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Old 21-02-2013, 19:12
Josh Pinder
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This March will mark 10 years since American Life was brought into our lives....and to commemorate i found this article (well a friend sent it to me actually but still) and it really is so interesting seeing how music and politics really alligned and can create such furore....despite the fact that it can be considered ironic/satirical....and man how i love me some dry sense of humour and satire.

Anyways i remember being 11 and watching this stuff in the news...everything from her Wossy interview, to her HMV gigs to her American backlash against her "political agenda" despite the fact that there really wasnt...more of a rebellion against the Bush system in the US....but the album itself is more a story of her moving from the US to the UK physically and her new "life" and what she has left behind, where she is going....so very relatable...but also brutal, tought with an element of bittersweetness.

Anyways thought i would make its own article on the song/video and the album and era overall itself...its done a decade...now ten years later were the US critics "wrong" has it indeed become a contemporary masterpiece in modern Pop music....or are they still right...is it that Madonna did overstep the mark.....personally American Life holds a massive space in my heart as one of my favourite albums ever....ironically through time it has taken to grow into that space....plus 2003 marked a great year of music for me (Madonna, goldfrapp, Blur, Dandy Warhols, Marilyn Manson, Tricky, The Darkness, Britney Spears, Kylie (her only album i like beginning to end), David Bowie (his final album until this year!), and Christina Aguilera and her "stripped" opus) was a rela great year....the year of "underrated Pop" and some real shake ups....

anyways...here is why i posted

http://squaremadonna.wordpress.com/2...american-life/

very interesting read
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Old 21-02-2013, 21:01
Gigi4
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Great read. I love this record too. But it's very polarizing among even Madonna fans. I really like I'm So Stupid but I've read on certain Madonna forums some people think it's her worst song of all time. I also love Hollywood and Love Profusion. I always thought the album could have been more successful if they chose a different lead single. The title track is my least favourite single on the album. The rap was meant to be humourous, but a lot of people didn't get the irony and thought she was trying to seriously be a rapper!
But I have a soft spot for this record, and I wish Madonna would sing a song from it in one of her tours. She kind of ignores it. She has used Nobody Knows Me for backdrop videos but I'd like a performance of one of the songs maybe Hollywood.
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Old 21-02-2013, 21:51
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I like this album, Intervention and Love Profusion are my faves
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Old 21-02-2013, 22:20
Josh Pinder
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Great read. I love this record too. But it's very polarizing among even Madonna fans. I really like I'm So Stupid but I've read on certain Madonna forums some people think it's her worst song of all time. I also love Hollywood and Love Profusion. I always thought the album could have been more successful if they chose a different lead single. The title track is my least favourite single on the album. The rap was meant to be humourous, but a lot of people didn't get the irony and thought she was trying to seriously be a rapper!
But I have a soft spot for this record, and I wish Madonna would sing a song from it in one of her tours. She kind of ignores it. She has used Nobody Knows Me for backdrop videos but I'd like a performance of one of the songs maybe Hollywood.
It is sint it....its really interesting the relationship of culture, politics, music and artistry Madonna seems to fall in....very interesting...

And American Life to me has really genuinely grown in time for me....reaching a definite peak for me recently....it applies so many layers i find fascinating!

And totally...i think the title song is brilliant...and has grown on me...and i find it hilarious to listen to and kinda funky too...i love that! but as said so so so many didnt "know" she wasnt being serious as a rapper...ironically its a damn fun and solid rap breakdown too...i love it....."do you think im satisfied??" brilliant!

And i did think Hollywood should have been the lead single BUT with the original American Life concept video to release with it perhaps...i reckon the reaction would have been very different, but it was a case of everything at once...thankfully the singles from the album got better reception across Europe...and basically everywhere bar the US really which is a shame....although at that time we had Urban/Hip Hop at its biggest peak in 2003...again, ironic perhaps???

But toally i do think Madonna in recent performances echoed a lot of herself in this time period...with her PUSSY RIOT/NO FEAR slogan...and she sang a part of American Life on two shows i believe...and yes the Nobody Knows Me visuals which IMO are/is one of her finest visual performances EVER....so goospimply brilliant...would love more of that!
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Old 21-02-2013, 22:23
Josh Pinder
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I like this album, Intervention and Love Profusion are my faves
I must say Intervention is one of my personal favourites too...as a non-single (why was it not a release??) its up there with Spanish EYes, Skin, Words for me...its so beautiful but oft forgotten...so so many gems.

I cannot believe how fast a decade has zoomed by though....this March! Unbelievable!

And yeah American Life is interesting to see amongst fans really and their relationship with it...i mean i have really grown more and more in lvoe with it as time has gone by....so much can be applied.

i think also it is misunderstood as her trying to do "Bob Dylan" or trying to be "too political" when in actual fact its not really about that...sure there are sublime echoes to 1960s Political Rock/Folk music in there....but the only real heavy "political" song is its title track...but even then so much more can be applie to it too...its fascinating.
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Old 21-02-2013, 22:42
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I remember reading a review (can't remember where) but it said she had come full circle from the Material Girl to an adult woman with real concerns. And in a way that is what American Life for me is it's an almost word vomit of her dissatisfaction with so many issues both personal, political, and cultural. She did personal before but that was almost define and restrained and with a set out goal and point. American Life for me very much is her going this is how i feel this is where i am and your going to take it, leave it or just switch off. Sometimes it can be self indulgent and too much but other times it pays off greatly. It is very much an artists album and probably Madonna's only real album where she was not concerned with sales (i suppose you could argue Erotica but that was much more contrived). It also ties off what is a great album trilogy ROL, Music. and AL all sonically diverse, personal and boundary pushing.

Musically it's one of her most interesting i like the mixture of Acoustic and electro if at times a bit wordy, heavy and occasionally dark. But it definitely deserves more attention and is criminally misunderstood and underrated.
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Old 21-02-2013, 22:55
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This is only indirectly related to AL, but I found this interesting on another forum. It's sort of related because AL was sort of controversial in its message. Someone said Madonna is controversial and intelligent which is rare now and that is what makes her great. Her detractors always say she is shocking and controversial for the sake of it, but if you really study the things she does on stage and videos etc, she does have a point to what she does. There's thought behind it. There aren't a lot of artists following that path now. The so-called controversial artists now like Azelia Banks with her use of the f word and others who engage in these media and twitter wars are controversial, but most of the time they are just ignorant. They are just mouthing off with no thought. Madonna at her best thinks about what she has to say and AL was one of the high points of her combining controversy, messages and intelligent thought.
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Old 21-02-2013, 22:59
Josh Pinder
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I remember reading a review (can't remember where) but it said she had come full circle from the Material Girl to an adult woman with real concerns. And in a way that is what American Life for me is it's an almost word vomit of her dissatisfaction with so many issues both personal, political, and cultural. She did personal before but that was almost define and restrained and with a set out goal and point. American Life for me very much is her going this is how i feel this is where i am and your going to take it, leave it or just switch off. Sometimes it can be self indulgent and too much but other times it pays off greatly. It is very much an artists album and probably Madonna's only real album where she was not concerned with sales (i suppose you could argue Erotica but that was much more contrived). It also ties off what is a great album trilogy ROL, Music. and AL all sonically diverse, personal and boundary pushing.

Musically it's one of her most interesting i like the mixture of Acoustic and electro if at times a bit wordy, heavy and occasionally dark. But it definitely deserves more attention and is criminally misunderstood and underrated.
That is a good point in a way....like 20 years since she debut and this is her "now" going through the motions of where she was then and is at that moment in time...I mean its like she said when she released Like A Prayer....and then again before she released Ray Of Light...she had "no idea how it would perform/everyone would react" and you can tell that is where the artistry comes in too...where she is at her most innovative and creative...and most likely why she cried happy tears when COADF was still a massive seller STateside despite the crap they gave her for American Life...i think it was because she herself knew there was a definite limit she pushed that no one else has dared since for these reasons...and i think that has only added to its power these years later...

And in a sense AL i agree was probably her "most intense personal" album....despite LAP, Erotica, ROL, Music really hit home a lot of elements people could relate to and contradicting society/her background/coming of age in so many ways...but it had a different energy about it whereas AL is definitely her most "lethal" in some ways and ultimately of her warmest moments to of self-satisfaction and generally satisfied too....hard to put a finger on it really.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:07
Josh Pinder
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This is only indirectly related to AL, but I found this interesting on another forum. It's sort of related because AL was sort of controversial in its message. Someone said Madonna is controversial and intelligent which is rare now and that is what makes her great. Her detractors always say she is shocking and controversial for the sake of it, but if you really study the things she does on stage and videos etc, she does have a point to what she does. There's thought behind it. There aren't a lot of artists following that path now. The so-called controversial artists now like Azelia Banks with her use of the f word and others who engage in these media and twitter wars are controversial, but most of the time they are just ignorant. They are just mouthing off with no thought. Madonna at her best thinks about what she has to say and AL was one of the high points of her combining controversy, messages and intelligent thought.
Nail on the head gigi!! gold star!

Its true though and thats why i love her...the idea that she can push buttons through the messages of what she does sing and perform and showcase to the world...the thought behind it, and the structure of how she tells it, sings it, performs it is a true gift and talent to have that so few have had...Madonna is in TOTAL control of what she does, says and sings...so many in Pop...especially today are not taking that leaf and having that right dose and structure there...

I mean people like MIA (although often she does come across as a tw-t with what she says in terms of politics/banter), Janelle Monae, Beth Ditto, Marilyn Manson, Shirley Manson, just a few there of the past two decades/recent artists that have a cap on and have a structure and know the balance of what garners attention, what makes people interact with the messages i think almost have it spot on in some ways....but none of them truly have had the time (yet) to showcase it en masse like Madonna has done...it is interesting however.

Its not "oh Madonna just wants attention"...the credit is how she has got that, and how she is utilising it...that is the main talent and i love that.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:09
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That is a good point in a way....like 20 years since she debut and this is her "now" going through the motions of where she was then and is at that moment in time...I mean its like she said when she released Like A Prayer....and then again before she released Ray Of Light...she had "no idea how it would perform/everyone would react" and you can tell that is where the artistry comes in too...where she is at her most innovative and creative...and most likely why she cried happy tears when COADF was still a massive seller STateside despite the crap they gave her for American Life...i think it was because she herself knew there was a definite limit she pushed that no one else has dared since for these reasons...and i think that has only added to its power these years later...

And in a sense AL i agree was probably her "most intense personal" album....despite LAP, Erotica, ROL, Music really hit home a lot of elements people could relate to and contradicting society/her background/coming of age in so many ways...but it had a different energy about it whereas AL is definitely her most "lethal" in some ways and ultimately of her warmest moments to of self-satisfaction and generally satisfied too....hard to put a finger on it really.
So true i think she had an agenda of sorts in that she had alot she wanted to say but she knew that in saying that it might not be recieved warmly. I think the irony of it all is America pride's itself on being Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave yet when Madonna stood up to say she didn't agree was shot down for it proving exactly the point that she was trying to make. Couple that with what for her was probably a counseling session and airing of her emotions you get a record that the general public at large will not react kindly too. But your right there are some great moments of warmth on there and it stands almost alone in her discography.

I also think with COADF coming out after and having huge success it somewhat overshadowed AL which is just deemed this controversial step too far.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:11
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i am going to have to play this album again later. never loved the lead and title track, but appreciated the song more when the shelved video leaked. `hollywood` was my favourite single from this record and the video was also great. unfortunately, her political stance on this album meant she lost a lot of american airplay and i don't think she`s ever recovered that ground in terms of media support over there.

i guess it was an album that she had to make at the time, but i just wish she hadn't lost her nerve or bowed to record company pressure with that video. that was unusual for her and the song alone didn't work without the video. i liked the softer side to this album too, songs like `love profusion` and `nothing fails` were my highlights.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:30
Josh Pinder
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So true i think she had an agenda of sorts in that she had alot she wanted to say but she knew that in saying that it might not be recieved warmly. I think the irony of it all is America pride's itself on being Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave yet when Madonna stood up to say she didn't agree was shot down for it proving exactly the point that she was trying to make. Couple that with what for her was probably a counseling session and airing of her emotions you get a record that the general public at large will not react kindly too. But your right there are some great moments of warmth on there and it stands almost alone in her discography.

I also think with COADF coming out after and having huge success it somewhat overshadowed AL which is just deemed this controversial step too far.
I think ultimately the power of her is that the majority of her albums do stand alone and showcase either critical, commercial or conceptual strength behind it to stand its own ground definitively....i mean i think HC, MDNA and her first trio of albums kinda cluster together (not the same group obviously, the first trinity and then her most recent duo) but ulltimately every album inbetween kinda showcase a different universe, a different reality, a different concept and i love that about ehr and her music and her eras....its a definie pattern.

ANd yeah i find that too...with a more "maligned" critically/commercially era a more successful one kinda overshadows it...but again not always the case as i do also feel the massive attention of AL actually overshaowed the Music album despite the comemrcial/critical success of Music itself....it is a strange void and i loves it
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:33
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Who is Madonna?
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:37
Josh Pinder
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i am going to have to play this album again later. never loved the lead and title track, but appreciated the song more when the shelved video leaked. `hollywood` was my favourite single from this record and the video was also great. unfortunately, her political stance on this album meant she lost a lot of american airplay and i don't think she`s ever recovered that ground in terms of media support over there.

i guess it was an album that she had to make at the time, but i just wish she hadn't lost her nerve or bowed to record company pressure with that video. that was unusual for her and the song alone didn't work without the video. i liked the softer side to this album too, songs like `love profusion` and `nothing fails` were my highlights.
yeah play it!

ANd the BIB there, i think the massive irony of the MDNA album/era is that it shwocased Superbowl alone Madonna ahs always had that American backing her there despite the backlash/radio airplay boycott...she still astounded everyone there that wached and ensured her tour would become her highest grossing for the country too whereas Europe and indeed the rest of the world had to mainly deal with word of mouth promo and indeed...being ignored bar her touring dates....but still i think this has healed her...and indeed showcased that despite the US controversies...America still loves her...although (thankfully!) not a Country Sweetheart/American Dream figure (Britney, Marilyn, Mariah etc) Madonna never represented that...and i think that is what garnered her attention too...se is alternative to the norm and values of America and ultimately that is why they were so astounded by her and drew in their masses...it highlighted a lot definitely...and i feel when album 13 is out she will benefit a lot more for that era than AL - HC initially.

Although in 2006 Madonna headlining Coachella (Americas leading Rock Live Performance of the Summer...like our glasto really) there was masses of attention and COADF garnered a massive boost Stateside due to her rpesence there too...despite radio blacklisting...only Madonna

But so very true....i find it so very interesting is all...
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:47
Josh Pinder
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and again the out of character-ness-ness of buckling under pressure and pulling AL video out there befor eit had airtime...i do reckon it could have had a very "Like A Prayer and.or Justify My Love" video hysteria moment...and may have doe it all justice a lot more....thus not leaving the message entirel ambiguous.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:47
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I'm only fifteenth and became a massive fan of Madonna last year so unfortunately I didn't get to really experience the American Life era. However, American Life is my second favourite Madonna album, behind COADF. I just love how passionate Madonna was about this album and you can really tell. I really wish she would do something else like this, like the whole pop-rock acoustic sound, it really suits her.

My favourites from the album are Hollywood, American Life, Nothing Fails and X-Static Process but I love every song. In fact Nothing Fails is my favourite Madonna album track. Also, AL is one of my favourite music videos, I like her Madonna just didn't give a f*ck about what anyone said and expressed herself. It is a shame that the Americans didn't really take on and only recently it feels that the Americans are truely warming to Madonna again.
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Old 21-02-2013, 23:54
Josh Pinder
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I'm only fifteenth and became a massive fan of Madonna last year so unfortunately I didn't get to really experience the American Life era. However, American Life is my second favourite Madonna album, behind COADF. I just love how passionate Madonna was about this album and you can really tell. I really wish she would do something else like this, like the whole pop-rock acoustic sound, it really suits her.

My favourites from the album are Hollywood, American Life, Nothing Fails and X-Static Process but I love every song. In fact Nothing Fails is my favourite Madonna album track. Also, AL is one of my favourite music videos, I like her Madonna just didn't give a f*ck about what anyone said and expressed herself. It is a shame that the Americans didn't really take on and only recently it feels that the Americans are truely warming to Madonna again.
Woah 15 i had no idea thats real slick!

And yeah..funnily enough COADF was inteded to have a filmic score and a more Rockish sound but it was scrapped entirely...but no demos of that recording time have come to light thus far (i dont think anyhow) and that was with Price and Mirwais....thus the changeup in direction and influence and ultimately what made COADF...bu i do hope we see "Rock goddess" Madonna again...i do love how she can utilise her guitar skills

and yeah that idea of full circle-ness i love too with MDNA....across 10 years she has finally brought to light that yes the US does still care...and moreso than ever before and that will suit her in the long haul definitely....

and yeah like isay songs like Love Profusion, Intervention, Nothing Fails....really showcases a mellow/warming side to AL...and on NF i just love the outrageous addition of a gospel choir and techno breakdown...just "cos she can"
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Old 22-02-2013, 00:40
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I thought it was a terrible album, probably her worst.
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Old 22-02-2013, 00:56
Josh Pinder
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I thought it was a terrible album, probably her worst.
Again showcasing the definite divide in tastes across the spectrum too....how many times have you played it??I am just intrigued.

As i must say Hard Candy i spent ages trying to get into but it grew with time for me...and True Blue kinda over time has become my least favourite i think...MDNA kinda wains...it has peaks sometimes when i play it and other times not so much...

It is intriguing though...also why do you think its "terrible" is it mainly because its very "personable" maybe...kinda Techno/FOlktronica??
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Old 22-02-2013, 01:54
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Again showcasing the definite divide in tastes across the spectrum too....how many times have you played it??I am just intrigued.

As i must say Hard Candy i spent ages trying to get into but it grew with time for me...and True Blue kinda over time has become my least favourite i think...MDNA kinda wains...it has peaks sometimes when i play it and other times not so much...

It is intriguing though...also why do you think its "terrible" is it mainly because its very "personable" maybe...kinda Techno/FOlktronica??
In my personal opinion it was her worst work. The context of the album was blurred and contradictory. She was implicitly criticising American politics at the time when they were about to invade Iraq , Indeed which a lot of people were, yet was she doing it because she happened to be married to an Englishman and at the time, Britain was vehemently opposed to the invasion? Nevertheless, it was the 'American Life' that brought her so much success. I remember she was on the Jonathan Ross show and she felt influenced by the 'political World' that was prevalent at the time but I thought if that album was an insight to your personal thoughts then I am afraid the album is very tenuous.
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Old 22-02-2013, 03:08
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and again the out of character-ness-ness of buckling under pressure and pulling AL video out there befor eit had airtime...i do reckon it could have had a very "Like A Prayer and.or Justify My Love" video hysteria moment...and may have doe it all justice a lot more....thus not leaving the message entirel ambiguous.
that video was ace. even the rap made more sense when she burst onto the stage in her mini cooper. the tunnel choreography was great too and the song just elevated in my estimation when the video finally leaked. i do think the video could have helped proceedings, but ultimately it was one of her weakest lead singles for me.

on the plus side, the tour was completely amazing. definitely my favourite set list of all her tours and its probably the best concert i have ever been too.
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Old 22-02-2013, 12:44
Josh Pinder
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In my personal opinion it was her worst work. The context of the album was blurred and contradictory. She was implicitly criticising American politics at the time when they were about to invade Iraq , Indeed which a lot of people were, yet was she doing it because she happened to be married to an Englishman and at the time, Britain was vehemently opposed to the invasion? Nevertheless, it was the 'American Life' that brought her so much success. I remember she was on the Jonathan Ross show and she felt influenced by the 'political World' that was prevalent at the time but I thought if that album was an insight to your personal thoughts then I am afraid the album is very tenuous.
Cool, just wanted to know really and its cool...everyone to their own and all opinions are welcome as long as they back it up and it is interesting to read rfonzo....of course disagreed but thats the point and kinda why i created the thread too so i can see...everything
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Old 22-02-2013, 12:46
Josh Pinder
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that video was ace. even the rap made more sense when she burst onto the stage in her mini cooper. the tunnel choreography was great too and the song just elevated in my estimation when the video finally leaked. i do think the video could have helped proceedings, but ultimately it was one of her weakest lead singles for me.

on the plus side, the tour was completely amazing. definitely my favourite set list of all her tours and its probably the best concert i have ever been too.
Yeah i know right, the choreo, the direction....i mean damn Akerlund reached "Fincher/Mary Lambert" mode as a iconic director partnership with M...so it was sad that it never got its deserved airing....would have swooped the video awards in 2003

ANd ironically yeah, i think the video if aired would have showcased a better understanding all round for the song, and indeed the album and era overall.

And yes the tour is exceptional...so much fine detail in there and set peices and styles and a great setlist.
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Old 22-02-2013, 16:46
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Great album Such a shame it didn't get the credit it deserved and that the controversy surrounding it meant that many people didn't even give it a chance
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Old 22-02-2013, 17:00
Josh Pinder
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Great album Such a shame it didn't get the credit it deserved and that the controversy surrounding it meant that many people didn't even give it a chance
I think that is definitely the power of her music too...for critics, the public to later go "actually..." i know Q magazine took their words back a few years ago in an issue definitely and several other music critics have too...same with initial reaction to Erotica and even Like A Prayer ROlling Stone magazine didnt know how to "review" the record as it was so unlike the three albums that preceeded it...and thus re-reviewed it later as the masterstroke of genius it is....seems to be a trend really.

Also with the Music album it jus seemed the rave reviews were coming due to the success of ROL before it rather than looking at the music on Music itself as its own piece of art....seems a shame when reading reviews but alas...
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