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April 28, 2003

Madonna - American Life

Madonna does it right, yet again

I'm confused. I look at the top selling singles chart and see mostly dross from new young artists. Is no one interested in buying music these days that has a little integrity? Pop Idol and their ilk have a large part to play, but the rot really set in with Steps and S Club a few years back. So why am I confused? Well, Madonna has been making top quality pop music for over 20 years and can still wipe the floor with everyone else around. So why aren't the record companies recognising this, why are they consistently pushing MTV friendly, clear faced, bland pap at us, instead of marketing real talent that may have a shelf life of more than 15 minutes.

OK, rant over. This is a tremendous CD, and once you've finished listening to it for the first time, you'll immediately click the play button again and go round for another turn. In fact, like me, you may find that you play it six times on the trot and only stop because it's past your bedtime, oh, and then you'll stick it on the walkman for the journey to work.

So what makes it so good? real lyrics about things that matter (if a bit self indulgent); a super cool combination of acoustic guitars and analogue synths sounds mixed up and produced to perfection with some great timing tricks that really get your toes tapping; Madonna's vocal, though never a really great voice, is a reliable one that you recognise in these homogenous days which is a big bonus; the sheer hummability of the melodies; and the overall feeling that this hasn't simply been produced just to make money, the people involved are interested in music, and in making the best damned CD they can.

I do have a couple of complaints, just to prove I'm not just a dedicated sad Madonna fanboy. The vocal is pure on some tracks, but has had some serious electronic tricks played with it on others, and on some of these it is so distorted I had to check my stereo equipment to see if it was OK. If you've ever played a vinyl record, and had the needle get covered in dust, this is the way some tracks sound throughout. This is overdone, and some cheap speakers just won't be able to handle it. The second thing is the swearing on the title track, this was a bit unnecessary, and because of it I'll be keeping the CD away from my children.

I'd like to do a track by track analysis, but haven't time now, so briefly I think that Love Infusion and Easy Ride are the most beautiful tracks to listen to, and Die Another Day is the best of the over-engineered synthpop ones.

Madonna is still making interesting music, and other pop acts have quite a way to go to catch up. Radiohead and Coldplay haven't got much to worry about, that's a different market, but in pop terms, I'm struggling to think of anyone else in her league nowadays.

Posted by se71 at April 28, 2003 03:15 PM


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