Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by RJF, Apr 19, 2020.
Christ. Me thinking this was a hint to the song we would lose until I saw what it was...
Borderline was nearly my 11.
Borderline was my well deserved 11 in the 80's rate. It should get top 30 easily at least.
cunnilingus being grouped in with addiction, betrayal and gaslighting, je suis scream!
...which probably means that we’re going to lose American Life and Die Another Day tonight.
11 x 2
2015 PLACEMENT: UP 11 - 49 of 210 (8.108)
HIGHEST SCORE: 10 x 49 (@nikkysan @aux @cheida @Butterfly @No hay banda @eatyourself @JMRGBY @Remyky22 @Suburbia @matthew. @soratami @GimmeWork @Mirwais Ahmadzaï @Andrew.L @Mjg0806 @fatyoshi @Up Down Suite @torontodj @Sail On @dancingwithmyself @Babylon @Syzygyz @FridayNight @Modeblock @Daniel_O @Coochi @muddleddreams @scottdisick94 @Robsolete @RetroPhysical @Zdarlight @citoig @joeee @Xanax @BEST FICTION @phoenix123 @clowezra @evilsin @eliminathan @Remorque @Trinu 3.0 @acl @nametag @Holly Something @Markus1981 @sexercise @happiestgirl @Music Is Life @Weslicious)
LOWEST SCORE: 3 x 1 (@Chezam)
MY SCORE: 9/10
We've got a lot to unpack with this one and most of the unpacking is to do with one particular aspect of it which you all know is the particular aspect, so let's get right into it.
The turn of the century was just so fucking weird over all. Did anyone's millennium babies give birth or open their eyes? Did anyone's computer try to kill them? No, but Madonna had been around for just over twenty years by the time American Life came out, and in recording, while studying Kabbalah, she reflected on all of her achievements in her life and found that certain things she took pride in or put value in during previous years seemed superficial and worthless. It's easy to scoff at the poor rich white woman being bored by having it all, but when it comes to existential crises, pain is kinda relative, and when you've had any lifestyle for half your life, maybe it does seem mundane and futile after a while.
"American Life" as a song was largely born out of that dissatisfaction. Do you think Madonna is satisfied? She has the behaviour of someone who largely isn't, but maybe not to a troubling degree. If Madonna was ever content with her achievements, I'm sure we wouldn't have gotten half of the amazing stuff she's done. She's restless to a fault. So I'm not surprised that, just off the crest of a second Imperial Phase, happily married and loved up with a new child, that... she was still searching for more. So if American Life's search for enlightenment or peace of self begins anywhere, it makes sense that it is with the opening track. But of course it became so much more than that.
It's rather eerie that we eliminate this track on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, as the political fallout of which, and Madonna's reaction to said fallout, would massively inform this album campaign... but let's leave that for the video chat at the end.
It's funny reading that "American Life" was panned on release, because although it feels like a kneejerk stan reaction to simply say, "You don't get it!" They... well, didn't get it. If there are two facets of Madonna's personality that are always underestimated, it's her capacity for legitimate self-reflection, and for better or worse, her sense of humour. This track combines both of those things. People heard the rap at the end of this oddly candid, jaggy, mood swing of a song and took it seriously. It would be the first round of what would become a typical barrage of Madonna insults for the 21st Century; "embarrassing", "desperate", "stupid", whatever. The rap isn't really even the defining part of "American Life", where the verses about constantly trying to fit in but never finding sanctuary anywhere are hidden behind stabbing synths and a brick wall of sound that the listener is forced to hit their head against. It's a deliberately obtuse, difficult song, but when you get to the heart of the matter, it's fairly simple to unpack and empathise with: I am increasingly dissatisfied with the trappings of my life and no matter what I do I just feel empty. Round and round just like a circle. It's a shockingly layered beast of a song that houses so many warring dichotomies that it's no wonder it bursts out intensely every five seconds. One of Madonna's finest tracks, and a sorely underrated one at that.
"American Life" has not had all that many tour outings. The first was on Re-Invention, the tour supporting its parent album. Then it took a long, long break before returning on the Madame X Tour nearly twenty years later, with a performance at Pride last year also. But the real story here is of course the video which never made it to a wider audience.
In the wake of September 11th, it was decided that the US was going to war with Iraq; a decision that reverberates to this day. This write up would go on for double the length it already is if I actually went deep into it, so I'll just say that Madonna, like a lot of Americans, was not happy with the administration at the time, so she and Jonas Åkerlund made... what is possibly her finest, most controversial, most prescient video ever. I gasp and cringe anew every single time I rewatch, because it's just too real, and has only gained more and more of a point as the years have worn on. You could release this video today and it would still be relevant. It is a violent, uncomfortable, brutal, unflinching masterpiece, and with it, not only did Madonna throw a grenade at George W Bush, she threw a grenade at her own career as well.
Madonna was forced to defend the video before it even came out, and for the first time in her life, she backed down, and chose not to release it. The original statement might be the most emptily partisan and contrite Madonna has ever sounded in printed word; talking about respecting the troops, who she is always praying for, and saying she isn't anti-Bush or pro-Iraq. However... it's hard to not have a little bit of understanding. Bold moves like this are easier to make when it's solely you that's taking the heat, but the backlash from the video's content spilled out into her family life (weren't death threats made against her kids?!), and there comes a point where we shouldn't expect Madonna to be a provocateur for our own entertainment or satisfaction when it puts her family in harm's way. It also maybe explains the triage she would put her career into for the next few years also.
However, we thankfully have access to the Director's Cut, and I'm not even going to waste a media link on the video that eventually made it to MTV. Enjoy one of Madonna's finest ever visuals, and a couple of performances, below.
No. Fuck this. Goodbye.
Incredible song. Top 10 Madonna for me . Done wrong here . I remember hearing it for the first time on headphones in Virgin Megastores and it was so powerful , I mean it hit me like a sledgehammer . I instantly loved it , bought the single and loved it since !!
The pulled "American Life" video is incredible but owes a little to the Dave Stewart directed video for "17 Again" by Eurythmics released in 1999:
Though, god love her, Annie Lennox could only ever dream of getting down like this...
Those raw vocals during the Re-Invention Tour performance - cf. I'm Going To Tell You A Secret - are it.
DO I HAVE TAH
DO I HAVE TAH
DO I HAVE TAH CHAAAANGE?
The song itself? Hmm. 17 years on and I still can't make my mind up about it. It's such a Frankenstein monster of a song. Glorious (original) video, though. And it did almost kill her career in ways SEX and Erotica couldn't even have begun to imagine, so it'll always have that.
@Chezam is not satisfied
Pass It On
In all honesty, seeing American Life live in Feb was an absolute highlight of my Madonna fandom.
I was an unbeliever upon release, I mean that rap... which I have grown to love.
A lot of the outlier songs on American Life (the album) took a while to grow on 17 year old me, it was always about that middle 3, but as I grew, and got what I wanted, and wanted more, and didn't always get it, or did and it wasn't right, I got that side of the meessage behind American Life (the song).
The original video is amazing, and I probably would have fallen head over heels over it quicker with that behind it.
I don't think I gave it a 10 last time, but now it is, a classic even?
It's rising in the overall ranking has shown that, but that could also be the fact it was finally performed live again.
When @RJF hosts the next rate in 10 years, time will tell.
I’m fine with this going now.
Ya'll love Die Another Day that much?! Weird. I think this should've gone a little further but I'm not mad it leaving.
Not my potential 11 leaving too I...
Secret still being here is iconic. I honestly expect it to leave within the next three days but it's done way better than I thought. Proud of ha, my almost 11.
Let's not forget the one and only Kate Bush. I forget that she literally gets blown up at the end. Stunt queen.
ddd finally, I'm honestly surprised it lasted this long, I thought everyone hated it as much as I did. The write-up and you guys' comments do give me a new perspective on it, but it just... sounds awful.
I think I’ll always go to bat for American Life because it really is so misunderstood. The reception to it is a lot more positive today but I still don’t think it will ever be regarded as one of Madonna’s best works, when it deserves to be. Erotica nearly killed her career but the entire era is looked back on fondly and as a game changer in the pop world. American Life still isn’t that well liked by her fanbase at large (it’s always a bit jarring reading opinions on American Life outside of this forum, we champion it so much).
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