Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by mindtrappa, Sep 2, 2017.
Thanks Drew, that makes sense then.
Sometimes I despair...because Ciao Bella is only on the super deluxe and not the closer for all versions of the album.
This and the fact I'm forced to open iTunes to use it.
That awful “Swept Away” hair. I believe, the filming started or was about to start when the DVD was filmed.
Rather excited for this next video...
Eyebrows and Guy.
While listening to the bonus disc yesterday, I realized what they are - tour interludes. Montage of celebrities, generic party interlude, and of course, the traditional political interlude after the third act set to Ciao Bella. Wouldn't surprise me in the slighest, and it would be a neat touch.
He did with Madonna Ray Of Ligth, Music, American Life, Jump, Ghosttown, Bitch I’m Madonna. He also directed the I’m Going To Tell You A Secret documentary.
The hairstyle (and no eyebrows) was an homage to Bowie, her first ever concert in Detroit when she was a teenager.
The live show was aired at the end of august, the filming of Swet Away started a month after. She changed hairsryle a lot during the american leg of the tour.
The main album is an event, but I love that bonus disc sooo much as well.
Madame X be drinking Krug Rosé and sometimes Lemon Drops
I am happy to say I enjoy the album overall. I voiced a few times how I was unimpressed with the pre-released songs but had hoped that when hearing the album as a whole everything would work and it does and I'm so happy.
From 00 to now I'd rate things as;
Confessions on the Dance Floor
MDNA // Rebel Heart
I feel like I'm finally at a place with the album where I can give some track by track thoughts.
1-Medellin-10/10-This is still the best song on the album for me and one of my favorite Madonna songs ever. It's just so musically complex and full-bodied while also being catchy as fuck. I love the contrasts in both sound and lyrical content: Madonna's hollowed out spacey verses versus Maluma's more fiery embodied delivery. Then there's the bit of lyrical nostalgia that adds an undercurrent of melacholy to the romantic fever dream. Besides the cartel line, the song probably has the most polished and evocative lyrics on the whole album (yes, I know Maluma's lyrics are weak as fuck when translated, but they sound incredible in Spanish). The cha cha chas/slow down papi bits are wonderfully off kilter moments and the second chorus, the bit when they're singing together, is honestly one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard in pop music. There's three musical moments on this album that particularly get into my soul and that's one of them. I'm in utter disbelief that some people thought this song was trash when it came out. I find it to be masterful and a wonderfully ethereal start to a true journey album.
2-Dark Ballet-9-I do understand the issues people have with this song, but those startling and lyrical piano lines pretty much negate all of its sins. Which are: the fucking vocal processing is just weird on this. There's no getting around it. It's distracting and unnecessary. Plus, I feel this is the one song on the album that absolutely needed another vocal take. This couldn't have possibly been the best vocal they had. And...well, now that I think about it, that's the only thing I don't like about the song. Sure, it doesn't have a chorus, but not every song needs one. I love the solemn gothic gloom of this, the way the drums that kick in during the verse accentuates the drama of it all (dope adlibs too. I like the interesting juxtaposition of "People tell me to shut my mouth" and then "Shut your mouth," as if she's her own enemy). And while I know some people think it's cliche, I love the lyrics. They're forceful and angry, but kind of calm and wise as well. What kind of sorcery? Apart from being striking sonically, the batshit Nutcracker breakdown is narrative in a way that her songs haven't been in awhile. I can see how some might find this song disconnected, but I think there's a clear emotional progression: the anger of the gloom-pop bit, the slipping into insanity represented by the cascading piano and the Nutcracker bit, and the note of resignation at the end. That piano coda and the "it's a beautiful life" lyric are stunning. I think the spoken word bit goes on a bit too long, but it might just be overplayed since I replayed that party of the Eurovision performance over and over (I get up again).
3-God Control-10-I don't really have much to add that hasn't already been said. The contrast of upbeat disco fever and bleak lyrics is brilliant, especially after Madonna's explanation, and the kitchen sink structure is hella ballsy. When I first heard the song, I was not in love with that kinda ugly sounding intro, with the mouth-wired-shut singing, but now I think it's pretty essential. The truth is not pretty, so why should she sound pretty when she sings it? Like Dark Ballet, the pure insanity of the song reflects the insanity of the times. I think people who dismiss in on the grounds of too much going on are missing the point massively. And even if you're not into the political message (I personally think she does politics better here than any other song), it's just a fucking bop. The melodic bits, particularly "It's a weird kind of energy" are classic Madonna, and the swirliness of the instrumental is addictive and hypnotic.
4-Future-8.5-I don't love this quite as much as I did upon first listen but I'm still puzzled by the hate it gets. It's so much better than Unapologetic Bitch, which it's often compared to. I liked the vibes of that song, but it was always weird to me that she sings it so straightforward, with no attempt to lean into the rhythmic aspects of dancehall/reggae. She completely fixes that problem here, with a straight up weird cadence and an unconventional melody in her verse. Add a dope piano intro, an incredible horn section, a fire Quavo verse that produces the best moment of the song ("it's an overiiiiiiide") and you have an irresistible track. It sounds like some kind of vaguely futuristic protest song. In that way, the repetition works in its favor. The lyric "you ain't woke" is extremely annoying though, considering that she played Eurovision in Israel and didn't realize what a mess Killers Who Are Partying is lyrically.
5-Batuka-8.5-I struggled with this one a bit. I always found it to be one of the best produced tracks on the album. The different levels of percussion is just exquisite, particularly when it goes all heavy trap in the chorus, and the unrestrained male vocals also go off. But I found the melody mad repetitive and I thought her vocals were straight up weird in sections. My ear kinda rejected it. But as I continued to listen, I realized that the repetition is the fucking point (I've said before that the complaints about repetition are pretty Western-centric) and that the vocals would sound unpolished in the context in which Batuka presumably takes place. This song is not meant to have any pop appeal and with that in mind, it slays. I would like more "and the highway listens" and less "will we win this race" lyrically though. This music deserves more than some of the cliches she serves.
6-Killers Who Are Partying-9-I won't repeat my problems with this lyrically since we've litigated the issue so much. I'll just say it's some white bullshit and move on. Musically, this is probably the best thing on the album. I've never heard anything in pop quite like it: that fado/morna folky vibe feels like it wants to be romantic but then you have all these creepy rubbery electronics fucking thangs up in the best way possible. That post-chorus bit, the part that was featured in slowed down form in the trailer, is the second moment on the album that really gets in my soul and fucks me all the way up. I also think the melodies on this song are gorgeous, with the verses serving that kind of dragged out Bjork realness. It's a shame about the lyrics because she's doing some beautiful stuff with her vocal delivery. I stan the way she sings "humiliated." And that "God knows what I am" adlib just ends me. It feels so classic Madonna. Weirdly enough, the whole song does even though it sounds like nothing she's done before. If not for the Colonialism of it, this would be a 10.
7-Crave-9-I'm only going to write a few sentences about this since it's been so widely discussed. Plus, as beautiful as it is, it gives me a lot less to talk about than the preceding tracks. But after the heaviness and weirdness of the first half and the pervasive vocal effects, to have such a naked vocal and melody, with such direct emotion, is refreshing and necessary. I love the subtlety of the production, the vocal interplay with Swae Lee that creates so much musical and emotional tension, the stunning middle eight that perhaps feels more Madonna than anything else on the album. The Pitchfork take on this was pretty much a PSA for avoiding the crackpipe.
8-Crazy-8-This is a good song, but I don't have a whole lot to say about it. I dig the whole Motown but contemporary and with accordions thing it's doing. I also think it has some of the best vocals, particularly in the second verse where she sounds raw and raspy. The pre-chorus is fire and probably the best bit of the song, so much so that the chorus sounds slightly flat in comparison. Basically, it's sonically doing everything it needs to, but it sounds like the most ordinary thing yet, which doesn't really do it any favors. Some of the reviews named it as a highlight and I just don't see it. It's too ordinary within the world of Madame X.
9-Come Alive-9-This is the underrated slice of beauty of the album. I personally find it more inspiring than I Rise and that "All I want is peace peace peace" bit is heart-wrenching and is the third "get into my soul" moment on the album. The song is just so unabashedly feel good. It has a childlike quality but it's in a spiritual way, not a tacky ME! type of childishness. She said this song was inspired by children and you can definitely hear that, especially when that magnificent choir comes in at the end. What's really crazy is that the song is one of the prettiest on the album while also being one of the funkiest, with the tin can sounding percussion and the quirky rhythms and melodies. I fucks with the whole vibe so much that I forget that the song is quite repetitive. It needed less choruses, but that's really a minor gripe.
10-Extreme Occident-10-My second favorite song on this album. It's so eerie. The way it starts with that haunting exotic instrumentation. The austere Dark Ballet-esque piano in the second verse. The spareness of it. The weirdly stiff sounding verse melodies combined with her frantic delivery. It almost sounds like it comes from some other time. In that way, it goes nicely with Killers, which has a similar "outside of contemporary time" feel. And then you get that psychedelic middle bit in all its lucidity and craziness, culminating in the masterfully withheld "life is a circle" climax. Amazing. And if that wasn't enough, you get that stunning Portugese moment. And if that wasn't enough, those trappy drums at the end make it sound like she's singing the final chorus in a kind of sonic molasses, like she's struggling to swim to the surface. It stuns me that some people find this song to be forgettable. I think anybody who does is not listening closely enough. It is a sonic treasure trove and the deceptively simple lyrics completely work.
11-Faz Gostoso-9-Don't really have much to say about this. It gives anybody who needs an uncomplicated high energy bop (which is scarce on Madame X) everything they need. Madonna sounds slightly out of place but she does well on the whole. Annita sounds sexy as fuck and I love how their voices mesh together, especially on the chorus. It's just a expertly executed bop, but I'm giving most of the credit to the original. This version doesn't really add much that wasn't already there, though that street party bit is quite different. But as much as I like this song, I feel that this is where the album starts to lose a tiny bit of steam. I feel like it gets much less sonically interesting at this point and pretty much remains that way until the end.
12-Bitch, I'm Loca-7-Okay, this is a bop, but it's not bringing anything even remotely new to the table, though Madonna's vocals on the main hook sound interesting. I almost never play this track because I can get this sound so many other places. It just really doesn't fit into the album's wider attempt to seek out fresh and strange sounds. Remember when people feared Medellin would be some basic ass reggaeton jam? That's what this song pretty much is. I know a lot of y'all use this, but I think the meltdowns would have been justified had it been the first single.
13-I Don't Search I Find-9-This almost seems too familiar at points, but it's undeniably gorgeous. It's serving so much atmosphere, so many vibes. It's one of those songs (Grimes's "Realiti" is another one) that seem to capture the essence and beauty of the night. Some people said this had weak and repetitive lyrics, but nah. They're evocative as fuck and gorgeous in their simplicity. Lyrics like "Platinum gold/inside your soul" and "I found emotion" and "Finally, enough love" are some of the most striking on the album. And whatever the fuck she's doing with her voice on the chorus, when the melody kinda rises and twists (not sure I'm explaining this well), she needs to do more of that in the future. I don't find the throwback production style as exciting as some of the twisted up world sounds, but the song is extremely well executed on almost all fronts.
14-Looking For Mercy-9-Like Crave, this works so well because it's such a stripped down emotional moment. She sounds so broken down and it has a kind of sweeping epic vulnerability gives me something her music has been lacking for awhile. Joan of Arc was vulnerable and so were quite a few songs on Rebel Heart, but what makes this more impactful is how cinematic it as is, how she's belting the words and really going for it emotionally. And while it has such a melodic almost soundtracky topline, the instrumental is really minimal and creepy with those throbbing synths. This is easily one of her most emotionally potent latter day songs. That being said, it does feel like it needs more lyrics and for something else to happen at the end.
15-I Rise-7.5-This was definitely my least favorite pre-release track by a large margin and I still think it's slightly bland and overly straightforward, but the Time Magazine video really brought out what's powerful about the sentiment and I definitely fuck with a lot of the sonic touches: the adlibs that come in during the second chorus, the string arrangement, the booming drums. The song completely works, but it's just not something I find myself wanting to listen to out of the context of the album. It's a wonderful closer, but not particularly appealing as a singular listening experience. I'm glad she included Emma Gonzales because that sample really raises the stakes. I don't think the song would work nearly as well without it. I almost wished for more of her speech.
I won't talk about them individually but I don't fuck with the bonus tracks too much. Funana is sweet but pretty cringey in terms of quality, Back That Up really didn't need to be brought back from the dead, and Caio Bella is nice, but sounds kinda dusty. I give them a 4, 5, and 6 respectively.
It’s hilarious how effortless “I Don’t Search I Find” is (and even “Ciao Bella” to a degree), as if she’s flexing that she can still do the kind of songs that The Gays desperately crave from her, but she simply doesn’t because it’s that easy.
But more than that, I think it functions perfectly as she said: an updated version of/homage to “Vogue” – appropriate considering this being the 50th year of Stonewall and the 30th anniversary of Like a Prayer.
Tracklist orders are completely subjective and I would never suggest mine is the ‘correct way’, but reshuffling really helped everything click for me. The first two listens were a headfuck and I found it all over the place, which I get is the intention in parts, but it’s not the tea for me.
2. Come Alive
4. Faz Gostoso
5. Extreme Occident
6. Bitch I’m Loca
7. I Don’t Search I Find
9. God Control
10. Dark Ballet
13. Killers Who Are Partying
14. Looking For Mercy
15. I Rise
I put Madame X in a trilogy with American Life and Erotica because I feel these three records have a lot of moments where Madonna really doesn't give a fuck how good you think it sounds. Lots of sonically fucked up bits in all three.
I think the tracklist is great as is, but I stand by the opinion that Come Alive would have been a dope closing track.
This album feels like more of a fusion of Music and Rebel Heart than American Life. It's a lot more sensuous, adventurous and full of life than the latter, which is often stark and joyless.
Can we ban the phrase "joyless", please.
'Funana' is just lovely. Makes me feel nostalgic.
Don't be so shady.
Separate names with a comma.