Gagging the girls with a 2PM elimination. SCORE: 9.439 11 x 7 @Jwentz @Raichu @Andy French @godspeed @muddleddreams @acl @beyoncésweave 2015 PLACEMENT: UP 2 - 10 of 210 (9.247) HIGHEST SCORE: 10 x 97 (@RJF @nikkysan @cheida @No hay banda @dodoriazarbon @P'NutButter @eatyourself @HEARTCORE @discoteca @tom71 @Lucy Honeychurch @Euphoria @Doenjang @sfmartin @rav4boy @Angeleyes @Future Lover @JMRGBY @Remyky22 @AllGagaLike @Cutlery @Suburbia @soratami @Endothelium @Mirwais Ahmadzaï @Andrew.L @Phonetics Boy @Mjg0806 @relby @Jonathan27 @elear @fatyoshi @Up Down Suite @torontodj @1991 @Joe. @Babylon @Syzygyz @Dreampopboy @Fuchsia @NightmareBoy @Skyline @Modeblock @Coochi @Hurricane Drunk @scottdisick94 @letuinmybackdoor @Drew @Robsolete @Fortune @Sideout @unnameable @RetroPhysical @Zdarlight @citoig @joeee @Xanax @VeryPSB @SloMover @Bleu Noir @JonBcn @BEST FICTION @Candy Perfume Girl @paperboyfriendd @joe_alouder @Miss Lange @Michael17 @Crisp X @Mister_G @Sleepycat @phoenix123 @Lila @K94 @clowezra @wintersleep @TheChoirgirlHotel @KingBruno @Remorque @Digital Ghost @Trinu 3.0 @LTG @ufint @Mikl C @RainOnFire @Ramalama @nametag @Markus1981 @sexercise @Mr Blonde @Music Is Death @FrozenNight @strangekin @Chezam @japanbonustrack @fancygreen @Beautiful Child 2 @Touchofmyhand) LOWEST SCORE: 6 x 2 (@Sprockrooster @happiestgirl) MY SCORE: 10/10 "Drowned World" becomes the first track of the rate - maybe of all rates? - to receive over one hundred perfect scores from 10/10s and 11/10s. For those of you who get particular about these kind of stats, we do have tracks that clear that total without the aid of 11/10s as well, but it's still pretty momentous. And also maybe a little unexpected on my part. I thought "Drowned World" would be one of the most predictable casualties of the Top 10 from redoing this rate, but the truth is that, despite a modest start in the 15-10 range, it eventually climbed into the Top 10 by around 80 voters and did not leave after that, only going higher. So thanks to the eighty plus voters in the last three days of a two month voting period, I guess. Have I mentioned I'm still pressed? This is one of my favourite ever Madonna songs, and probably my second choice for my 11/10. It's a tale as old as time. Celebrity has baby, throws rest of life under the bus because She's A Mom Now, and nothing else is really ever the same because the priorities have shifted. Understandably given the massive change in your life! It felt like Madonna was on a similar path. Ray Of Light was all about her spiritual enlightenment, and about how she was casting off material poss--wait, no, hold on. That's not how the story goes, is it? "Drowned World" is so achingly perfect for reasons I alluded to when eliminating "Nothing Really Matters" because... it's not myopic and cliché and pious. It feels like a genuine soul search, with a refreshingly honest and unique point of view being expressed. Let me break it down by putting in queer contact lenses for a moment. We are as a collective society bombarded by the idea that we all need to shoot for these heteronormative goals. Go to uni, get a nice job, find a partner, get a house, get a baby, repeat last step ad infinitum. You're roughly meant to stop having fun by your late thirties at most, because joy and hobbies aren't for middle-aged people, then you get a conservatory stuck on the back of your house and sit in it and wait to die. That's The Path, isn't it? In fact, let me even cut the straights a bit of a break as these are pressures they face too, albeit they're able to acquiesce a little easier. I'm sure everyone in this thread has had to deal with people's reactions from The Path when they realise you're going even slightly off road. Oh, you're still living there? Why haven't you found someone? A holiday? In November? When the schools aren't off? I, a blatant male hummusexual, still get looks like I'm mad when I say that children repulse me and I would never want one taking up permanent residence in my home, so I can only imagine what it's like when women dare voice it, like they're failing at the one thing they're meant to do. And the reaction to rejecting these norms is always confusion, followed by pity, like my life is as empty as the boxes I'm not ticking off the I'm An Adult Honest quiz. And it's maddening. Well, girls. I, and "Drowned World", am here to tell you that you can find fulfilment in your life anywhere you fucking want. When quizzed directly about the meaning of "Drowned World", Madonna basically said that she had discovered there was nothing better in her world than being loved by her daughter... but everything she had put value in before that had been an absolute scream. There's no condemnation or admonishment of the life she lived before. It would be so easy, if a little passé, for Madonna to cast aside everything she had known before her child and render it meaningless and watch the breeders applaud her for it, but she doesn't. She acknowledges that her life fuelled purely by ambition, acclaim, adoration, and, - gasp! - material gain was not only something that made her feel alive, it was something she actively courted and pursued like a bloodhound, even when she was fully aware of the apparent shallowness of it all. Who the fuck even decided centuries ago that having a nice bit of jewellery on your wrist was morally empty anyway? Some man trying to convince you that it would look better on him? Fuck that. "Drowned World" sees Madonna acknowledge that, while the birth of her daughter has enriched her life, her life was already an embarrassment of riches that she worked hard to get and is proud to own, and she's incredibly lucky to have all that she has. And what an incredibly refreshing take. Madonna knows she's lived an amazing whirlwind of a life that was dipped in gold, and she worked hard to get it. Blithely rejecting it just wouldn't ring true. So she accepts it all. The incredibly nourishing substitute for love, and love itself. All roads are pathless until people start walking them, I guess. A path, not The Path. It helps that the song itself is a dream, of course. I cannot imagine buying Ray Of Light in 1998 after being a long-term fan, putting it on the first time, and getting hit with that. The production is like being put into a sensory deprivation tank; like being unborn and the world is quiet and watery and warm. Lyrically, it's one of Queen's best, as she peacefully meditates on a life very well lived despite its perceived shallowness, and as she grows more assured in her stance, the track follows her, swelling and becoming more confident and growing in warmth and verve. That guitar is the unsung hero here; it adds a lot of life and much needed grit to something that would be a little cold and pristine without it. It's the perfect track to submerge us into her finest (depending on what day you ask me) album, one of her finest tracks ever, one of the best songs ever, and I'm very pleased that it has managed to rub shoulders with so many heavyweights in this Top 10 despite being a moderate hit at best. Now, time to get into this commentary. Phew! First up is @godspeed who I honestly could have just handed the write up for this song to. "Picking an 11 is usually a difficult task but in this particular rate, it was near impossible to select a single one between 5 or 6 songs. It's pretty much like picking a favorite Madonna album... her discography being so vast, varied being the result of a constant musical and personal evolution, each of her records manage to speak to you in a different way depending on where you're at in your life. The main reason I decided to go with "Drowned World/Substitute For Love" is because I've always found this song utterly beautiful. It is the most brilliant introduction to a Madonna album ever. It is a striking moment in such a strong and at the time already constantly astonishing discography. "Drowned World/Substitute For Love" opens with intriguing and hypnotic electronic sounds that feel like they're coming from afar. Just a few seconds into this opening track and this album, Madonna and William Orbit already managed to create a complete and gripping atmosphere that draws you into the musical landscape and world they built. The song has a very cinematic, dreamy, and surrealist feel that is palpable pretty much everywhere on the rest of Ray Of Light. It feels like a meditative descent toward a lost world which you're not exactly sure if it ever really existed or if it is just a creation of your own subconscious. It can also feel as if you were standing in the "real" world but everything around you was slowing down, disappearing and becoming unimportant to you. A drowned world, in many ways. I've always loved this intro, its nighttime and "insomniac" feel, how bewitching and instantly captivating it is. The distorted "You see" is also an element that I really love. It could seem like nothing but it's one of these small details, as they are many on Ray Of Light, that add a lot of beauty and seem to carry a lot of meaning. Then, Madonna's voice comes in. It never sounded so soft and warm. She never sounded so peaceful and reflective. "I traded fame for love/Without a second thought/It all became a silly game/Some things cannot be bought" she sings. The most powerful opening lines of a Madonna album, yet it is amazing how soft, quiet and soothing the song feels, as if throwing a tantrum wasn't what Madonna was looking for anymore. It's almost disconcerting to hear such lyrics from an artist who less than 10 years earlier was releasing one of the most controversial album and project in pop music history and who even earlier in her career stated that she wanted "to rule the world" and then dedicated the next 10 years of her life to achieving that goal. Yet, here we were. Madonna was at the top but she then realized that it wasn't it seemed. "And now, I find/I've changed my mind" Madonna declares. With just a few lines and in the simplest manner, without religious undertones or sexual explicitness, she had made a statement. She changed her mind. Yes, even the biggest star in the world famously known for her confidence and intractability can change her mind. How powerful is that? With just one verse and an incredibly beautifully produced introduction, Madonna had declared her emancipation from the superstitious world she used to be a part of. (although it wouldn't last long, unfortunately) "You see" says the distorted voice again, appearing more and more as Madonna's or the listener's subconscious. You see, there's more to life. You see, people can change. People can change their mind. Even Madonna, whose voice on this song truly never sounded so good. She almost feels like an illusion singing these words of devotion: "The face of you/My substitute for love/My substitute for love." The chorus comes in and it sounds even more reflective and peaceful than the first verse, but still a bit unsure. "Should I wait for you?" she asks someone she doesn't know yet. "You see" answers the voice, forcing her to reflect on her life in an even more honest manner in order to find the answers to her questions and a meaning to all of this. On the second verse, Madonna continues reflecting on who she was before and the habits of her way of life. It's interesting how she mentions past lovers in a very candid way. "I had so many lovers/Who settled for the thrill/Of basking in my spotlight." Only a few years earlier, Madonna would have talked about her past relationships in a very defiant way. "I'm not sorry" she probably would have retorted to critics. But here, she's not looking for excuses and she's not trying to respond to someone, she's only talking to herself, realizing why all of her past relationships didn't work and that, in the end, she never really was happy in those, arriving to a much more optimistic conclusion: "I never felt so happy." The instrumental slows down and suddenly switches from those electronic atmospheric sounds to a sharp and clear acoustic guitar. The light comes in and gives a totally different feel to the chorus. After the realization from the first chorus comes a sentiment of joy and happiness. Madonna is now sure of it. She found her substitute for love. She found a new purpose in life. And no one can take that away from her. The bridge is an interesting moment and probably the most overwhelming one in terms of production. Many different sounds come together, revealing a strong trip hop influence and creating a sudden feel of chaos in a song that felt until then very peaceful and quiet. Back outside of her "drowned world," Madonna faces the "real" world and all the things that she realized weren't good enough for her anymore. It feels like she's looking for a way to escape all of this tumult and madness. On the third chorus, she sounds more defiant than ever. For the first time in the song, her voice doesn't feel soft but strong and determined. There's no going back. But then, when the chorus hits a climax, the production goes back to the dreamy and peaceful atmosphere of the first part of the song for a last chorus that sort of encapsulate of all the different feelings the previous choruses gave us. The production slowly fades away. You can hear the strange voice saying "You see" again. When you first heard it during the introduction, it felt like an invitation to open your eyes and to reflect on yourself. Here, it sounds almost playful. "You see?", as a way to say "I told you so." You see, you can find peace and wisdom once you realize what is really important in life. And then, finally, comes probably the most powerful moment of the song and paradoxically the most understated one. The conclusion of Madonna's reflection on herself. "Now I find I've changed my mind" she repeats, but if on the first verse she sounded almost a bit hesitant when she sang those words, here she feels certain of it. She found herself. "This is my religion" she finally sings, as a way to confirm how sure she is of the love she found and the epiphany she just went through. I should wrap this up quickly because this is already pretty long and it wasn't really my goal to write such a lengthy commentary when I first started typing this. Now, it only makes sense to give my 11 to this incredible song, one of the most surprising, powerful and important songs of Madonna's discography. To echo what I was saying at the beginning of my commentary, I think it's hard to pick a favorite Madonna album because each one of them take on a different meaning depending on where you stand in life. I believe that today, Ray Of Light is the Madonna album that I relate to. It feels like that's where I finally am. I've spent the past few years reflecting on my life and the things I've lived through and found a lot of meaning in them which helped me be more at peace with myself. I haven't traded fame for love or anything, but I suppose I'd like to say that I realized that there were much more important things than those that I was always worrying about before. I may haven't found or felt love yet, but I hope one day I'll find a love as strong and as pure as the one Madonna sings about on this song. It sure sounds good!" Hmm. I think it's always good to be shooting for more, but never forget to appreciate what you already have and realise that it's also pretty good too. Next up is @muddleddreams "A perfect opening to an album like Ray of Light. I love that it flips the contradiction of "crying on the dance floor"-type songs (lyrics about pain/heartbreak set to happy dance music) around — there's a real warmth and contentment in the lyrics despite its melancholy sound. Some people describe it as haunting or sad, but that's only true if you're solely describing the music. She's singing about being content and at peace, because she now feels fulfilled by her substitute for love. How this feeling is more powerful than anything she’s experienced before, and even greater than any fire she can spark alone. And that’s only the START of the album!" Mmm yes I've never thought about that angle either; how it's not a trade off or a relay race. The substitute and the real thing co-exist, and through that, she is nourished doubly. Queen of layers. Our next commentator is @Andy French who somehow managed to pick one 11/10. It's a good one! "Obviously this song is about how Madonna's relationship with her own fame and pursuit of stardom led her to lose sight of the important things in her life, but at its core, losing sight of the Big Picture in our dogged pursuit of anything - love, addiction, even just trying to live life on one's own terms - is something we normals can relate to, isn't it? I've been thinking a lot about my life pre-pandemic lately (because there's not a whole lot else to do), and actually being able to step back and re-assess it all has been sobering. I hadn't put it together until the hamster wheel stopped that I invested an unhealthy amount of my own self-worth in ~productivity and comparing myself to others' "progress" in Adulthood. But I'm trying to unlearn that after being surrounded by it for basically my entire life - and now, I find...I've changed my mind. Even just from a production standpoint, Drowned World is impeccably made, and legitimately one of the most sonically satisfying songs that I’ve ever heard. Every part of it is meant to be there, not a moment is wasted, and the atmosphere it creates is absolutely otherworldly. The way it sounds like the dead of winter and a beach at dusk at the same time, plus the middle eight where it becomes a giant wall of psychedelic sound that melts away as swiftly as it came and for a moment you're falling through space and time itself back to earth...we going chef’s kiss. I can and have gotten lost in it many times. It's a work of art and sets the mood for Ray of Light as an album perfectly." Pretty much what I said but it's said far more succinctly. And finally, we have @beyoncésweave with our closing words that are sure to immolate us all. "When Madonna proclaims inner peace, it’s almost an insult. The popstar of our times, with fame and success beyond measure, declaring that she’s at peace with herself is just gauche. Of course, her life as a result of that fame and success was and is a tumult, and so, “Drowned World” is a touching concession on first glance: through it all, she finally got hers. Fine. But the vivid beauty of the song, and Ray Of Light more broadly, is that it is about how volatile inner peace really is. Most of our culture, with its churn of religion and spirituality, paints inner peace out as an endpoint; that, once you find it, you ‘have’ it. You don’t. It’s a state as impossible as it is unstable and ephemeral—so difficult to access and prone to collapse and dissolution at any instance. For so many of us, even reaching it is conditioned by the perpetual anxiety of losing it. And so, even a superhuman popstar cannot hope to hold onto it with any control. The album collapses inner peace across the self, family and love itself, being a very subversive takedown of the very Eat-Pray-Love album it appears to be. The song? Depending on the day and your mood it can be one, or more, of: how Madonna is finally at peace with herself; how the by-products of fame and success can all be stand-ins for love; or how her fans, addressed directly by the song, are the objects of the only love she’s capable of. The song pairs these interpretations with its rhythms: unbearably placid waters being disrupted momentarily and furiously before an impossible calm resumes. With breathtaking, multitudinous, still-unparalleled production, and terrifyingly pristine vocals. And if we’re talking inner peace, could wordless vocals, by themselves, be onomatopoeic?! See @3:11. In the end, it’s all subtle and masterful and, for me, incredibly moving. An intricate treasure chest of possibilities—pick the one that feels best in your hands. The one I hold onto is just that gratitude that comes whenever inner peace appears. It may stay awhile and change things; it may not last long at all; it may never come back. But be happy, so happy, to have it at all. It’s the same gratitude I have that this otherworldly song exists. Through the all enraging and all-consuming despair of life, a home to melt into with every play. Simply and sincerely." I... Bitch. "Drowned World" received a video that, while beautiful, maybe kind of boils the song down to too simple a core of famous lifestyle = bad, staying home with child = good for my tastes, but it's still marvellously done. It acted as the opening the song to the tour of the same name, was performed on Confessions, and on one of the London dates of Rebel Heart. It also popped up during Tears Of A Clown. Confessions, surprise, is probably my favourite outing because... it's just such an unguarded, easy, honest moment, and such a surprise of inclusion in an already perfect setlist. It's also a fantastic vocal. Although there's something really... sweet about the 2015 performances. Sometimes contentment is in restlessness, you see. Enjoy!