This week Madonna will release twelve new fast-paced high-energy tracks in the form of a new CD, Confessions On A Dancefloor. Let me take you there with my review of the grey-market version I downloaded yesterday morning...
We begin this new and exciting chapter of Madonna's musical career with the highly anticipated single, "Hung Up." I always judge an album by the first track: it's the artist's opportunity to make an impression on the listener. My favorite part of the track is how there's this keyboard playing a medieval melody throughout! Oh yeah, and when AJ described the video to me, I misunderstood him and pictured Madonna licking a refrigerator instead of humping a boom box. Honest mistake, but it makes my "Hung Up" experience that much more interesting.
For those of you who have never listened to a hardcore dance album, you'll be surprised to never hear a pause in the beats. Madonna brings it to those who dare: twelve tracks flowing in and out of each other continuously; just under sixty minutes of back-breaking beats (no ballads need apply).
I have learned to turn the volume down just as track two approaches. While "Get Together" draws you in with a sultry house beat, the ringing telephone-y sound at the start will kill ear drums if the volume is pumped too loud. "Sorry" is maybe one of the only "slow" songs on the album. It feels much more mellow and the strings in the background add to the ambiance. Ready yourself for the international experience when Madonna takes great lengths to enunciate her apologies in several languages. I feel very European after hearing "Sorry" for the fifth time today.
Fast-forward to "Future Lovers" and Madonna will tell you about love. She'll ask you to forget your life, problems, administration, bills, and loans. The refrain is poetic: "In the evidence of its brilliance." The first few times, I was like "what the hell is she saying" but then I looked up the lyrics. Of course, this song reminds me of two instances: 1) Madonna's new documentary called "I'm Going To Tell You A Secret" that AJ and I just finished watching on Friday and 2) Ewan McGreggor in Moulin Rouge saying "this is a story about ... love."
Moving on. In her documentary, Madonna and company had this nasty habit of writing each other poems... But they weren't really poems, they were horribly awful couplets... You know, two short lines that have the same amount of syllables and rhyme. They rhyme, people. Enter track number five. "I Love New York" literally made my cry. Here's a preview: "I don't like cities, but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork." And the first two lines of verse two: "If you don't like my attitude, then you can F-off / Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf?" I listened to that song once and it's enough for the rest of my lifetime. Certainly the sink hole song of the album.
The good news is after listening to track five, you gain such an appreciation for my favorite track on the disk, "Let It Will Be." Very danceable, my favorite aspects of the song are the stacked vocals. If Madonna released this as a single, the video would totally do the 80s thing where there are a million shadows dancing behind the main Madonna. She almost sounds alien when the vocals are jammed together like they are.
Perhaps my favorite part about this CD is the part when you realize that "Forbidden Love" is not a reworked version of one of my all-time favorite Madonna tracks from Bedtime Stories, but a totally new song titled "Forbidden Love." Isn't it great that Madonna has so many flippin' songs that she can start recycling themes and track names? This feels like the second slow jam on the disk. The refrain is very melodic.
AJ emailed me and let me know that he really liked "Jump" as one of his favorite tracks on the disk. If you're listening to the album in order like I am as I write my review, you'll instantly feel like you're back in the club scene after slow jam number seven. I personally feel that the song could have been much stronger if she didn't use the word "jump" as many times as she did in the refrain. Beyond that, a solid song.
Pressing on to "How High," another of my must-hears on the album, we're greeted by a groaning synthesizer. It finally gives way to Madonna's processed voice, kind of speaking the lyrics to the refrain. Madonna shines again lyrically when she assembles the names of two songs she's recorded in the past and jams them together to form the line "nobody's perfect / I guess I deserve it."
When the track listing for the new album was released, Madonna took some flack for naming one of her songs "Isaac," supposedly because the name is not to be used to promote something that's not part of the teachings of her church. If you saw the documentary, "I'm Going To Tell You A Secret," I have a feeling that the name "Madonna" has become synonymous with "Kabbalah." Since I don't have any physical CD in front of me, I can't know who to credit for their vocal performance. I'm sure it's a Jewish chant or prayer that this guy is singing. I really like it, reminds me of a techno "Desert Rose."
By track number eleven, everyone's freaking tired. "Push" is highly annoying. I don't even feel motivated to look up the lyrics. I will comment, however, that the refrain reminds me of another Madonna track, "Like a Prayer." Finally you've come to the end of the album. Track twelve, AKA "Like It Or Not" produces lyrical gems like "Sticks and stones will break my bones / But your names will never hurt." Some of these absurd lyrics make me wonder if she just sat down with her kids, gave them a pen, let them have at it, and then put them to the techno beats her producer came up with.
Kudos to Madonna, seriously though, for taking us there. She's almost half a century old and she's still rockin' the clubs and licking the refrigerators of my mind. This is a solid album and I can't wait to misinterpret the next video.