BuzzJack
Entertainment Discussion

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register | Help )

Latest Artist News
 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Music at 20 ● Anniversary Articles
Track this topic - Email this topic - Print this topic - Download this topic - Subscribe to this forum
Liam.k.
post Sep 23 2020, 01:55 AM
Post #1
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 41,740
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


.


Albumism: Madonna’s ‘Music’ Turns 20 | Anniversary Retrospective
September 13, 2020 | Quentin Harrison

QUOTE
Happy 20th Anniversary to Madonna’s eighth studio album Music, originally released September 18, 2000.

Written and performed by Don McLean, “American Pie” doubled as the introductory single and title to his sophomore album of the same name—both were issued in late 1971. The song was a true slice of folk-rock Americana centered somewhat on the loss of innocence; McLean drew a symbolic parallel to a significant event in American pop culture to flesh out that concept: the deaths of rock idols Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Perry “The Big Bopper” Richardson Jr. in 1959. “American Pie” went on to become a requisite chart smash of its day—edited down from its nearly nine-minute expanse for radio—and achieved critical acclaim. Given all the history associated with McLean’s inaugural take, it was a song not many dared to approach.

The Next Best Thing, the final entry in the venerated oeuvre of film director John Schlesinger, was also Madonna’s penultimate acting venture. Alongside her leading man Rupert Everett, the singer-actress stirred up some charming chemistry. Ultimately though, mixed reviews tanked the flick upon its disclosure on March 3, 2000—however, its soundtrack did curry favor. Among entries from Manu Chao, Christina Aguilera, Moby and Groove Armada (to name some) were two freshly minted tracks from Madonna: “Time Stood Still”—an original—and an ambitious cover of the McLean staple “American Pie.” The latter cut was used as a minor plot device in The Next Best Thing and as the lead-off single for its companion album.

Like “Beautiful Stranger” in 1999, “American Pie” wasn’t commercially put forward as a physical single in the United States—it was confined to an airplay-only release domestically. Overseas, “American Pie” got the proper rollout. Madonna’s sensitive, electro-pop revision—with co-production assistance courtesy of colleague William Orbit—connected with audiences. Specifically, in the United Kingdom, “American Pie” awarded Madonna with her ninth number-one single.

It wasn’t every day that someone could take another individual’s definitive artistic statement, make it their own and turn it into an unequivocal commercial victory 29 years later. Then again, Madonna isn’t just anyone. The “rustic chic” direction of the “American Pie” music video—courtesy of Philipp Stölzl—forecasted what was coming visually for her eighth studio set Music, but sonically, the single was just a mere warm-up for the Queen of Pop.

Due in the second half of 2000, Music promised to be a big payoff in all quarters.

The scripting for Music started in September 1999 and stretched into the incipient half of 2000. Guiding the sessions for the project was Madonna’s desire to maintain the album-oriented cohesion emblematic of Bedtime Stories (1994) and Ray of Light (1998). As she had on those two anterior efforts, a partial “changing of the guard” was enacted, but William Orbit—Madonna’s chief partner on Ray of Light—remained. Together, they drafted “Runaway Lover” and “Amazing,” two selections that revisited the vibrant psychedelics and polite digital accents of “Beautiful Stranger” and “American Pie.”

The expected infusion of new blood was demarcated by additional collaborations with writer-producers Guy Sigsworth, Damian LeGassick, Mark Stent, Talvin Singh and Joe Henry—Madonna’s brother-in-law—all of whom aided in further rounding out the record. However, stationed to primary production and co-writing duties in tandem with Madonna for six sides on Music was Mirwais Ahmadzaï. Their paths crossed at the onset of the album’s birth, à la Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary, when the French song constructionist submitted a demo tape to her Maverick Records imprint for consideration. While Ahmadzaï didn’t end up onboarding at Maverick, his avant-gardist approach sparked an instant connection between both parties.

Opposite to the warming techniques employed for the electronica found on Ray of Light, Music fostered Madonna’s interest in juxtaposing organic and inorganic sounds. Whether it is the serrated, electro-hop edge of the title piece, the amber-hued acoustica of “I Deserve It,” or the string-laden “Paradise (Not For Me)”, Music is an eclectic study of electro-funk, folktronica and chamber pop finery—amongst other sonic textures.

Focusing on the guitar work on “I Deserve It,” the instrument became a lively foil to the twitchy production gadgetry that buzzed on that entry as well as “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Don’t Tell Me.” Although not necessarily in the league of Orbit, Sigsworth or any of the other seasoned guitarists at work on Music, Madonna taught herself to play the acoustic variation of the instrument—this was yet another layer of compositional complexity added to the LP.

Madonna further pursued exploring the aesthetic space between the natural and the artificial as a singer on Music. The limited, artful use of the vocoder—notably on “Impressive Instant” and “Nobody’s Perfect”—is beautifully contrasted against Madonna’s unadorned vocals on “What It Feels Like for a Girl” and “Gone.” The former selection is a stirring examination of girlhood anxieties—crowned with a striking Charlotte Gainsbourg quote from the 1993 film The Cement Garden—that signposts one of two topical arcs that inform the collection: introspection and levity.

Guy Ritchie—the laddish British auteur that romanced (and eventually wed) Madonna during her eighth record’s gestation—was an endless source of inspiration for her. It is likely that the complexities of her relationship with Ritchie were transposed onto “Don’t Tell Me,” an ode to adult love that began life as a product of Joe Henry’s musical imagination as “Stop.” Madonna and Ahmadzaï reworked “Stop” into “Don’t Tell Me” to suit her requirements, thematic or otherwise.

Elsewhere, the spiritual existentialism of Ray of Light sweeps back in on “Paradise (Not for Me)” and “Cyber-Raga.” “Cyber-Raga”—which backed “Music” on its B-side and was assigned to the international iterations of Music along with “American Pie”—saw Madonna return to the mesmeric Sanskrit musings of “Shanti/Ashtangi,” a deep cut from her seventh LP.

The lighter fare on Music proved to be just as gripping as the serious song stock. Not too dissimilar in its narrative structure from “Into the Groove” or “Vogue” is “Music”—a clarion call for unification and expression through dance music culture. However, “Impressive Instant,” “Runaway Love” and “Amazing” use amative attraction—albeit fictional—in its various states as lyrical fuel. Madonna imbues all four selections with a seemingly dichotomous blend of instinctiveness and emotional maturity.

In describing the mystique of the creative process that governed Music in a September 2000 Rolling Stone cover-story interview, Madonna explained, “Creativity is sometimes unconscious, subconscious, conscious—and often it’s a mixture of all three. And to try to explain it sometimes—it’s like talking about love, you know? As soon as you start talking about it, you’ve formed a new opinion about it, and it’s obsolete.”

Released four weeks prior to the album’s arrival, lead single “Music” performed to critical and commercial expectation in every market and its partnering video clip was equally popular. Cleverly disguising her pregnancy—she and Ritchie’s son Rocco was born on August 11th—Madonna took a satirical swipe at the excess of hip-hop culture; her longtime friends Debi Mazar and Niki Harris also star. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (in his “Ali G” persona) acts as the limousine driver escorting Madonna and her gal pals throughout the video’s runtime.

The blockbusting success of Music extended into 2001 with the release of “Don’t Tell Me” and “What It Feels Like for a Girl” as singles; “Impressive Instant” was set-up as a possible fourth single—promotional copies were pressed and remixes commissioned—but it went no farther. “Don’t Tell Me” and “What It Feels Like for a Girl” each made respectable chart headway, however Madonna briefly (and unnecessarily) courted controversy with the video treatment for “What It Feels Like for a Girl.” Supervised by her husband, Madonna exacts violent retribution against the entrenched patriarchal system. Lost underneath the brash, celluloid spectacle—and the ensuing furor it kicked up—was the actual message for “What It Feels Like for a Girl.” A generic electro-pop single edit, remitted by the remix disc jockey duo Above & Beyond, only muddied things more.

That misstep was soon forgotten once Madonna took her show on the road with the “Drowned World Tour” in June of 2001; her fifth concert series was a triumphant reclamation of the stage after a gap of eight years. Madonna capped off her busiest twenty-four-month cycle—up to that point—with GHV2 (2001), her second formal singles compilation.

Two decades parted from its launch, Music is one of four records in a stratum to denote an imperial period for Madonna (creatively) which spanned from 1994 to 2003. I remarked about the staying power of this effort in my book Record Redux: Madonna, “Music proclaimed that Madonna could party, contemplate and sustain her visionary proclivities all on one album.” Music is a singular example that anything was possible for Madonna when she fixed her sights solely upon her craft—only the sky was the limit of her reach in those days.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Liam.k.
post Sep 23 2020, 01:56 AM
Post #2
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 41,740
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


Entertainment Focus: Madonna’s ‘Music’: Looking Back At The Classic Album 20 Years On
By Gary James Published 2 days ago

QUOTE
It’s 20 years since Madonna released her multi platinum Music album.

It’s been 20 years since Madonna released her ‘Music’ album. Decked as a cowgirl on the album cover, ‘Music’ is an eclectic group of tracks that gave us electro-clash, funky r&b, trippy dub and a cover of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ bolted on to the end.

Coming two years after her critically acclaimed ‘Ray of Light’ album, Madonna launched the ‘Music’ era with the title track of the album. A tribute to music bringing everyone together, the track itself mixes funk, R&B and electro to make an irresistible dancefloor classic. It sounded fresh, yet familiar at the same time. Madonna even got outrageous comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to bring his controversial Ali G character as her limo driver in the video. Let’s remind ourselves of the video below:

The track shot straight to the top of the Official UK Singles Chart giving her an amazing 10th No.1 (she remains the female artist with the most UK Number 1 singles today with 13). Madonna co-wrote the track with French record producer and songwriter Mirwais who also worked on several other tracks on the album. It was the start of a winning partnership and she has gone on to work with Mirwais on further studio albums ‘American Life’, ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor’ and her latest masterpiece ‘Madame X’. His unique vocal-chopping and effects played strongly into created the electroclash sound of the album. Perhaps this is most apparent on track two of the Music album, Impressive Instant. This track is definitely a highlight for me and contains the hooky lyric ‘I like to singy, singy, singy. Like a bird on a wingy, wingy, wingy.’ Not many artists could get away with that but Madonna and Mirwais pull that off with aplomb.

The album followed the title track to Number 1 on the UK charts at the end of September 2000, spending two weeks at the summit and staying in the Top 100 for a whole year (in total it’s had 73 non-consecutive weeks in the Top 100). A second official single was released in the form of the more mellow ‘Don’t Tell Me’, in December 2000.

An album standout (and Top 10 Madonna for me!) again written by Madonna and Mirwais and based on a song that Madge’s brother-in-law Joe Henry had written called ‘Stop’. Madonna and Mirwais completely changed the sound of the track but kept its defiant message. The video sees Madonna going full cowgirl as she walks a (treadmill) road before pulling out some cowgirl kicks and being joined by dancers to give us some country moves.

The third and final official single from the ‘Music’ album, ‘What It Feels Like For A Girl’, is still particularly relevant today as Madonna makes a political statement about the treatment of women vs men. Released in the Spring of 2001, it gave Madonna another Top 10 UK single when it peaked at Number 7. The video was directed by her then husband Guy Ritchie and uses a remix version of the track as Madonna crashes cars, steals money and generally acts like a bad ass.

How is the rest of the album? I’ve already mentioned my love for ‘Impressive Instant’ and that’s followed by the William Orbit produced ‘Runaway Lover’ which continues the almost otherworldly feel. It’s a great pair of upbeat electro dance tracks that following ‘Music’, set the album off to a great start. Track 4, ‘I Deserve It’, slows things right down with a simple acoustic guitar leading into gentle beats, all with Madonna in storyteller mode. This is followed by a track that would’ve fit perfectly on the ‘Ray of Light’ album, ‘Amazing’, another collaboration with William Orbit.

Another album highlight for me is ‘Nobody’s Perfect’. Starting with Madonna whispering in what sounds like a float tank, it soon gives way to heavily distorted and vocoded vocals coupled with a guitar and a hypnotic, persistent beat it’s a beautiful mid-tempo number.

Perhaps one of the albums mis-steps for me is ‘Paradise (Not for Me)’, which is a bit too trippy and out there as Madonna uses spoken word counterbalanced with robotic vocal effects. She even sings one of the verses in French. Then there’s ‘Gone’, which is much more stripped back affair using acoustic guitar and Madonna’s vocal to maximum effect. It’s a laidback mid tempo number that was produced by William Orbit, Madonna and Mike Stent who worked on ‘Bedtime Stories’ as well as with artists such as Massive Attack and Björk to name just a few.

At the end of the album is Madonna’s take on Don McLean’s classic ‘American Pie’ which is considered a bonus track for fans. It was released prior to the album in March 2000 and also appears on the soundtrack to ‘The Next Best Thing’, a film starring Madonna alongside Rupert Everett. The song was Madonna’s ninth UK Number 1 hit and was produced by William Orbit. It’s not my favourite of her singles but vocally she sounds strong.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Liam.k.
post Sep 23 2020, 01:57 AM
Post #3
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 41,740
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


Stereogum: THE ANNIVERSARY | Music Turns 20
Tom Breihan @tombreihan | September 18, 2020 - 10:59 am

QUOTE
“This is the future of sound.” This was Madonna, talking to Billboard in August of 2000. She was describing the French producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï, her main collaborator on her new album Music — and, by extension, she was describing her new album itself. Madonna has a long history of making imperious and slightly ridiculous statements, and this one certainly seems like it belongs on the list. But she wasn’t exactly wrong.

Music, an album that will turn 20 tomorrow, anticipated a lot of things: Thudding big-room electro-house, aggressive vocal manipulation, ecstatic lyrical meaninglessness, acoustic guitars chopped up and refracted into unrecognizable shapes, joyous hedonism, robot voices, the half-ironic embrace of cowboy kitsch. Madonna didn’t invent any of these things, but most of them had been just about absent from mainstream pop music around the turn of the millennium. Madonna dove giddily into all of them, and many of those decisions would prove prescient. Looking back at the past 20 years of pop music, you will see a whole lot of Music. Maybe this stuff wasn’t the future of sound, but it was the future of something.

Music followed just two years after Madonna reinvented herself as a spiritual dance-music mystic on Ray Of Light, an album that at least gestured toward singer-songwriter profundity. Madonna had just become a mother and gotten interested in things like Kabbalah and Hinduism, and she sought to actively move past the plastic excess of her ’80s roots, working with the English producer William Orbit to find something softer and deeper. This was a canny move in a career full of them; Ray Of Light was a tremendous success. But two years later, Madonna made another hard pivot away from that, and her decision would prove just as canny.

Madonna had played around with the idea of touring behind Ray Of Light. Instead, she acted — first taking a role in Wes Craven’s Music Of The Heart, then dropping out of that and starring instead in the mostly-forgotten 2000 romance The Next Big Thing. Along the way, she got pregnant once again, and she spent her pregnancy working on a new LP. Madonna’s son Rocco was born a month before Music came out; she was five months pregnant when she shot the video for “Music,” the most recent of her 12 #1 hits. (Rocco’s father was Madonna’s future ex-husband, the British crime-caper filmmaker Guy Ritchie. Later on, Ritchie would direct Madonna in her “What It Feels Like For A Girl” video and in the disastrous 2002 flop Swept Away.)

Madonna again worked with William Orbit, who produced most of the least-interesting songs from Music. But the main force behind the album’s sound was Mirwais, a 40-year-old French producer who’d once been in a new wave band called Taxi Girl. Mirwais’ sound — sleek, robotic, rooted in house and disco, clean to the point where it was almost harsh — owed a whole lot to the French filter-house of the late ’90s, Daft Punk in particular. But then, Daft Punk probably owed something to Taxi Girl, so maybe it all comes out in the wash. Guy Oseary, the co-founder of Madonna’s Maverick label, had given Madonna a Mirwais CD, thinking that maybe Mirwais would be a good signing for the label. Instead, Madonna instantly decided that Mirwais would be the ideal collaborator.

At first, things didn’t work out quite so smoothly. Mirwais spoke no English, and his manager had to translate for him at the recording sessions, which drove Madonna nuts. Eventually, though, things clicked. Early in her career, Madonna had been a product of early-’80s club culture. Working with Mirwais, she recaptured some of that euphoric frivolity. Her lyrics on the clubbiest Music tracks can sometimes verge on gibberish: “Do you like to boogie-woogie?,” “I like to singy-singy-singy like a bird on a wingy-wingy-wingy.” But that meaninglessness worked for her. She sounded like she was having fun.

Mirwais put Madonna’s voice over mechanized thumps and fed it through voice-warping filters, giving her a cyborg sheen. On some level, this gleaming artificiality may have been a reaction to Cher, who’d had a global late-career smash with “Believe” a year and a half earlier. Cher had sung over Euro-house thump and used the brand-new Auto-Tune plug-in to make herself sound practically alien. But Cher was still working within a pretty standard ’90s dance-pop framework. Madonna’s hard, blocky sonics were fresher and cleaner, and they gave her a weird resonance in an era of dominant teen-pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. (Kylie Minogue, Madonna’s fellow ’80s survivor, pulled off something similar on her Fever album a year later.)

Not everything on Music has the future-shock power of the album’s best tracks. Many of the tracks that Madonna recorded with William Orbit are so supremely late-’90s that they were practically dated by the time the album came out. (“Amazing,” for instance, sounds uncomfortably similar to “Beautiful Stranger,” Madonna’s own single from the soundtrack of the 1999 movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.) Also, there are ballads on Music, and many of those ballads are pretty boring. One of them, though, is among the most sublime singles that Madonna ever recorded.

Joe Henry, a culty country-rock singer-songwriter who happens to be married to Madonna’s sister, had written a Tom Waits-ish song called “Stop”; he later included it in his 2001 album Scar. Madonna heard Henry’s demo of the song, and she loved the lyrics. So she and Mirwais radically reworked the track, rebuilding it around an acoustic guitar that stops and starts in jagged, disorienting ways. “Don’t Tell Me,” the resulting Madonna song, builds and builds, layering on film-score strings and twangy accents and robo-whine backing vocals. “Don’t Tell Me” is pretty, but it’s also strange and itchy and ungainly. It sounds like sentient-droid alien life forms intercepting Earthling radio waves and then attempting to write their own Sheryl Crow song. The track delights in its own artificiality; in the video, Madonna swaggers down a dusty desert highway that turns out to be a studio screen-projection. For my money, it’s the last truly great Madonna single.

That artificiality was front-and-center all through the Music album cycle. In the “Music” video, Madonna played a fur-coat pimp, riding limos to strip clubs and sometimes turning into a cartoon character. (The British stunt-comic Sacha Baron Cohen, in his Ali G guise, got his first real taste of American exposure as the limo driver. Without the “Music” video, maybe Borat doesn’t happen.) In the goofily provocative “What It Feels Like For A Girl” clip, the second of Madonna’s videos to be banned from MTV, Madonna goes on a cinematic femme-fatale crime spree.

On the Music album cover and on tour, Madonna wore campy cowgirl gear, getting as far as she could from the gothy earth-mother looks she was rocking in the Ray Of Light era. It all feels like a conscious effort to strip away any lingering shreds of ’90s-style sincerity. Smart move. Very few of Madonna’s peers — maybe Kylie Minogue, possibly Janet Jackson — were able to handle the new-century zeitgeist that intuitively.

It didn’t last. Music was a smash — a triple platinum album that debuted at #1 and launched two top-10 singles and a lucrative global tour. But by the time she made her next album, the forced and grating 2003 flop American Life, Madonna was playing catch-up to electroclash. Madonna has had hits in the past 20 years, but most of those hits have been attempts to pander to the tastes of the moment, not to drive those tastes. Still, give Madonna credit. In the summer of 2000, 17 years into her pop-star career, a 42-year-old Madonna could talk about “the future of sound.” And she could be right.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Liam.k.
post Sep 23 2020, 01:59 AM
Post #4
BuzzJack Legend
*******
Group: Chart Mod
Posts: 41,740
Member No.: 12,472
Joined: 8-December 10
 


Grammys: Music Makes The People Come Together: 20 Years Of Madonna's 'Music'
ZEL MCCARTHYGRAMMYS SEP 19, 2020 - 7:55 AM

QUOTE
Released in 2000, the Queen of Pop's five-time GRAMMY-nominated album is the work of an artist who has plenty to say, but nothing to prove—a reminder of a less complicated time and a blueprint for our future.

In the year 2000, America was sharply divided. A new generation of singers had lip-synced and danced its way to the top of the charts and the front of the pop culture proscenium with material Auto-Tuned to Pro Tools perfection. The (mostly rock) music establishment loudly decried the new pop as artifice and asserted the integrity of music made with analog instruments.

At the time, assessing the validity of popular music loomed larger than the growing threat of MP3 downloads that would eventually upend the entire record industry. Madonna had been through these kinds of polemics before, herself a frequent subject of musical legitimacy debates. But nearly two decades into her career, she had seemed to quiet her most ardent critics.

Her seventh studio album, 1998's Ray of Light, had been the best-reviewed record of her career thus far, earning five GRAMMY nominations and winning three, including Best Pop Album, in 1999. Along with a pair of soundtrack singles, the album had maintained Madonna's presence on radio into the summer of 2000. On MTV's "Total Request Live," her videos played between those from upstart stars half her age, many of whom would cite her as an inspiration. In a contentious cultural landscape, Madonna occupied the highly coveted overlapping space of critical credibility and popular viability.

Ray of Light struck gold by embracing Björk- and Massive Attack-esque electronica, thanks largely to the work of the album's primary producer, William Orbit. However, as a genre, electronica had yet to live up to predictions that it would dominate the U.S. as it had Europe. In combination with Madonna's reputation for reinvention, this only drove expectations higher for how she would follow her latest career highpoint.

"Music," the lead single and title track of her eighth studio album, struck the airwaves like an intergalactic robot in August 2000, heralding a new sound for Madonna and the arrival of 21st-century pop music. With its digitally modified instruments, arpeggiated synths and a chorus Madonna says was inspired by the crowd at a Sting concert, "Music" combined elements of electronic and analog to create an anthem of unity on the dance floor. The Jonas Åkerlund-directed music video—featuring a pre-Borat Sacha Baron Cohen as his character, Ali G—seemed to skewer the decadence of late-'90s hip-hop bling while also revelling in it. We see a pimp-suited Madonna getting into the groove, relishing a night at the strip club with her girls and fending off creeps like a boss, all filmed while she was five and a half months pregnant.

On the strength of its lead single, Music released in the U.S. on September 19, 2000, via Madonna's Maverick imprint under Warner Bros. and opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, her highest-charting album in over a decade. Although critics didn't gush over Music with quite the same enthusiasm as they had its predecessor, the album moved millions of physical copies in its first few weeks, eventually going on to garner triple-platinum certification in the U.S. It ultimately earned five total GRAMMY nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album and Record Of The Year for "Music" in 2001 and Best Short Form Music Video for "Don't Tell Me" in 2002. (Former Maverick Records art director and designer Kevin Reagan, who designed the album, won for Best Recording Package in 2001.)

In an effort to introduce the Queen of Pop to a new generation of fans, the album's promo campaign combined the traditional (a terrestrial radio premiere, a Rolling Stone cover story) with the new (an AOL listening party/live chat, a livestreamed club performance) over a timeline that seems enviably long by today's standards. Comparisons to more junior pop artists on the charts and airwaves swirled around her, but Madonna avoided miring herself in the muck.

Instead, for an exclusive performance at New York City's 3000-capacity Roseland Ballroom that November, Madonna took the stage wearing a Dolce & Gabbana-designed T-shirt emblazoned with the name Britney Spears. For her performance at MTV's European Music Awards later that month, she wore a similar shirt that said Kylie Minogue. "It's my celebration of other girls in pop music," she said backstage at the EMAs, praising the younger women before adding, somewhat cheekily, "I think they're the cutest."

Such spontaneous statements of support and admiration are almost boringly common now, but in an era when pop music had been denied entry into the credibility club, the moment held more weight. Though the press loved to pit female pop stars against each other at the turn of the century as much as it does now, musically, there wasn't much rivalry between them. With Spears still steeped in the sounds of Swedish pop on Oops!… I Did It Again and Minogue diving into disco on Light Years, Madonna had crafted a sound of her own on Music.

While Orbit returned for several tracks on the album, the majority of Music was co-helmed by the relatively unknown French producer Mirwais Ahmadzaï. Like his contemporaries in the French touch electronic scene (Daft Punk, Air, Rinôçérôse), Mirwais was unabashed in his affection for American music of the '70s, including the funk and R&B influences of house. Those influences, paired with his proficiency in production, worked well with Madonna's penchant for pop hooks, resulting in an LP whose sonic textures included space-age fills, guitar-washed in computerizing effects, and vocals that alternate between alien and intimate.

Music's second track, the distorted and ravey fan favorite "Impressive Instant," is a high-BPM ode to a trippy first encounter that sounded then like nothing anyone had heard before—20 years later, it still does. On the opposite end of the spectrum, closing track "Gone" is a stark and straightforward crooner made glorious by the fortitude of Madonna's vocals, selectively layered with exacting control.

As an album, Music is a masterclass in juxtaposition that disguises some of its strangest elements in familiarity. Where futuristic production might distract, it's moderated by traditional instrumentation. This plays out most noticeably on second single, "Don't Tell Me." It's hard to hear the track's opening guitar riff without thinking of the album's disco cowboy visual aesthetic come to life in the Jean-Baptiste Mondino-directed video. The record soundtracking the sparkly western shirts and synchronized line dancing is downright audacious in how it interweaves acoustic guitar—played by Madonna herself—with midtempo dance beats, cushioned by country strings, all building to a crescendo in the final chorus. "Don't Tell Me" so effortlessly realizes the misbegotten '90s vision of folktronica that it sounds just as fresh today as it did in 2000.

As a mainstay of '90s soft rock radio, Madonna was no stranger to love songs. Given the magnitude of her celebrity, the details of her personal life were bound to color how listeners heard Music's more personal lyrics. Two decades later, the declarations of love on "I Deserve It," presumably intended for then-boyfriend, husband-to-be Guy Ritchie, feel just as authentic now, long after their relationship ended. In contrast to the frequent unironic materialism expressed by today's celebrity pop stars, Music excelled at showing the former "Material Girl" in self-reflection. Its genius is how that introspection comes across as relatable and real, even when sung to highly synthesized beats by one of the biggest stars in the world.

For all its ebullience, at only 10 tracks and clocking in just under 45 minutes, Music is a model of restraint. It's the work of an artist who has plenty to say, but nothing to prove. And while her status as an innovator is deserved, Music shows how Madonna is an even better interpreter, fluent in musical languages across genres and capable of hewing them to her vision.

Although Music faces forward to the new century, its unencumbered joyfulness is a bittersweet vestige of the uncomplicated '90s. When she wielded her axe on stage for the kickoff of the Drowned World Tour in June 2001, it was a subtle statement of sorts, expressing Madonna's own defiance of music rules: She could be both rock and pop, analog and digital, acoustic and electronic. But by the time that tour wrapped in Los Angeles on September 15, 2001, nobody cared about that debate anymore.

While she had deftly eschewed the petty cultural battles between genres and generations, the world had changed dramatically in the first year since the release of Music. The message would be muddled in years to come, but in that moment, Madonna was uniquely prepared to be a voice for unity with one simple yet inarguable statement: Music makes the people come together.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
HausofGhibli
post Sep 23 2020, 08:01 PM
Post #5
Henrietta R Hippo
*******
Group: Global Mod
Posts: 41,207
Member No.: 13,007
Joined: 17-February 11
 


Loving all of these articles! An iconic era getting the attention it deserves heart.gif
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: 22nd October 2020 - 06:10 PM