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Forgot About Friday/Madonna/’American Life’

There are many questions that arise when it comes to discussing Madonna‘s ninth studio album, American Life. Is it good? Is it bad? What the fuck what she thinking? But if there’s one thing can be absolutely be agreed upon, is that it’s certainly the most forgotten about record of her entire career. 

Served to hungry Madonna headphones on April 21, 2003, Madonna once again linked up with Music co-conspirator Mirwais Ahmadzaï to cook up a concept album that references many parts of American culture, including themes of the American Dream(which we heard Madonna rap about in the albums title track. Sigh..)and Material Girl-ism. The album was a complete 360 then the newly restrained Madonna that we were used to by that point, instead we were served with a diva who was (maybe?) a little angry and just musically realized that maybe nothing…was what it seemed. 

Now, is American Life a bad album? Yes and no. Madonna’s dark, daring folk-strummed eccentricities work at times, but the set drags along at times to retain the same pop consistency of all of her records. But judging by the controversial video for the title track (no need to politically rehash. #justmusichere), you could tell that Madonna didn’t set out to a make fluffy record this time around. So, really, it wasn’t her fault. Right?

While American Life received mixed reviews from most music critics, it still marched into the #1 spot, selling a decent 272, 000 copies its first week. There are a handful of standout tracks on the set, including the Botox-ed up second single, “Hollywood,” the spooky background choir vocals on “Nothing Fails” will destroy your music soul, and even tracks “Love Profusion,” “Nobody Knows Me” and “Mother and Father,” still play out out electronically wise beyond their years. Even Madonna’s James Bond theme, “Die Another Day,” pops up towards the end. Hey, it’s not the worst song on the set…there’s always the title track. 

Whatever the music case may be with Madonna’s long-lost Life she still laughed all the way to the bank that year. Not only did the album to lead Madonna to link up with Missy Elliot for all…those…priceless Gap commercials, but it also led her to Britney (and Xtina, too) for that infamous VMA smooch. Throw in the music fact that it also became the inspiration for Madonna’s wildly successful Re-Invention Tour, and Her Madgesty was certainly living her American music dream. 

Most critics unanimous vote about ‘American Life,’ is that it was “about Madonna.” But then again, isn’t it always? 

 

 

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5 Reasons Why You Should Listen to Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ Right This Second

“You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be
You’re frozen
When your heart’s not open”

Coos a breathy, newly conformed Madonna on her chilly late-’90s smash, “Frozen,” a song that would not only deliver an accompanying gothic desert draped video that had all of us clutching our Madonna pearls when it premiered on MTV (Feb 16th, 1998. to be exact.), but the somber sonnet would also hold the key into Madonna’s brilliantly beautiful Ray of Light music gates.

After returning to pop music to get her Lourdes and Evita on, Ms. Madonna linked up with legendary techno producer William Orbit as her collaborator for the project in what was indeed an esteemed effort to keep her music claws sharp in staying on top of contemporary music trends-and it worked like an “Ashtangi” charm.

Because of Madonna and Orbit’s subtle, brilliant attack they took the eccentricities of electronica to new levels while managing to retain Madonna’s foundation-her feisty flair for soaring pop melodies. Together, the dynamic duo succeeded in creating what was the first mainstream pop album that embraced techno..and got it right.

Also, Madonna’s vocals were just simply on point. While, yes, Light is one of her most adventurous music rides, the album soars because of the wonderfully constructed Evita-like mannerisms of Madonna’s precise singing. Whether it’s on the electronically twisted title track, the whispering opener, “Substitute for Love,” the Molly-dripping, “Skin,” or the mind numbing, “Frozen,” Ray of Light is just that record.

Here at Philly Mixtape, we would never ask you stop what you’re doing in your day, but when it comes to Ray of Light, you absolutely need to get lost in Madonna’s Grammy-winning set right this second–and here are 5 reasons why.

 

1.It’s the perfect record for those “ugh” days…

While we all wish everyday to be as perky as Kelly Ripa, we indeed all have those days when we’re feeling more like Fiona Apple in ’96. Lucky for all of us, Madonna served us with the perfect album for when you just want to zen out and not smack somebody with your Boy Toy belt.

Blessed with a set list of wild, whirling grooves, deep tones, and lyrics about coming closer to just maybe figuring it all the f#$k out, (I mean, “Sky Fits Heaven“..bliss.), Madonna’s wonderful seventh studio set not only showcased a tremendous amount of growth for her as an artist, but her fans also grew up;basking in a record that still has the ability to musically lift us up no matter what kind of Britney-in-’07 day were having. 

2.It will take your workout to new spiritual levels…

Planning on hitting the gym today? Or, maybe you’ll be doing some yoga and Pilates in a room full of hotties? Well, you need to immediately turn on the Light and prepare to really put the Jane back in your Fonda during your workout while getting musically served with this classic record.

The opening orbs of “Drowned World/Substitute for Love” will play out perfectly for those opening stretches. The deep house decadence of “Nothing Really Matters” will have you hitting that bench press for your life, and the wonderfully weird electro-drums of “Ashanti/Shantagi” will have you getting into yoga positions you never thought possible.

But indeed, it’s the album’s title track that really gets the blood pumping with its heart-attack inducing Orbit throb, which is blended with perfection to coincide with Madonna’s zephyr-licious vocals.

Ready…set….Stair Master.

3.It’s a ’90s record….that doesn’t sound ’90s at all.

While Light was served up in the ’90s, it doesn’t have the feel or the sound of the sometimes musically ratchet decade. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like 2015. Meaning that Madonna and Orbit knew what they were doing by creating a world of sounds that were meant to be in a futuristic time warp of their very own.

The murky music tones of “Swim” still play out like an apocalyptic anthem-for-the-ages. The Jetsons-esque vibe of  “Skin” still feels like something Rosie would get down to in an after hours dance club in the future. Even softer Light spots, “To Have and Not To Hold,” “Little Star,” and third single,”The Power of Goodbye” still contain the strength to make that music love kick in just a little bit harder.

4.All those remixes….

While each of the offerings on Ray of Light were already tailor-made for the dance floor of life, a handful of legendary DJs came along and pretty much took every track from Madge’s synth-soaked set and turned them into an even better versions of themselves. 

The most daring remix during the Ray of Light era (for more, click here) came when DJ legends Peter Rauhofer and Victor Calderone took the spaced-out “Skin” and turned it into even more a futuristic music mind fuck than it already is. You just have to put those headphones on and listen….right now.

5.It’s one of Madonna’s best records. Red strings down. 

If you were to ask any Madonna fan what their favorite Queen of Pop album is, there’s no doubt that each and every answer would be different. But if you were to ask them to make a list of their top 3 favorite Madge studio sets, Ray of Light is the one album that would be on everybody‘s lists.

Not only is Madonna’s incredible music journey just all wrapped in great music, but it still stirs up all of the right music feelings and emotions. Ms. Ciccone’s Ray of Light also still plays out like breath of fresh of air that it was nearly 20 years ago–and that’s the best part.

“Shanti/Ashtangi” for life.

 

 

 

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Madonna Summer Groove of the Day/”Human Nature”

Whenever we musically throw it back to the summer of  ’95, there’s pretty much only one video that comes to mind-the S&M-baked visual for “Human Nature,” the fourth single released from Madonna’s dreamy sixth album, Bedtime Stories.

Recorded as a big ol’ “fuck you” to critics after they had written the Material Girl off due to the insane backlash stemming from her Erotica set and Sex book, Madge’s R&B-laced number gained loads of steam, mostly for its accompanying simple-yet-effective Jean-Baptiste Mondino directed video, which features Madonna and her dancers all wrapped up in tight choreography and lots of latex and leather.

Unlike her previous sexed up clips for “Justify My Love” and “Erotica,” the “Human Nature” clip was meant to be more humorous than sexy-and it worked like a charm. Laced with a satirical depiction of sex, and the taboos that several societies place on the subject, it’s no wonder that Madonna has performed “Human Nature” on several of her concert tours. While the boudoir ready beat stalled at number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100, it certainly made its, um, mark on not just Madonna fans, but those pesky haters who deemed that the Queen of Pop reign was over. 

But if there’s one thing from Madonna’s gritty groove that we will take with us for all of music eternity, it’s the line in the track when when she states, “express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” Those five little words are not only magically strewn throughout the romping Bedtime number, but they will always hold true in life itself. 

And always remember….just like Madonna taught us…….absolutely no regrets

It’s Philly Mixtape music nature….