Saturday, December 12, 2009

452. Music- What a blandly descriptive title.

Album: Music.

Artist: Madonna

Year: 2000

Genre: Pop.


1. Music
2. Impressive Instant
3. Runaway Lover
4. I Deserve It
5. Amazing
6. Nobody's Perfect
7. Don't Tell Me
8. What It Feels Like for a Girl
9. Paradise (Not for Me)
10. Gone

And so we come to the publicity machine that is Madonna. With the possible exception of the late Michael Jackson, there is no one else on this list whose personal life is in danger of swamping their musical output. For every hit single Madonna has racked up she’s had a thousand headlines in the press for other reasons. Whether it’s featuring in her own hardcover book of softcore pornography; failing or succeeding in attempts to save the third world one adoption at a time; receiving critical canings for her acting attempts; marrying or breaking up with people less famous than herself; launching into X-rated tirades on talk shows or having religious epiphanies of a variety of flavours, she does tend to dominate the headlines. No matter how loud you crank her CD’s it’s hard for her music to rise above the volume of press chatter about her private life. The one thing that has kept Madonna a viable musical force rather than a tragic joke is her ability to always look like she’s in control. Unlike other female pop stars, Madge never looks like she’s basically a puppet having her strings pulled by record execs. She’s the woman in charge. It’s made her admired and respected by large sections of the record buying public but feared and loathed by lots of others who you get the impression are just waiting for her to make a massive musical mistake.

Music isn’t a huge mistake but it labours under the weight of some stylistic choices that set it up for a lot of flack. The first choice was to bring in a French music producer with an Arabic name, which was never going to go down well with the American record buying public who on the whole aren’t fans of the French or anything that even faintly resembles Islam. But the name wasn’t the problem as much as letting Mirwais Ahmadza├» dick about with her vocals. The production on Music is mainly electronic with percussion and instrumentation sounds that don’t come from any recognizable instruments. In addition to layering all sorts of sonic weirdness behind Madge’s vocals, Mirawais also used a vocoder to play with Madonna’s singing. I’ve never seen a vocoder but I’ve heard what they do so I imagine it looks like a small, sinister, black box with pentagrams in the side, bloodstains on a front and a faint sulphurous smell. Actually it’s probably not even a physical entity, it comes on a CD and gets installed on one of the many computers in the control room. Either way the end result is that Madge’s voice can be sped up, slowed down and made to do that digital burping thing where she holds a note and the vowel sounds can rise, fall or hiccup on the whim of the producer. What comes across louder than the actual vocals is the message that Madonna sends to her fans which is that she’s surrendered control over what’s going on. Her voice is Madge’s most concrete contribution to an album and when she lets someone turn that into yet another instrument to be manipulated it suggests Music isn’t a Madonna album anymore it’s a Mirawais release that she’s just doing session work on. It’s as much his album as hers anyway, he cowrote most of the songs, he worked as producer and he created all the background soundscapes- why should she get all the credit just because she looks better in the video clips?

Madge’s second biggest mistake was including her version of American Pie as a bonus track on the CD released in most countries. If you type “worst cover version” into google and then look at the lists it kicks up you will find Madonna’s American Pie on all of them. It’s a lifeless rendition of a much loved classic that sounds like someone going through the motions without really understanding what motions are actually required. Mistake number three was admitting that she didn’t want the version included on the album but was forced into it by Record Executives. Madonna should never admit that she did anything because Record Execs made her. It totally kills the “Madonna is her own boss” image which serves her so well. The minute she lets that pretense die she gets crucified by the sort of people who loathe her enough to vote American Pie among the worst covers of all time when there are far more heinous desecrations of much loved songs out there.

As to the music itself, Music is an attempt to blend pop and dance. I’d possibly call it “pance” music if only I wasn’t… actually scrap that, I’m going to have to call it pance music because I’ve typed it now and it’s made me giggle so pance music it is. I’m not really familiar with much pance music since I’m not really much of a pancer. I rarely pance to be honest and so I can’t claim to be much of an authority. But this strikes me as a better example of the genre although I think it works more effectively when it moves into pop territory than dance. I Deserve it allows Madonna the most scope to showcase her voice without Vocoder and it sounds pretty good, the girl can sing. Shame her clown of a producer decided what she needed in the background was the sound of alarms going off.

Highlight: The title track, which includes the only sung use of the word Bourgeois outside of a communist marching song.

Lowlight: The alarms going off behind I Deserve it.

Influenced by: European dance music.

Influenced: European Dancers.

Favourite Amazon Customer review quote: “Welcome to TeamLamb, an organized team of Mariah Carey fans. Our purpose is to keep Mariah, the biggest female musical icon of all time, on top.

Unfortunately, the no-talent ****, Madonna, is still being referred to as the "Queen of Pop," even though her most recent album, American Life, and her Reinvention Tour have really made her the "Queen of Flops." Madonna used to be successful, but that's because she slept her way to the top. Mariah, on the other hand, has sold millions of records based solely on her amazing talents and being a great role model.

Mariah has had sixteen number one singles. Her last two number one singles, "We Belong Together" and "Heartbreaker" have broken worldwide records everywhere. Mariah's most recent Charmbracelet tour was a critically acclaimed smash that played to millions all over the world. Roger Friedman, a well respected music journalist, called the concert one of the greatest he's seen in the past ten years. Mariah is, indeed, the biggest musical sensation since the Beatles.

Within the next couple months, Madonna will try to take away Mariah's crown by releasing "Confessions on a Dance Floor" along with the single, "Hung Up." There seems to be a lot of buzz , but most of it seems generated by Madonna's desperate, pathetic fans. TeamLamb will do everything we can to make this project a flop for Madonna. We will organize by calling radio stations and telling them how much we don't like her new songs, write letters to several magazines and confirm that she is, indeed, over, and spread negative messages about Madonna on several Internet blogs.”

-Weird. What’s amazing is the reviewer gave Music five stars. Talk about a mixed message.

So does this music make your people come together or would you rather turn it off? Let me know below.

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