BuzzJack
Entertainment Discussion

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register | Help )

Latest Artist News
 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> AV Club: Madonna's Greatest Non-Hits
Track this topic - Email this topic - Print this topic - Download this topic - Subscribe to this forum
Medellíam
post Jun 14 2019, 12:30 AM
Post #1
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 36,264
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


Justifying our love: An hour of Madonna’s greatest non-hits

Madonna is modern pop’s original icon, someone whose music and influence will be shared, enjoyed, and debated for decades to come. A capital-S “Star” back when such a thing meant ubiquity without the aid of the internet, her style and substance were inseparable, the forward-thinking approach to both being an integral aspect of her popularity and acclaim over the course of four decades. Superlatives are a given: She’s the bestselling female recording artist of all time, the record holder for most No. 1 tracks on the Billboard charts, and winner of seven Grammys, to name a few. Madonna is a hitmaker with an almost unparalleled knack for finding the cultural zeitgeist, each new release seeming to bring at least one or two songs destined for entry in the pop hall of fame. From “Holiday” to “Like A Prayer,” “Take A Bow” to “Hung Up,” her Billboard chart-toppers are earworms of the highest order.

But a gift for creating radio hits is only half the story. Madonna’s legacy endures not just because of a string of Billboard smashes; she has earned her place in music history by crafting albums that aren’t the usual pop-artist offering of several singles intermixed with a bunch of listless filler. Her albums are carefully curated assemblages of music, often arranged around several musical and conceptual themes that drive each new release. The deep cuts can be just as potent and moving as the internationally renowned hits, which is why we’ve decided to put together this Power Hour of Madonna’s lesser-known works. The rules were simple: No No. 1 Billboard hits, nothing that even entered the Top 40 in the Hot 100 chart. Hell, we even (mostly) avoided songs that appeared on other charts, like Dance Club Songs, where she was a constant presence, or anything released as a single at all. So consider this a chance to get to know the Madonna only her fans know: the artist with a bevy of musical delights lying in wait for those curious enough to unearth them. Here’s 60 minutes’ worth to get you started.

“Think Of Me” (1983)
Right from the start, Madonna announced herself as a major new force in pop music. “Everybody” was the track that landed her a record deal, and became the first single off her eponymous debut. But despite the almost instant smash success of the initial hits—“Holiday,” “Borderline,” “Lucky Star”—the entire album is full of party-ready anthems. “Think Of Me” is a signature example, the thick bass synth bouncing along underneath a handclap rhythm tailor-made for early ’80s dance floors. It’s got a catchy, sing-along refrain, and is filled with lyrics that capture the essence of her initial appeal, a mentality and bravado that became the attitude of empowerment she brought to so many of her fans: Enjoy me while I’m around, because we both know I’m too good for this.

“Over And Over” (1984)
Following the massive success of her debut, Madonna wanted to produce her sophomore LP, Like A Virgin, herself. But when her label wouldn’t allow it, she called upon Nile Rodgers, longtime collaborator of popular music’s other great chameleon, David Bowie. She did get to co-write more than half of the album’s songs, however, including “Over And Over.” Next to tracks like “Material Girl” and “Like A Virgin”—mega-hits that introduced the world to the provocateur Madonna would become—“Over And Over” feels like a footnote, sure, but the fact that a song this ecstatically catchy was never even released as a single is testament to Madge’s surplus of energy and ideas in this era.

“Where’s The Party” (1986)
On True Blue, Madonna became Madonna. Not only was she finally able to co-produce and co-write from album start to finish, but she matured significantly as an artist in every regard. And by incorporating classical and Latin influences into her synth-heavy dance pop, she reached her widest audience yet: True Blue went to No. 1 in an unprecedented 28 countries. Among the few songs here that weren’t huge hits, “Where’s The Party” stands out as yet another perfect ’80s pop confection: the buoyant synth lines, Madonna’s bright, raspy delivery of its anthemic chorus. Very much in the sexy, self-assured feminine mold Madonna herself first cast, “Where’s The Party” is about a woman reclaiming her right to play as hard as she works—a philosophy that’s defined the artist’s own career.

“Promise To Try” (1989)
Her primary contributions to pop can be found on the dance floor, but the Material Girl was no slouch when it came to the ballad game, either. Despite a voice even she admitted couldn’t compete with some of the volcanic singers found among her contemporaries, she knew how to use it to maximum effect. Like A Prayer’s “Promise To Try” exemplifies the affecting nature of her best slow-burn work: The song finds her addressing her own 5-year-old self, bereft in the wake of the loss of her mother. It’s a moving and heartfelt elegy that showcases Madonna’s talent for making highly individual stories feel accessible and universal, a lyrical skill that would serve her well through the years, never more successfully than in later chart-topping ballads like “Take A Bow.”

“Waiting” (1992)
Kicking off with one of the hip-hop-style drumbeats that defined her early ‘90s musical output, “Waiting” captures the languid, sensual vibe of 1992’s Erotica without sacrificing the easy pleasures of a good hook. The attention lavished on her concurrently released Sex book and the discussions about Madonna’s frank explorations of sexuality (and sexual imagery) in the press blitz for the album and art book overshadowed the accompanying music, which is a shame—in hindsight, Erotica is a captivating record, its fusion of house rhythms and trip-hop vibes with her pop sensibilities making for a different kind of Madonna record. As with Justify My Love, she was pushing the boundaries of her sound in new directions, ones that adapted and were influenced by then-current reinventions in club music.

“Sanctuary” (1994)
After the controversy and press circus surrounding Erotica, Madonna refocused her sound and image to be warmer and more accessible. “I’m going to be a good girl, I swear,” she noted coyly in publicity for follow-up Bedtime Stories. Even with contributions from Babyface and Björk, the 1994 record remains fairly underrated in Madonna’s catalog, but “Sanctuary” is a known fan favorite. On the album, the song bleeds into “Bedtime Story,” but in many ways “Sanctuary” feels more organic than its more popular, Björk-penned successor. Having co-written the track, Madonna is much more at home in its melodies and sensual spoken word, and her performance turns what is otherwise a retread of earlier musical themes into a time-tested deep cut.

“Sky Fits Heaven” (1998)
On Ray Of Light, however, Madonna took the avant-electronica of “Bedtime Story” deeper and, with the help of producer William Orbit, found her own expression of it. For all her costume changes over the years, Madonna made a lasting evolution on Ray Of Light, a mediation on new motherhood and newfound spirituality that unexpectedly became one of the best—and bestselling—records of her winding career. “Sky Fits Heaven,” in which Madonna famously adapts a poem by Max Blagg, got a remix by Sasha and Victor Calderone that landed on the dance charts, but the original production is a wonder itself, a transcendent union of Orbit’s experimental European club aesthetics and Madonna’s mainstream pop mastery.

“Impressive Instant” (2000)
Two years after the introspective Ray Of Light, Madonna naturally sought to switch things up, but no one could’ve predicted she’d go from ascetic Geisha to Auto-Tuned cowgirl. The chaotic, carefree Music, which incorporated country and rock influences into the artist’s dance pop, was heavily driven by the choppy production techniques of Mirwais Ahmadzaï. And “Impressive Instant,” which did eventually travel to the top of the dance charts, is a frankly bonkers cut of thumping club euphoria. Not many people can pull off a line like “I like to singy singy singy / Like a bird on a wingy wingy wingy,” but Madonna does it here. In fact, her playfulness is contagious, inspiring the exact kind of surrender Ahmadzaï and she adopted when making it: “Oh, f*** it, let’s just have fun.”

“Love Profusion” (2003)
The fourth and final single from 2003's little-loved American Life, “Love Profusion” technically hit the dance charts, but given it failed to even crack the Hot 100, we’re granting it a pass. And with good reason: While the whole record was initially a bit of a misfire critically and commercially (“misfire” being relative, as the album still eventually went platinum in the U.S.), its luster has been burnished in recent years by a reevaluation of a bold left turn in her pop sound. With a focus on guitars and embrace of the folktronica style, it may have initially confused fans expecting Madonna to continue her dance-floor, arena-ready beats from Music, instead going introspective again (and even political) for a concept album picking apart the scrum of American pop culture—and her place in it. “Love Profusion,” with its strumming chords and thrumming electro beats, is the best of the bunch.

“Get Together” (2005)
Like “Love Profusion,” “Get Together” performed well on dance charts but didn’t crack the Billboard Hot 100, even though it was released as the third single from the epic, beat-driven Confessions On A Dance Floor. Though Madonna had remained a constant on the turntables over the last two decades, regardless of her music’s many different directions, the Stuart Price-produced Confessions was the first explicit, front-to-back dance record from her in ages. “Get Together,” from the album’s lighter first half, is another fan favorite, with an easy, cathartic build and almost meta lyrics, which call back to “Holiday,” “Secret,” and more recently, “Impressive Instant”’s musing on love at first sight.

“She’s Not Me” (2008)
With an old-school disco spirit, there’s an immediacy to “She’s Not Me” that announces Madge’s intention to continue to rule the dance floors of the world. Hard Candy as a whole had an R&B focus—unsurprising, given it’s largely a series of collaborations with Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, and Justin Timberlake—but as opposed to singles like “4 Minutes,” this track doesn’t stray far from its disco/house roots, and showcases Madonna as the still-reigning queen of fizzy, strobe-light club concoctions. At six minutes in length, it exceeds the pop-music mandate for brevity, but that’s house music’s influence. And besides, as Madonna announces halfway through the song, “I know I can do it better.”

“Gang Bang” (2012)
By 2012 Madonna had done it all, and in many cases more than once. No artist, however, had ever done a $120 million promotion deal with Live Nation, and probably no one ever should’ve. Madonna’s first album under the agreement, MDNA, was written in the aftermath of her divorce from Guy Ritchie and should’ve been charged with emotion; instead, it was largely soulless and overproduced, its marketing much more inspired than its music. One big exception is the Orbit track “Gang Bang,” which finds Madge in full method mode as she delivers a Tarantino-inspired tale of lover’s revenge widely interpreted as a dig at her filmmaker ex-husband’s own gangster obsession. Ignoring the dubstep drop, “Gang Bang” shows Madonna at her experimental best.

“Devil Pray” (2015)
The Southern influence rears its head once more on “Devil Pray,” a track from 2015’s Rebel Heart that combines elements of rootsy country-rock with contemporary pop in a manner that recalls nothing so much as Miley Cyrus, albeit with a touch of early Shakira (seen in the mix of Latin pop and Middle Eastern flourishes). Indeed, there are moments in the song when it feels as though Cyrus could’ve sung it—the line “Yeah, we could do drugs and we could smoke weed and we could drink whiskey” certainly feels more casual than Madonna’s usual M.O.—but overall, the track benefits from the grainy texture of the singer’s voice in her later years, which adds a layer of rueful experience to the lyric. Once it erupts into pure synth-aided bliss, however, it belongs to Madonna alone, a reminder of her songwriting savvy even more than 30 years after she first captured our hearts and ears.

(Source: AV Club)
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Medellíam
post Jun 18 2019, 11:22 AM
Post #2
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 36,264
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


That comment about 'Promise to Try' showing Madonna's ability of "making highly individual stories feel accessible and universal" stood out to me as it's one of the main qualities I love about Madonna's music, so I'm glad they picked up on that.

'Waiting' would have made a great single I think, maybe it would have been had it not been for the backlash at the time?

'Sanctuary' is one of my favourites from Madonna's most underrated album. That transition into 'Bedtime Story'! wub.gif 'Sky Fits Heaven', 'Impressive Instant' and 'Get Together' are all highlights too.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
HausofTove
post Jun 18 2019, 07:24 PM
Post #3
Henrietta R Hippo
*******
Group: AF Inner Circle
Posts: 32,037
Member No.: 13,007
Joined: 17-February 11
 


“Think Of Me” (1983)
Decent but overshadowed by the big moments on the album.

“Over And Over” (1984)
I think the LAV singles were picked well - the album tracks are largely forgettable or annoying oops.

“Where’s The Party” (1986)
I unashamedly love this. It doesn't try hard to be anything but joyous and feel good.

“Promise To Try” (1989)
A beauty. One of her best ballads!

“Waiting” (1992)
So catchy - would've made a good single choice.

“Sanctuary” (1994)
As mentioned by Liam, the merge from this into Bedtime Story is incredible. It's such an alluring, mysterious track and contrasts what follows it perfectly.

“Sky Fits Heaven” (1998)
wub.gif A true stunner. The hypnotic beat, her vocals, everything is just sensational.

“Impressive Instant” (2000)
Would fit perfectly on Madame X tongue.gif Glad she's returned to this wacky sound in the latest album - this is ahead of its time!

“Love Profusion” (2003)
Still love this and not sure why it divides some people. Simple yes, but beautiful and heartfelt.

“Get Together” (2005)
One of her best ever songs. Pure perfection. Lyrically and musically 10/10.

“She’s Not Me” (2008)
Love this obviously.

“Gang Bang” (2012)
Explosive and in your face. Too divisive perhaps for a single but to make a statement, i'd have supported it.

“Devil Pray” (2015)
Incredible song - would've been a beautiful single with a daring video.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Medellíam
post Jun 19 2019, 07:14 PM
Post #4
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 36,264
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


QUOTE(HausofTove @ Jun 18 2019, 08:24 PM) *
“Impressive Instant” (2000)
Would fit perfectly on Madame X tongue.gif Glad she's returned to this wacky sound in the latest album - this is ahead of its time!

Agreed! What a single this would have made - if only Madge had her way! I can definitely hear influences of this in 'God Control'. I hope she brings it out on tour.

QUOTE(HausofTove @ Jun 18 2019, 08:24 PM) *
“Love Profusion” (2003)
Still love this and not sure why it divides some people. Simple yes, but beautiful and heartfelt.

I don't get why it divides people either. I know American Life as an album is pretty polarising but surely 'Love Profusion' is one of the 'safer' tracks.

QUOTE(HausofTove @ Jun 18 2019, 08:24 PM) *
“Gang Bang” (2012)
Explosive and in your face. Too divisive perhaps for a single but to make a statement, i'd have supported it.

I wouldn't have had it as a single but would certainly have given it a video to coincide with the album release. Could you imagine?! Always found it strange how something so bold and outrageous came from an album that was generally safe and mediocre.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Qween
post Jun 20 2019, 09:16 PM
Post #5
Miss Rodham, if you're nasty
*******
Group: Veteran
Posts: 29,669
Member No.: 11,709
Joined: 23-August 10
 


Would disagree with Sky Fits Heaven, it’s very good but there are much better moments on RoL that weren’t hits. Love Profusion is pissdribble and Devil Pray is very good (and one of the better examples of “current” sounding songs on Rebel Heart) but again others did the same thing better. I’d have picked Inside Out or the title track over that.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Medellíam
post Jun 22 2019, 01:57 PM
Post #6
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 36,264
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


What would you have chosen for Ray of Light, John? My personal pick would be 'Skin' - I still remember being blown away the first time I heard it; it was so different to my 11/12 year old self was used to but it was just mesmerising.

'Inside Out' is one of my favourites from Rebel Heart although, like a few tracks from that album, it would be lifted further with better mixing. 'Messiah' is probably my top favourite.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Qween
post Jun 28 2019, 05:46 PM
Post #7
Miss Rodham, if you're nasty
*******
Group: Veteran
Posts: 29,669
Member No.: 11,709
Joined: 23-August 10
 


Skin would be my pick too, the production is (for want if a better phrase) lush, it’s so layered and rich and interesting. The song itself is fairly unique, yet also uniquely Madonna. It straddled the line between more the slightly more mystical side of the album and her strong pop sensibilities.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Medellíam
post Jun 28 2019, 10:52 PM
Post #8
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 36,264
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


Absolutely. I think that's probably what drew me to the song as a kid: it's got enough pop appeal but there's something so mysterious about it too. The "do I know you from somewhere?" part is so lush. I remember reading an interpretation that it was about drug taking and it made me think about 'Devil Pray' and how Madonna addresses the ways people try to connect to some sort of higher being through various methods. I thought it was interesting comparing the two.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post


Reply to this topicStart new topic

1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:


 

Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 20th August 2019 - 08:25 PM