Monday, July 29, 2019

100 Albums: "Music" by Madonna

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Madonna
Title: Music
Released: 2000
Genre: dance pop


In my last post I mentioned spending a summer listening to Cake's Fashion Nugget and one other album while playing Super Bomber Man (college... it was a simpler time). Madonna's Music was that other album. I've never considered myself a capital-F fan of Madonna, her radio singles are typically catchy as hell, and she's certainly earned her status as a pop icon. Music is going for a very specific aesthetic, and for whatever reason I am absolutely on board for it, and that aesthetic is Swedish bubblegum in the style of DenniZ PoP and Max Martin. As mentioned in the Ace of Base post, The Sign was the prototype album from a music factory that would completely dominate the pop revival of the late 90s and early aughts, a revival that was in full swing by the time Madonna started work on this album. And while she's drawing from that style, Madonna is a songwriter who'd been a pop start for over a decade at that point. So you don't get Madonna's Swedish pop album so much as you get a Madonna take on Swedish pop.

The result is kind of fascinating, taking pop tropes and spinning them. For example, compare the opening riff of Don't Tell Me (embedded above) to Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way. She's doing the same sort of thing, but instead of layering in more synthetic instruments, she removes things, literally chopping segments out of the guitar line. In Impressive Instant, she sings lyrics that very much feel composed by someone whose first language is not English. The title track overtly borrows elements from West Coast rap (and video featured Sasha Baron Cohen's Ali G character, introducing him to a wider audience). And a few of the tracks are just pure that-era Madonna. Amazing and Runaway Lover are up-tempo dance pop that feel like they could have been on Ray Of Light. Gone is a mournful, if vague, ballad.

Overall it's just a fun record that's, more than anything else, an artist at the top of her game doing what she does best: reinventing herself again but in a very familiar sort of fashion.

Further Listening: Ray Of Light and Bedtimes Stories were also from this era, and while I don't enjoy those albums quite as much, they include the songs Frozen and Secret which are both excellent. I also have a lot of love for Beautiful Stranger from the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack.

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