I finally got a copy of Madonna's album Music on CD and I'm glad I did. I had been holding out because I can't stand to pay $20 for a CD, but the used CD place finally got it in.
Anyway, this is the album in which Madonna indulges what Camille Paglia called her "rhinestone cowgirl phase". I know people were a bit put off by her guitar strummin' (not great, but she just started, for crying out loud!) and Emmy Lou Harris posturing. But, I was surprised to find that it's not really that country. The sound is pretty much like Ray of Light (Mirwais returns to produce a number of songs here) with Madonna playing guitar on only two tracks. Overall, it's a sort of mellow afair- sort of techno folk really.
The first track is Music, which everyone in the world knows by now. But, seriously, it's her best pop dance track in years. Mirwais is as good for Madonna as anybody since Jellybean Benitez. There's something joyful about the song Music that just isn't there in any track I can think of by any other pop queen. And the video! I'm just glad that Maddy realizes that religion can be erotic or she'd be intollerable. The second track is Impressive Instant and it's a bit generic dance music. Not that that will prevent it from being played in gay clubs across the uncivilized world. Just not a single there. 3: Runaway Lover doesn't play well on my CD- Drat! The pitfalls of buying a $6 CD at the used place! 4: I Deserve It is Madonna telling us that she has come a long way, if we weren't aware of that and didn't quite know who she is. "Wasn't she that gal in Who's That Girl?" But, the music is fascinating. It's actually Mirwais playing the guitar as well as producing. It sounds like what will be playing in the first honky tonk on Mars at closing time. Track 5: Amazing is more dance music, pretty much in the vein of Music. This is a bit rougher, crunchier album than Ray of Light. They're having fun here and it makes the whole menu less calculated and hence more enjoyable than anything by Britney, for instance. On the other hand, Madonna is smart as a whip, which I think is why she avoids gonzo dopey Gwen Stefani and her Japanese slaves territory.
Anyway, Nobody's Perfect is weirdo Mirwais programming and Madonna telling us that she does, after all have those regrets that she once promised to have absolutely none of. Apparently, she's grown up, so who can fault her? Acutally, she tells us on I Deserve It that she has no regrets, so maybe she's just bummed. A good for when you've screwed up and in the dumps and sitting on the couch, and miss Sean Penn I suppose. Don't Tell Me was the second single and is a playfully mixed guitar number. Again, she's not playing the guitar, but she played the song on Letterman, so cut her some slack. And, how many pop artists can write lyrics like: "Tell the bed not to lay/ Like the open mouth of a grave/ Not to stare up at me/ Like a calf down on its knees"? Also, I love how the song references Music. Clearly Mo and Mir knew where the strong parts of the album were located. What It Feels Like for a Girl should have been a hit too. Great mellow feminist dance song and it has a great Charlotte Gainsbourg sample. Paradise (Not for Me) is also on Mirwais's solo record and is sort of like robot lounge music. She handles the French section well and it's suitably moody. Gone is also mellow, and is't produced by Mirwais, thank God! And it's another solid song. So, overall I think this album's one of her best. I assume a brainy lady like Camille must know that!
Anyway, I love it. And I've got to say that the rumors of Madonna going downhill are severely overblown. I mean, Ray of Light was a classic and then she followed it up with this album, which is also very strong. It's sort of like Ray of Light had the exuberance of someone finding religion and this album is the more mellow middle aged woman finding herself (yet again). Okay, so American Life wasn't fantastic, but how can one bad album spell the end of her career? She's gotten through worse. You Can Dance wasn't exactly fine art.
Besides, those of us who love Madonna enjoy the fact that she makes missteps. Because, only a true artist would think of combining guitar folk and techno. I mean, you can't exactly call that a calculated commercial move. With all the Britney clones trying to one up each other in overproduced songs about sweat, it's good that there are a few creative souls left.