it in 2000!)
6.Nobody's Perfect: Truth in titles, Madonna? Because so far after listening to Music for the first time in what seems like months and coming along to the dragging, depressing and altogether dreary Nobody's Perfect, where it sounds like someone either forgot to change tapes in the studio or hit reverse and slow duing the mixing process, I'm beginning to come to the starting realization that Music might just be Madonna's worst record thus far of her career. And Nobody's Perfect, with it's lack of melody or semblance of structure does nothing to give me any hope that I might be wrong about that.........SCORE:0/10
7.Don't Tell Me: Funny how time mellows one's persepective on things, because just like the aformentioned title track, I used to loathe Don't Tell Me and it's retardulous video like almost nothing else that year pop culture wise. To me back then, Madonna's lyrics about "taking the black of a crow" and the song's country elements screamed of desperation and outright stupidity. But now, in persepective what else Music has to offer, Don't Tell Me while still not one of my favorite Madonna songs by any stretch of the imagination, stands out as one of the most unique and pop friendly songs of the album. And hey whaddya know?.....This one has an actual melody!(looking in Nobody's Perfect's direction!)........SCORE:8/10
8.What It Feels Like For A Girl: And here we go with the dumb, watered down lyrics! For the life of me, I don't understand why Madonna decided it was wise to forsake her songwriting in favor for albieit killer production. M sounds like she's written What It Feels like For A Girl in her sleep and with lyrics bemoaning the fact that she is a woman, that could be her only excuse for the lyrics. Who in their right mind thought this.....this would be a good choice for a single? No doubt it made for an excellent video and even better remix but when it comes down to the content and the context of the original song, the reverse sexism is nothing that Madonna hasn't done before and better!............SCORE:2.5/10
9.Paradise(Not For Me): Originally a track from Madonna's producer buddy Mirwais Ahmadzai's first solo album, Paradise(Not For Me) takes some of the thematical and musical elements from Nobody's Perfect and actually makes them work! The song, reputedly about suicide and the question of an afterlife for those who do commit suicide, finds Madonna singing in French without coming off as pretensious and is oddly beautiful contrasted against the xylophone and string laden production and finds Madonna giving off her best vocal of the entire record............SCORE:10/10
10.Gone: All I gotta say is by the time I finally get to Gone, the tenth track on a shockingly difficult album to listen to all the way through without falling asleep or screaming in frustration at Madonna's unnecessary obnoxiousness, Gone saves the day and I'm too busy getting caught up in one of her Madgesty's most earnestly heartfelt and honestly written songs of her career. And has anyone else but me noticed that the acoustic guitar featured on Gone would be featured prominently on her next album American Life? Gone is a truly excellent album closer on a completely mediocre record......SCORE:11/1O
Well I guess there is a first time for everything, because after months of trying to ignore the fact that I needed review Music, now I know why I was so hesitant in doing so. Everything about this record, save for Impressive Instant and Gone is so underwhelmingly mediocre, and in some cases, a complete chore to even bother to listen to. While the production for the most part is uniformely stellar, something feels missing from the rest of the album, something intangible and irreplaceable to any excellent Madonna album and that would be Madonna herself. On Music, Madonna has lost her voice as a singer and has shown her weaknesses as a songwriter; there is none of the personality or the warmth that one has come to expect from a Madonna project. Quite frankly, Music in my estimation, is Madonna's worst record of the 'oughts and possibly of her entire career. And so goes Music back into my CD collection, thankfully putting this review out of it's misery.
Repeat: "Impressive Instant", "Gone", "Paradise(Not For Me)"
Skip: "I Deserve It", "Nobody's Perfect", "What It Feels Like For A Girl"
Final Rating:2.5/5 (Someone check the weather, because I think Hell just froze over!)
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Great Music to Play While: Hanging With Friends